Just Like Heaven Mass Market Paperback – May 31 2011
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From the Back Cover
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
About the Author
Julia Quinn is the New York Times bestselling author of twenty-five novels for Avon Books, and one of only sixteen authors ever to be inducted in the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family.
Top Customer Reviews
An unexpected (of course!) accident occurs due to Honoria causing mischief while trying to get out of the `husband hunt' her mother has in store for her. This mischief leads to a near tragic accident for Marcus and leaves him near the brink of death. While Honoria and her Mother nurse Marcus back to health, sparks start flying. (naturally!) Of course as you know if you are a Julia Quinn book fan, you will remember what it is like to have the characters sit through one of the Smythe-Smith musicals...well guess what is in store for poor Marcus...and Honoria?! A perfect scene.
Julia Quinn is one of those Historical Romance authors that I've come to depend on. Her books are generally filled with realistically portrayed characters, a good sense of the authors knowledge for the period, mischief of some sort, comedy, a bit of heartbreak and of course, love with a capital `L'! And Ms Quinn does not disappoint with this novel. If anything, I think that this is her best one yet and I've read them all. As a matter of fact I think it's time for me to re-buy all her books for my Kindle so I will never be without them again!
We finally get to see inside the lives of the poor Smythe-Smith girls who are inherently bad musicians and have been made the jest of many of Julia's former books.
Honoria Smythe-Smith was in love with her brother's best friend since she was a child. Then she wasn't because he inadvertently hurt her, then she realized she was still in love with him after all. It took nursing him back to health to get the sparks to fly. It's just that they really didn't fly.
I still found it a nice read.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I was pleasantly surprised and somewhat relieved that I ended up enjoying it. I liked the simplicity of the book and the hero and heroine are very likable; one thing I love about Julia Quinn books is that her heroines are always women whom I think would be nice to have as friends. However the lack of any real spark made it not much of a keeper for me. When I really love a romance, I end the book with a ridiculously stupid grin on my face that doesn't go away for hours; here, that didn't happen.
It did have some strong aspects, while also missing those that we - or at least I - often bemoan in romance book:
- There was no contrived subplot - mystery, mass-murdering or otherwise
- There is not instant lust; they've known each other since childhood and have considered one another practical brother and sister
- There are no love interests thrown in for the sole purpose of dragging the plot out and making you squirm in your seat - or couch or bed - and there were no hated Big Misunderstandings
- The book was really focused on the two main characters, Honoria and Marcus
- One really gets the sense that they *would* make a lovely couple and have a lot of what the other needs
So why the 3 stars? I was actually torn between 3 and 3.5, but either way I think this book may have suffered having been read a day after I finished two absolutely great HRs that I gave 4.5 and 5 stars. It was a perfect light, simple, fun romance read and sometimes that is what you need. Quinn delivers on the dialogue and back and forth repartee, just as she used to so wonderfully in the Bridgerton books.
I also thought Marcus was a wonderful hero. Most romance heroes are rakes or rogues of some sort, but Marcus is actually a quiet, shy, serious (but not stuffy) sort of man. We're told that people often consider him formidable and imposing, but we're not ever really shown this, since we mostly see the softer side that he shows to Honoria. I loved that what he longed for was a family and someone to love who would love him in return. One of the things that draws him most to Honoria is her loving, carefree manner and the value she places on others, on family, and on tradition. In this sense, the story was truly lovely and Marcus's wonder in the Epilogue at the family he has begun to form is touching and sweet.
My main criticisms that kept it from receiving a higher rating are the following (*warning* they detail parts of the plot that some might consider spoilers) ...
(1) Marcus gets deathly ill and Honoria rushes with her mother to his bedside to nurse him. This part seemed to really drag on and the section of his illness *seems* to take up half the book. Other romances have this plot device and don't suffer from it, but here I think it dragged on too long and since Marcus is insensible for most of it, one doesn't feel that it develops their relationship much.
(2) While the part of his illness seemed dragged out, the rest seemed very, very rushed. What we enjoy is the process of them falling in love, them working their feelings out and acting them, and then the happy conclusion. This part of the story is not explored enough for me and besides for a brief little kiss when he gets better, the only other romance scene between them is at the end. Quinn's books have never been heavy on the steamy aspect, but I definitely expected more than this.
JUST LIKE HEAVEN is perfect for a light, fun afternoon read and I would recommend getting it from the library, but don't read it when you're wanting a romance that packs a punch and affects you emotionally.
* This review is of an advance reading copy provided by the Amazon Vine Program.
The book's blurb reveals who falls for whom, the fun is in how they get there. Set in early 1800's England, we're immediately introduced to Marcus, a lonely, motherless, only child. As is tradition, his father sends him off to an elite boarding school where he is befriended by Daniel, an outgoing classmate. Marcus gains not only a best friend, but the family he never had, including Daniel's pesky little sister, Honoria.
Pan forward 15 years. Marcus promised Daniel before he left London, that he'd watch over Honoria and ensure her male suitors were worthy. Unfortunately for Honoria, no one was good enough; Marcus, the powerful Earl with brooding eyes, effectively secured her single status.
