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The trouble with writing a series where the books also need to work as stand-alone is that the author needs to remind readers of " the story do far". however, if you read the series consecutively, you are then subjected for the 3rd time to a description of the awful duel and its consequences. It gets a bit tedious, the same applies to the dreaded musicales evenings. I never found them believable. The last 3rd of the book worked better than the beginning when the banter between Sarah and Hugh seemed hollow and contrived. There were some delightful moments, notably when little Frances or the witty Lady Danbury were involved. I did not find Sarah a particularly engaging character. I could not warm to her in the same way as I had liked Honoria or Anne. I don't think I will read the last instalment of this series. I suppose that if this had been my first historical romance series, I might have been more enthusiastic, but I've read much better!
The Sum of all Kisses was a nice book and the Prologue captured my interest and made me want to keep reading. It was well written and completely drew me into the 1800’s. Sadly I couldn’t stay there and very quickly felt the book fell into the trap so many modern authors do of mixing their life and times.
Ms Quinn should certainly keep on writing. Her books are light and funny but don’t ever imagine you will feel totally transported back into the 1800’s in this one. If that doesn’t matter to you, you will enjoy yourself. If, however, you are looking for the gentility and manners of the 1800’s you will be disappointed as the speech patterns, gentlemen’s behaviour and women’s responses are, for the most part, very 21st century.
In the first few chapters Sarah ‘gasped’ at almost every sentence (very annoying – glad it stopped). I felt if she was as feisty as we were later to believe she would have seen the funny side of the banter and simply smiled and only gasped perhaps once when someone had appeared to be very rude. She actually came across as being sheltered a bit wet behind the ears. I didn’t feel her grow too much. Although she did come to understand how Hugh must feel I never really got inside her or Hugh. I actually felt Hugh deserved someone with a quiet strength rather than someone quite so shallow and flighty.
There was a lot of banter but you never really felt you knew what the characters were thinking. Perhaps my favourite author has spoiled me (no it’s not Austen).
Men, in those days, may love their wives and daughters but they were definitely the head of the house and if we are to believe Hugh’s father was the cruel and heartless person he was depicted as, he may have been amused by Sarah at first but he would never have put up with her behaviour for more than a few minutes no matter who else was present to stop him. I imagine he would have risen to her challenge and quite literally flattened her. Once again, it was a scene which would be very believable and funny in the 21st century but for me didn’t work for the 1800’s.
I enjoyed Ms Quinn's Bridgerton books and not being a big fan of explicit sex scenes felt that subject was handled relatively well most of the time.
It appears that a romance, even of the historical kind, cannot exist these days without the deflowering of the heroine and the way it came about in this book was very contrived and unbelievable. I don’t know if it is the readers or publishers who insist on a bedroom scene but there always seems to be one if not several. This book would have worked very well without one.
However, in this regard I don’t believe a lady born in the 1820’s would have done what Sarah did at the end of the book. But then I don’t believe Hugh would have touched her either, even if the door was locked. Consider Darcy and Elizabeth. If Lizzy had done what Sarah did don’t you think Darcy would have kicked her right back out the door out of respect for her - especially if he loved her. He would have been shocked and perhaps disappointed in her boldness. In fact, she would have been no better than the air headed Lydia and we know she had more respect for herself than that.
However, a man and woman of the 21st century may quite easily have acted this way. If you disagree then we will have to agree to disagree and perhaps you should read more Austen or Georgette Heyer, two of the most popular romance writers who lived either in or closer to those chaste times and should know what they were writing about. Their characters hardly touched a bare hand.
Yes, I know what you are thinking. Not everyone, even back then, waited for marriage but most did. Women were too scared of the unknown and they rarely knew what happened in the bedroom. Owning cats and dogs and horses and sheep didn’t fill the gap in the education because a lady wouldn’t usually have been involved in that side of things but ran the household. They most likely were horrified if they did know and thought they might have to do something similar.
You only need to read Ms Quinn’s excellent ‘The Duke and I’ where she got it absolutely right. The heroine was completely in the dark, much to the fond amusement of her husband who thought her mother might have at least have given her some idea of what to expect.
If you like this book, you will love the Bridgerton series and see how far short this one falls. I encourage you to read those if you haven't already; all eight of them.
The third in the Smythe-Smith series, this book focuses on the romantic adventures of Lady Sarah Pleinsworth. Attending the weddings of her two cousins in short succession, Sarah finds herself wondering if she will ever be walking down the aisle herself; her determination to escape from playing in the annual Smythe-Smith musicales as great a motivation for marriage as any. One man whom she wouldn't dream of walking down the aisle with, however, is Lord Hugh Prentice; the man who was responsible for her cousin Daniel having to flee the country after the two became embroiled in an infamous duel. Yet whilst Sarah thought she would never be able to forgive him, let alone ever come to like him; being forced into closer proximity with him can but cause her to view him in a rather different light.
Anyone familiar with Julia Quinn will know her trademark sense of dry humour and wit, her larger than life characters and the spirit of romance that fills her novels, to which The Sum of All Kisses is no exception. Whilst being the third in the Smythe-Smith series, the story does not necessarily require a familiarity with the earlier two books (I, myself have not read the second of the series); though characters from the two earlier books do feature.
Sarah makes for a typically feisty Quinn heroine; perhaps a little quick to judge and sharp-tongued, but with a heart of gold underneath and real steel. Hugh is probably one of the more complex of Quinn's heroes, with a troubled and chequered past; he's made mistakes but paid a high price for them, however, he still hasn't been able to forgive himself. His physical disability lends him further vulnerability, and the psychological effects of this were explored well. The interactions between them both and their evolving relationship was engaging, with good chemistry and sparkling banter between the pair. My favourite scene was probably the rather unique waltz the two of them shared.
