Friday, November 2, 2012

Just Like Heaven - Julia Quinn

Honoria Smythe-Smith is: A) a really bad violinist 
B) still miffed at being nicknamed "Bug" as a child
C) not in love with her older brother's best friend
D) all of the above

Marcus Holroyd is: A) the Earl of Chatteris
B) regrettably prone to sprained ankles
C) not in love with his best friend's younger sister
D) all of the above

Together they: A) eat quite a bit of chocolate cake
B) survive a deadly fever and the world's worst musical performance
C) fall quite desperately in love
It's Julia Quinn at her best, so you know the answer is . . .
D) all of the above

A long time ago Julia Quinn's Bridgerton series was one of my favourite comfort reads. While being historicals of the wallpaper variety the characters, the funny scenes, the witty dialogue and the strong family ties made me return to it every now and again.

I did try to read other books by her but those I've tried lacked the same humour and, as I kept on finding other authors and books to love, I eventually gave up on Quinn. However, I recently felt like lighter stories, what I usually call "feel good" books that keep my mind distracted and that I close down with a happy contented sigh. Despite my lack of success with Julia Quinn's non-Bridgerton books I was curious about this Smythe-Smyth quartet because I heard good things about it and because, let face it, I got a bit curious about those unfortunate musicians that show up in so many of the other books and are never praised by their musical achievements.

Just Like Heaven is about Honoria Smythe-Smith, one of the unfortunate musicians. She recognises her lack of talent and indeed wonders why the ton attends the musicale, but she feels proud to be a member of such a close knit family as hers is and proud to perpetuate the musicale tradition. She had a happy childhood surrounded by older sisters, her brother and Marcus Holroyd, a friends of her brother's who spent more time with the Smythe-Smiths than at his own place. As adults Honoria and Marcus meet at the same ballrooms but they are now formal with each other were they once were almost like family.

Honoria is fervently wishing for a family of her own. She has already suffered through two seasons and doesn’t understand why some of the gentleman she met didn't make a proposal but she is not above taking matters in her own hands in what concerns finding a husband. Marcus never had a proper family. His mother died when he was little and his father didn't see the need to keep a close eye on his heir so he was left in charge of the housekeeper or at school till he met Daniel Smythe-Smith. Now there is nothing he would like more than to have a big family, preferably with strong family ties as the Smythe-Smiths.

When Honoria's actions lead to Marcus having an unfortunate accident she feels honour bound to take care of him. And the time they spend together make them realise that the feelings that they have for each other are not exactly those of brother and sister.

 I think Quinn managed to show their longing for a family life most effectively although we get to know Honoria's feelings better than those of Marcus. There is no villain in this story and it really is just about Honoria and Marcus admitting to their feelings and overcome what could possibly have been a big misunderstanding and I have to say that I liked it better because of that apparent simple plot. Although Marcus and Honoria did not make such a lasting impression as Anthony Bridgerton and Kate (my favourite B. story) or as Daphne Bridgerton and Simon, the truth is that I found this a very enjoyable read with traces of that delightful humour I so enjoyed in the Bridgerton books. Besides it had Lady Danbury and that is always a good thing. Daniel Smythe-Smith small appearance made me curious enough to want to read his story. I hope I find it as enjoyable as this one...

Grade: 4/5


  1. I liked this book a lot but Daniel's even more, although there was something there that I think wasn't as well done. Still, juts for the love story I think it was better than this one. I can't barely wait for the third, which I think you will too, after having finished the 2nd.

  2. S. I already have Daniel's books and I hope to get to it next...

  3. I really like that there was no suspense subplot. I tend to get a bit sick of those!

    1. Sometimes just a good old romance is the right recipe to success. I can't believe I took so long to try Quinn again...


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