Just Like Heaven (The Smythe-Smiths #1)
By: Julia Quinn
Format/Source: Mass bound paperback; my purchase
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
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
Okay, the premise of this book caught my attention, which is why I immediately picked it up. Childhood friends + frightful annual family musicale + couple who enjoys desserts? Count me in. Plus, I really got into a historical romance binge mood after re-reading Julia Quinn’s The Duke and I (review) so yeah, it didn’t take much convincing 😉
Well this was a wonderful little read. I love how this book is connected to the world of the Bridgertons, with two Bridgerons making an appearance in this novel as well as some secondary characters from that series. Like the Bridgertons, the Smythe-Smiths are a pretty big family–not necessarily Honoria’s unit, with five siblings, but she has a lot of cousins. I wish there was a family tree included in this book or something just to get a sense of how big the family is. Suffice to say, they’re big enough to hold an annual musicale every year with the unmarried Smythe-Smith daughters playing in the quartet. Only, they’re not terribly musical, and for some reason the family doesn’t really get it. Which is funny.
Unlike The Duke and I (sorry, it was the only other Julia Quinn novel I’ve read at the time that I read this book; it’s going to get comparisons), I found most of the humour coming from Honoria and Marcus’ interactions moreso than her and her cousins (oops, sorry Smythe-Smiths quartet). There’s just so much going on between these two–their sense of loneliness, their sense of being themselves when they’re together, their past, their conflicted feelings about each other throughout the novel, their love of desserts…Omg, if there was anything I wished there was more of in this book, it’s that. Their shared love of desserts was absolutely adorable and hilarious. There’s actually a segment somewhere halfway where Marcus just goes off thinking about all kinds of desserts and it is just so cute and hilarious and actually left me hankering for some apple pie! While not as electric as Simon and Daphne, I thought their relationship was pretty sweet (pun intended? 😛 ).
I also love them individually as characters. I can relate with Honoria as the quiet one and I like how, for a change of pace, she’s not terribly odd/different/uber independent/quasi-modern and is in pursuit of things that other women during this time are after (a husband, her own household, etc.). But I like that she just wants a simple life, to live in the country, to be with someone who gets her. And Marcus is quite the sweetheart; yes, he practically had a non-existent relationship with his father and has no family, but it doesn’t entirely define him in the way it would’ve in other historical romances. He’s not angsty or burdened by some dark past, he not a rake, doesn’t even drink much. He’s quiet and may appear a little intimidating, but he’s really a very nice guy. Again, nice change of pace.
Overall, I enjoyed reading Just Like Heaven, pretty much read it in one sitting (well, bit of a story about how I ended up reading it in one sitting, but it held my attention throughout). I can see some storylines that were left loose and will likely be picked up in another novel in the quartet (namely Daniel; I reckon this is the beginning of his story). Readers of Julia Quinn’s novels and the historical romance genre will want to check out this title.