Though a fun and pleasant read, I do however think the book lacks the magic of some of Quinn's earlier works, particularly the Bridgerton series. The pacing is also rather uneven; hardly anything happening for large chapters, then a sudden change in gear towards the end. I have to say I thought the latter third of the book was rather overly dramatic and theatrical; nor am I sure that such an evil villain was really needed to be brought in to the story merely to create obstacles for the pair, as surely there were enough inner demons for Hugh to need to battle and come to terms with.
This is the 3rd in the series, and I have read the first two. I think this is probably best as there is a bit of overlap with many of the same characters in all three and reading them in order will help. The writing is good, and I was laughing out loud even more than I was in the first two!
I always hoped for some love for Lord Hugh, so I was delighted this book was about him. Lady Sarah was not the lady I would have thought was ideal for him, but, in fact, they were both clever and witty and could spark off each other. The trick was to get them together and get to know each other - not an easy task as he was retiring and she was not. Also, she blamed him for the fact that she missed the first year of her come-out and was still unwed nearly 3 years later!
The storyline may be a little improbable, but the flow and humour carried me along, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I would certainly recommend it for a good summer read.
I really enjoyed this book! I got it this morning and I didn't stop reading until I had finished it. I found it a refreshing and fast paced book.
The story was well framed and led on from the other books in the series. If you haven't read the other books I wouldn't recommend reading this until you have! I don't think you would get the full depth of the book unless you have read the previous books in this series. The characters were both well written and I enjoyed the banter and conflict between the two characters. The dialogue really sparkled with wit and I look forward to their sparring. Additionally, the secondary characters were all well rounded, I especially loved the arguments and interactions between the Pleinsworth sisters (it reminded me of the arguments I had with my siblings in the back of the car on long journeys).
I thought the book was well paced and I really liked the use of the flashbacks and normally this can get a bit stale but I like that fact it was written from her perspective and then his.
I really loved this book and I would recommend this book to everyone I'm only sad that I finished it so soon. Hopefully another book in this series will be coming out soon!
Julia Quinn's earlier books were wonderful but this series is bleh. I didn't enjoy her last few books and bought this one hoping for better things. Sadly,I am disappointed, yet again. I'm ploughing through with heavy sighs wondering when something - anything - will happen. Would I be wrong in surmising that the publisher needs a certain number of words so Julia pads out the story with pointless dialogue which doesn't advance the plot, such as it is. Unlike the lyrical reviews of others, this is last Smythe Smith for me but here's hoping Julia's next series reverts to the Bridgerton standard.
Light hearted romantic storyline with good comedic elements. Love that it ties in so well with the first 2 books of this series. As always with JQ it does have darker elements for the reader to consider.
I love Julia Quinn's earlier works and devoured most of them over a period of a few months, just before the first book in this series was released. I think that may have been a bad thing, because I'm finding that this series just isn't capturing me in the same way as those other novels. I read the first book in the series and gave it a 3 star review; my lack of enthusiasm for it meant I haven't bought the second book yet (the ebook price is a bit high for something I'm not sure I'll like). I decided to give the series another chance with the third book but sadly I enjoyed it even less than the first.
Slight spoilers follow!
I appreciate that different people enjoy different things and some might love this. I, however, felt that not much happened in the first two thirds of the book (apart from a sprained ankle), before the plot suddenly took a melodramatic turn and a ridiculously evil villain was shoehorned in. It could have worked if the pacing of the plot and foreshadowing of the turning point had been better, but I felt both were off. All of the characters' reactions seemed similarly overdone; it might have made a good Mrs Butterworth novel?!
I don't find any of the past or future heroines of this series to be that memorable - for me, they don't stand out from either each other or the other female characters in the book (the only sister I could keep straight was Frances - now she is a sparkling character). Here it was particularly difficult for me to connect with Sarah at the start of the book; while I appreciate she was written in a certain way because of the plot...I didn't like her. It's not a good way to feel about one of the romantic leads!
I also felt we were 'told' about her character a lot rather than 'shown' - the hero seemed more prone to dramatics than she supposedly was. Hugh set in motion the whole chain of events framing this series (with the duel) because he completely overreacts to *losing a card game*. His interactions with his father show he hasn't grown out of this tendency, yet it's not addressed. Other characters are also prone to over-the-top moments (Iris and Daniel both spring to mind).
I think I'm going to content myself with rereading the older books rather than buy the rest of this series; I know others will enjoy this one more than I did. Unless there is a book about Frances, in which case, I'm in...
In this book we learn about Hugh who foolishly dueled Daniel (last book hero). his childhood, his youth, the duel and the aftermath.
Sarah who are the cousin of Daniel. How she thinks that Hugh ruined her life and how she start to see him in a new light.
How Sarah & Hugh relationship really started, moved on, and began again.
The things that they shared that he never though he will ever be able to do again.
It was a really NICE book
this time JQ did go in depth into the hero past. she really let us feel his emotions.
Like the previous book Harriet, Elizabeth and Frances were really cute and brought out fun dialogues in the book.
Those 3 books were really close in fictional timing to each other. but not in real life. being 1 year apart is too much :(
Want to guess who is the next book heroine ? will it be close to these stories fictional timing? I think the next one will be about Iris then after that perhaps Daisy. and I also guess that the next one will be after this epilogue smythe-smith musical.