Sunday, June 12, 2011
Just Like Heaven
Honoria Smythe-Smith is preparing for her families upcoming annual musicale, an event she knows she should be dreading because she, and her fellow quartet members, possess almost no musical talent. While in Cambridge with her relatives she runs into family friend, Marcus Holroyd, Earl of Chatteris, who had been her brother Daniel's best friend. Daniel had been forced to flee England years before when a duel went awry and his victim's father swore vengeance, but before he left he extracted a promise from Marcus to watch out for Honoria by making sure she didn't marry anyone not suited for her. Marcus kept his promise, subtly chasing away a couple inappropriate suitors, but Honoria didn't really notice as she didn't care for those men anyone. She does notice when her unmarried female relatives want to take advantage of her friendship with an unmarried Earl to try to set themselves up. When a party is proposed to find them all a match, Honoria decides that she does know a young man who would be a good match and hatches a crazy scheme to catch him.
Marcus finds Honoria digging a mole hole so she can pretend a sprained ankle so her proposed beau will take care of her, but instead Marcus is the one who falls into it. Upon her return to London Honoria is informed that Marcus has taken a turn for the worse and she and her mother go straight to his estate to take care of him since Marcus does not have any family and her family has served that role for him in the past. The two of them care for Marcus through a terrible fever that nearly claims his life and in the aftermath he and Honoria share a moment where they both realize that they are in love. Unfortunately she then discovers about his promise to her brother and, believing she is nothing but a burden to Marcus, she abruptly leaves. Marcus, of course, follows her to London, just in time for the Smythe-Smith musicale, which is threatening to fall apart when one member up and leaves. The show must go on and Marcus and Honoria must find a way to get around the past and find away to make the family they both want, together.
I will admit that I bought this book because I had read so many mentions of the Smythe-Smith musicale that the opportunity to get something from their POV was irresistible. I have not had too much luck with Julia Quinn in the past; I find her books to be entertaining, but feel like the focus is on being funny and fast rather than truly having a really good romance between the characters and developing their relationship. I found this book to be true to form as I did find it very funny and I certainly breezed through in only a couple days. However, I obviously wanted more from a romance and pretty much finished it wondering if she had just wanted to write a fun little story and threw a romance between two friends in their just so she could market it. I like romances where the characters are friends beforehand, especially friends through a relative because there's the whole element of not betraying a friend or relative, but I did not like that Honoria and Marcus were only friends for the first 2/3 of the book. That left far too little time for me to feel like they belonged in a relationship or that there was real love between them.
Marcus and Honoria were both fairly interesting, Honoria mainly because she was a member of the dreaded Smythe-Smith clan and Marcus because he had all the issues of the lost boy without a family who was just searching for somewhere where he belonged. The two of them really didn't spend that much time together and I am not a fan of falling in love during an illness or recovery because it just doesn't seem real to me or it just seems too cheesy or easy. The fear and angst surrounding Marcus watching out for her while her brother was away was completely overdone and really just seemed to drag the book on. I did like that once he recognized his feelings for Honoria he went after it and didn't hem and haw like many romance novel heroes. I also admired her handling of her atrocious musical talents and the way she kept her fellow quartet members going. In keeping with the lack of romance and the very slow development of their relationship the sex was barely lukewarm, very brief, and only occurred once at the far end of the book.
Rating: As usual a fun book, but it lacked a romance that I could get behind and that is really what I look for in a romance.