Surprisingly close to my personal romance heaven!
Reviewed in the United States on 8 June 2013
I read this quite awhile ago, but I'm only just now remembering to review it. (Suffice it to say that promptness is not my strong suit!)
Have you ever realized while reading a book that most of the things you're enjoying abut it will be the very same things that many of your fellow bookworms dislike?! And that's what I love about sites like these: It's so much fun to see how we all have different preferences and pet peeves despite sharing a basic love of reading. So I'll try to sum up why this book really worked for me with the understanding that these may be the *exact* reasons why the book didn't work for others :)
1) One consequence of devouring as many romance novels as I do is that you---(or at least I)---get a tad weary with certain traditional 'Alpha' heroes: angry, snarling and vaguely controlling men who have slept with half the females on the continent before being "tamed" by our ever so special heroine. Some are amusing, compelling and sexy. Others just start to seem like they're in desperate need of an anger management workshop. Marcus was a delightfully charming change for me: a genuinely kind, shy and smart man. Not yet another 'rake' who's slept with zillions of women or a dissolute, destructive lush who needs to be 'reformed.' Instead of the usual arrogance we get from our heroes, Marcus gives us endearing, quietly witty self-deprecation (though rest assured that he's not a neurotically insecure mess!) He's someone I'd genuinely adore and gravitate to in 'real life', which is certainly not a given for me. If you're among my many fellow book junkies who tend to find Betas dull, though, you probably won't be as pleased with either the hero or the overall book as I was!
2) If you're looking for a passionate, sensual, dramatic romance...well, you should probably keep on looking :) Oddly enough, though, that's a large part of why I really liked this one. (I warned you that I have odd taste, right?!) I was feeling weary of intense (melo)drama and endless roller coaster-y conflicts and was instead craving exactly the fun, lighthearted feel that this book provides. And I'm not a big fan of long, frequent and detailed sex scenes, so for me the book's focus on the H/h's rapport rather than their physical connection was an asset. For those who prefer their romances to be very steamy, though, be forewarned that this book has far less sex (and even foreplay) than most current romance novels.
3) As alluded to above, the characters in this book are generally...well, they're really nice and likable. And they're not, by romance standards, especially tormented or burdened by conflict and angst. And, fittingly, the storyline doesn't have much angst or conflict either. We get the heroine nursing the hero back to health, which is a trope I confess I'm kind of a sucker for, but there's not much suspense as to the outcome. I can very readily see how this might make for a dull, "so what?!" book for many, but for me it made for a charming, enjoyable read. Sometimes I'm in the mood for a rich, layered romance with plenty of substance and conflict, and if that's what you're currently craving, I'd stay away from Just Like Heaven. But if you're feeling like you want to kick off your summer with frothy, amusing sweetness and banter-filled fun, I'd recommend giving this one a chance.
Julia Quinn is a talented writer, but her books are quite hit and miss for me. I didn't even enjoy most of the Bridgerton series nearly as much as most. (Blasphemy, I know!) Objectively, I know this probably isn't the 'best' book Julia Quinn has written, but I was so delighted to stumble across a lovable Beta hero and a light, funny and charming read that it's actually among my personal favorites. Happy reading!
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