Twenty-one and desperate, Honoria concocts a "hairbrained" plan to gain the attention of a particular young man and sets in motion a series of events that cause her and Marcus to really see each other for the first time. Unsure of the other's feelings, they dance around each other until the interference of a crafty old broad (Marcus's great-great Aunt) brings the situation to a head.
I loved the individuality of the characters voices. I appreciated Honoria's strength; she is no shrinking violet! The best part? Some of the dialog and individual points of view had me laughing out loud.
Just Like Heaven is romantic, witty and charming - the perfect vehicle to escape life for a few hours.
While Ms. Quinn's early books were unique because they were funny, light and delightful, I think she has taken this attempt at style too far. In the past several books (this one no exception), she immerses her characters in a babble of inner monologue, rather than incorporating true, character-building dialogue. Here is an example:
"He liked carrots. Although orange had never really
been one of his favorite colors. He'd always found
it a little jarring. It seemed to pop up when he
didn't expect it, and he preferred his life without
This book is filled with non-sequiturs like that. Perhaps ONE would have been mildly amusing, but instead they are used as filler. Take them out and this book would have far, far shorter. Here's another example:
"He nodded and ate some more. Or rather, drank some
more. Did one eat soup or drink it? And more to the
point, could he get some cheese to melt on top?"
Again, by itself it might be cute. Unfortunately, all of this fluff leads to a book that is devoid of character- and relationship-building. The hero and heroine have very little chemistry. Most of the book takes place within the context of a convalescence, so there is precious little physical passion, and the one scene at the end of the book feels forced and awkward, like Ms. Quinn was contractually obligated to put a sex scene in. It does not feel like the consummation of a great love or even great passion.
Finally, while I am no fan of the overdone "villain" plot line, this book could have used... something. The plot is a flat line. I found it quite boring to read. Hopefully Ms. Quinn manages to get some new ideas, or a new editor, or some sort of change that may help her to revert back to her previous style, which incorporated wit AND substance.
Marcus Holroyd is the Earl of Chatteris. Marcus is the long-time best friend of Daniel Smythe-Smith (now known as Lord Winstead). Daniel has run into a spot of trouble and has been forced to leave the country for a spell. Before he flees, Daniel makes Marcus swear to watch over Honoria (affectionately known as "bug") and insure that she doesn't marry "an idiot". Marcus isn't one for London or for greater society. Most of the ton believes Marcus to be aloof and haughty. Marcus is in fact quite shy. As a boy an uncaring father who saw no reason to remarry or produce additional offspring after Marcus' mother's untimely death left him alone. It is only when Marcus enters Eton and meets Daniel that he understands how very lonely he has been. Daniel takes him home to meet the Smythe-Smith brood, including his annoying little pest of a sister, and Marcus comes to regard them as his surrogate family. So, in Daniel's absence it is only natural for Marcus to watch over "bug" and insure that she comes to no harm. So far he has been very effective, four unworthy suitors have been frightened off, Honoria has come to no harm and he is next door, in residence, overseeing her latest matchmaking efforts. Now, what in the world is going on with that hole? She does know that moles make more than one hole?
I have read every novel or short story Julia Quinn has published. * At her best, Ms. Quinn elevates the romance genre. She is always witty but at the top of her game, she creates characters that are heartwarmingly touching and side-splittingly funny. In her best books (The Viscount Who Loved Me (Bridgerton Series, Bk. 2), When He Was Wicked (Bridgerton Family Series), and (to a lesser extent) Romancing Mister Bridgerton (Bridgerton Series, Book 4)) the high comedy covers an underlying sense of pathos. It is a talented author who can smoothly shift gears and take us from great sadness to chuckling delight. So, is "Just Like Heaven" one of those special books? No. Is it worth reading? Absolutely. It is witty, it is well written, it touches on the wonderful world created in the Bridgerton series and we are treated to another one of the infamous Smythe-Smith musicales. Where the book falls down is in the pathos. We simply aren't given the tools to feel Honoria's or Marcus pain. We are told that Marcus had a sad and lonely childhood. We are told that Honoria was a late-last baby but we don't suffer those trials with them and no amount of explaining will sufficiently inform us. This also feels like the first book in a new series. So, even though we catch a glimpse of an occasional Bridgerton, we are just getting to know many new characters that look very much like the protagonist of future novels. I think these sort of books tend to be a bit slower paced and serve as building blocks for later (presumably better) novels. That said, there is a generous helping of the wonderful Lady Danbury here and she is, as ever, in fine form!**
Recommended for Ms. Quinn's fans and for those looking for a decent beach read.
*I used to say that I had read everything a particular author had "ever written" which is, of course nonsense. I have not read Ms. Quinn's school papers, personal correspondence or raided her trash bins for discarded bits. Ms. Quinn's rubbish will be spared my inspection. (I cannot extend the same courtesy to Mary Balogh.)
**This book is really a 3.5 star read. I gave it an additional half star because Lady Danbury elevates any affair she deems worthy to attend.