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This a lovely book . very engaging and does you are rooting for the characters all the way . It is about how true love may sometimes be staring at you right in the face and you do not realize it until you fall into a hole and need to be rescued . very well written and pulls at your heart strings in all the right places . read on . give book II a skip though
I've read most of Julia Quinn's back catalogue in the last six months since receiving my kindle, so I was excited to have the chance to purchase one of the books at its actual release. I was also excited about the prospect of a series of books about the Smythe-Smith girls, given what we've learned of them through attendance at their recitals in Quinn's other novels.
The first in the series revolves around Honoria, who knows how terrible their musical performances are but doesn't allow this to show because of her love for her family, and Marcus, who has become part of her family but lacks his own (save the wonderful Lady Danbury). I thought the development of their romance entirely logical and very well done both plot and timing wise, but for some reason it didn't capture me emotionally and for me, a romance novel has to do this to succeed. Who wants her first reaction to finishing a story about love to be "Yes, I could see the logic in that"? There's just no real spark here to carry you along.
The theme is the importance of family and that comes across very strongly, but having read the book I still don't feel I know Honoria particularly well outside that love for her family. I didn't think we were given much else to go on re her character and truth told, I found her dull. Marcus fared a little better - I enjoyed the insight into his mind provided when he was under the influence - but not much. I also wasn't convinced by the device used to separate the two after the initial period in which they realised they cared for each other - given what they'd already done together, I found it difficult to believe it wouldn't have been resolved quickly.
This being a series, there are what seem to be various subplots for later books introduced (Honoria's brother's bind, identity of the governess) and, because the main romance wasn't holding my entire attention, I found myself getting sidetracked into looking for clues to how those would be resolved. There are also so many other potential heroines introduced for the rest of the series (the governess again, the other three members of the quartet and Honoria's best friend) that I ended up wondering whether we'd get to see Happily Ever Afters for all of them plus Daniel. They were given so much focus that at times, the central romance seemed neglected.
One of the things I like about Quinn's writing is that she uses the universe she's created across her various series - as well as the infamous quartets and Lady Danbury, Mrs Gorely's novels have appeared in both this and the Bridgerton series in addition to the series which ultimately revealed the author's identity - and I had fun trying to work out from her subtle hints and the status of the Bridgertons mentioned where in her timeline this one fits. There are two incidents, revolving around a 'familiar looking' wallflower who likes eclairs and a letter opener injury, which give the answer in this case. The fact the latter also allows the plot of this novel to develop, by highlighting how the heroine has been affected by her experiences with the hero, demonstrates how skilled Quinn is when it comes to weaving plots together*.
There needs to be a balance between referring to existing people and events and developing your new characters and stories. Although this book forms part of a series it does need to be capable of being read on its own and I don't think Quinn has quite pulled that off here; in her previous works, she's been slightly more subtle setting up future developments (you were ultimately able to work out Lady Whistledown's identity from the hints spread across the books, for example, but there weren't so many hints that they detracted from the other stories).
I wavered between giving this book three or four stars, but having written this down I think it's a three. Not enough focus on the central romance and too much time spent setting up future potential novels to make this a truly satisfying read for me.
*Although having reread the beginning of the book since writing the review, I've realised there's actually a massive continuity error in one of the early chapters - a statement about a Berbrooke which suggests the story takes place after the timeframe which is later established.
I was pleased to start a new Julia Quinn series, particularly to find out the story behind the Smythe-Smiths and their awful musicale. I liked the characters, the plot was okay, but I don't think it was developed to the same depth as some of the other series. It is a pleasant read but that's about all I can say.
Perhaps not an exciting story, but when you need a relaxing, calming and light-hearted tale, this book delivers. And being an older reader rather bored by hot and steamy sex scenes it is delightful that the sex is kept until the end. Georgette Heyer managed without any, and it did not spoil her tales either!
Nachdem ich so langsam meine Bibliothek auf Kindle umstelle, ist es nur logisch, daß ich meine "Julia Quinn Sammlung" auch digital zur Hand haben möchte. Die Familie Smythe-Smith ist unmusikalisch, chaotisch, sehr weit verzweigt und liebenswert. Alle Geschichten über die verschiedenen Mitglieder derselben sind lustig, spannend und (für mich) süchtig machend. Es ändert nichts daran, daß ich diese spezielle Geschichte bestimmt schon dreimal gelesen und einmal gehört habe, sie fasziniert mich immer wieder.
I’ve had some troubles getting into this book, especially at the beginning. I was quite overwhelmed with all the different people and conversations at first but as the story continued I was rather smitten with Honoria and Marcus. By the time I overcame my first hesitancy I rather enjoyed Just Like Heaven. And about halfway in the story develops into an even greater story than I initially thought. So don’t let yourself doubt this story at the beginning, it brings more love and joy as the story continues and I am really glad I stuck to this book. I really fell in love with Honoria and Marcus and their beautiful and lovely love story.
Julia Quinn reminds me of a witty friend who cracks you up with their dry view of the world. In ‘Just Like Heaven’ Ms Quinn is at her wittiest. Her target is an incredibly untalented string quartet who hold an annual concert. She has a lot of fun with the quartet of debutante cousins, who target men for marriage just so they can get out of the annual concert. The cousins squabble but they love each other. And this book centres around the theme of family love, and being an outsider.
I like that leading man Marcus is like a real man, attractive without being a chippendale, and with a poignant inner dialogue. I like Honoria the heroine who is a determined mischief making little girl underneath. The characters are truly endearing. I think the best HR author’s are able to bring emotional depth that lifts an ordinary story up a few levels. This is what Ms Quinn has done in this rather enchanting book.