Friday, 10 June 2011

Review: Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn

Honoria Smythe-Smith, the youngest daughter of the eldest son of the Earl of Winstead, plays the violin in the annual musicale performed by the Smythe-Smith quartet. She's well aware that they are dreadful. In fact, she freely admits (to her cousins) that she is probably the worst of the bunch. But she's the sort who figures that nothing good will come of being mortified, so she puts on a good show and laughs about it. Marcus Holroyd is the best friend of Honoria's brother Daniel, who lives in exile out of the country. He's promised to watch out for Honoria and takes his responsibility very seriously. But he has his work cut out for him when Honoria sets off for Cambridge determined to marry by the end of the season. She's got her eye on the only unmarried Bridgerton, who's a bit wet behind the ears. When her advances are spurned, can Marcus swoop in and steal her heart in time for the musicale?

Anyone who is an avid reader of Julia Quinn’s books will know that it was only a matter of time really before the Smythe-Smith’s had their own series of books, particularly given the number of cousins readily available. And I am so glad that this has finally happened.

The thing I love most about Julia Quinn is that she has now written so many books in a specific time frame in the 1800’s, that she has virtually an entire London ton of characters to draw upon. Depending on what book you read different scenes or balls will happen from different points of view, characters that were mentioned briefly in a scene three books back will suddenly be given a book and a romance of their own, and when you read a new book even though it is a new character that you’re getting used to, it feels like you’re coming home because they themselves are surrounded by characters you already know and love.

There is a tried and tested formula for Julia Quinn books, which I have absolutely no problem being repeated in each book – it makes me happy. I know what I’m getting. I know that there will be an amusing hero and heroine, they will meet, they may not necessarily like each other at the start, but there will be CHEMISTRY and SPARKS. They will spend time with each other, some of it inappropriate. There may be kissing, a moment of clarity when they realize they love the other one, but remain utterly convinced their love cannot possibly be returned. Then we get a twist of circumstance or a misunderstanding of some kind which peeves them or forces them apart. Then all is resolved, much sex is had, a proposal, and everyone lives happily ever after.

I don’t care that they always follow this pattern, because it is a good pattern and it works, and there are enough differences in plot and character to make each book individual on that basis alone. Her writing is brilliant and witty, and her characters so clear and well rounded that it really feels real whilst you're reading. There are a few modernisms that creep in, but on the whole the books really make you feel as though you are in London in the 1800's at a society ball, or taking tea with friends. 

So this book follows the pattern. It has the most brilliant heroine – I love her, she’s funny but has a strong core, although she does get a little irrational towards the end, but in a funny completely understandable way.
The hero is swoon worthy, although he didn’t make me go weak at the knees as much as some of the Bridgerton boys have…

The big thing for me was the life and death peril in the middle, that was new. And even though I knew everything had to be ok, it was still quite frightening real – and I have to admit that this is the first Julia Quinn book to actually make me cry. Shush don’t tell anyone.

There were lots of little cross overs with other books, particularly the Bridgerton’s which made me smile insanely, and Lady Danbury featured! I love it! I love Lady Danbury like you wouldn’t believe. When I am old I want to be JUST LIKE HER.

So yes, it was good, it probably wasn’t my favourite, but it was very much up there, despite the lack of knee weakening over the hero. But that’s not his fault. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the series, I believe there are going to be four books in total pairing off the girls, and I cannot wait.

As a celebration of my love of Julia Quinn and how she gets me through the rough times when all else in my life is a big ball of stress, I’m going to be re-reading all of the other books she’s written and aim to be reviewing one at least once a week – so if you’re a Julia Quinn fan, check back as I make my way back through the classics. And if you haven’t discovered her yet, why on earth not?!


  1. I've never read historical fiction before but this sounds really good, I hope yu don't mind but I'm going to link to your page for my On My Wishlist post this Saturday as this is definitely going to have to go on my list (along with the rest of the series!)

  2. Yay! I've helped convert another to Julia Quinn! Absolutely don't mind the linking, feel free :)
    I will be reviewing all the Julia Quinn books over the next few weeks (they're fab for going back for a re-read too!) so keep an eye for me reviews. I also strongly recommend the Bridgerton series, they're by far the best. The first one is called 'The Duke and I'. Happy reading!

  3. I love Julia Quinn! I wanted to replace all of my old worn out paperbacks (the US editions) with the UK editions because I love the pretty covers and the fact that many of them are the larger size trade paperbacks. But I bought one and here's a weird thing, I'm allergic to the paper they're printed on :(

    I'm a very allergic person, so I often notice when a new book has a particular smell, like strong adhesive or ink, but they usually air out pretty quickly. But I bought the UK edition of "The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever" and the paper smelled like fresh cut wood. It's actually a nice smell, but it makes me sneeze whenever I try to read it. And after many months it still hasn't aired out.

    Do you own any of the UK editions? I'm just wondering if they're all like that.

    Lora :)