My joint review with Lou was originally posted here: http://thebookpushers.com/2011/06/10/joint-review-just-like-heaven-by-julia-quinn
Where did you get the book: Purchased
Release date: Out now
Lou: Julia Quinn is now one of my all time favourite historical romance authors. She has now become an autobuy for me. I adored her last two releases, and I was eagerly awaiting -- month to month -- for Just Like Heaven. Readers of past Quinn books will know of the infamous SMYTHE-SMITH sisters, and their awful musical productions. And when I saw that Quinn’s next book will feature the family, I was ecstatic. Honoria Smythe-Smith carries on the tradition with her other cousins of the family, where you must play an instrument and in the musicals until you are a married woman. Honoria doesn’t mind carrying on the tradition, in fact, she wants to, but she has no illusions about them. They are terrible. But as long as she’s with her cousins playing, she can deal with it. But Honoria has been out for a few seasons already, and this time, she wants a husband and family of her own. But with her mother so distant after her brother had to leave the country because of a scandal, she feels very much alone, until her brothers best friend, and family friend, Marcus enters the picture.
Whilst I enjoyed the characters of this book (Julia always writes memorable protagonists), and found Marcus and Honoria to be adorable in their romance, I do admit that I found the plot of the story to be quite lacking in excitement.
MinnChica: Julia Quinn was the first historical romance author I ever read, and since I was introduced to her just one year ago, I’ve gobbled up everything she has ever written. I absolutely adore her writing -- she is an instant buy author for me. When I heard she was writing a series about the girls in the Smyth-Smith quartet, I actually jumped up and down, squeeing with delight. I personally loved everything about the book. You’re right in that the plot wasn’t anything special, but I thought that the characters more than made up for it!
Lou: For me, I found the plot to be quite lacklustre compared to other books. Whilst their romance was cute, with both Honoria and Marcus making goo goo eyes at each other when the other wasn’t looking, I think I wanted there to be more tension. I was quite interested in the scandal where her brother, Daniel, had to leave the country, and would have liked to have seen more exploration of Honoria’s and her mother’s relationship. It sounded so cold for so long that I found it a little difficult to believe that it changed over night, and that the unspoken sorry was enough for Honoria after her mother was distant from her. It made me sad that her mother loved her son more than her daughter.
MinnChica: I found Honoria’s relationship with her mother to be odd, but with how forgiving and loving Honoria was with her family, I thought it fit that she didn’t hold a grudge or push her mother into giving anything more than she was able to give. I would have liked to see a little more about her brother as well, but we can always keep our fingers crossed for a full length book. =D For me, it was the relationship between Honoria and Marcus that stood out. I loved that she was the annoying little sister in his eyes until he was somewhat broadsided by her. I loved that Honoria was nervous around him at times. It was just so *sigh* worthy perfect to me!!
Lou: I do love the friends to lovers trope, and Marcus I found to be quite cute in his quest to scare off all suitors from Honoria. Even though he was asked originally by Daniel, it was quite humorous to see him go through suitors when his attraction to her became stronger and stronger. I think that their connection from childhood really helped because they knew each other inside and out, and it was only the matter of them having the balls, so to speak, to go after each other. Marcus at first did come off as a little stilted, but it was quite refreshing to having a shy hero, rather than a Duke who is a Mr Know It All.
MinnChica: Absolutely! I loved Marcus. And you’re right, it is refreshing every now and then to have a hero was is unsure of himself, insecure with his place in the world. For me, it makes the HEA that much more meaningful, the romance between him and Honoria all the more special. I also enjoyed the relationship that Marcus had with all of Honoria’s family. The scene where he was so sick with infection and Honoria and her mother cared for him. I think I might have splashed some tears on my nook!
Lou: Yes, that section of the book really showed how much determination and love Honoria had for Marcus. To do what she had to, ( and some of it was a itty bitty gory with the treatment of his injured leg) it showed that she wasn’t giving up on Marcus. And even though they had their arguments, there was none of the bitching back and forth you sometimes see in other novels that can get annoying. She’s there for him and vice versa. I do think that the section where Marcus was ill took up quite a bit of the book, and after that, I think for me that’s where it starting getting a little boring for me. I did love the interactions with the Smythe-Smith cousins, but I wanted the romance between Marcus and Honoria to get moving. It took a long time, and I think that the tension had wilted somewhat.
MinnChica: And for me, I enjoyed that there was somewhat of a lull after the hectic stress of his illness. Call me crazy, but every now and then I like to read about the redundancy that comes with relationships as well, and Quinn just has a way of writing that while still keeping me engaged. One of the other things I really enjoyed about the book was the scene with Colin Bridgerton during the time he and Penelope were courting. I loved getting a little snippet of a scene from Romancing Mr. Bridgerton that was told from a different point of view. It had me wanting to go back and do an entire Bridgerton re-read!
Lou: It’s always great seeing the Bridgertons, and of course, Lady Danbury :D, but I was so confused as to what time period this book was set. It was only afterwards when I chatted to you that I found out it was done during Colin’s book. And of course, that there made me re-read the Bridgerton series! I think overall for me, the romance between Honoria and Marcus was sweet, and their characters I loved, but I found the lack of plot -- or shall I say action -- lowered the grade for me. I can’t wait to see what Smythe-Smith cousin will have their next book, and who the hero will be. I give Just Like Heaven a B-.
MinnChica: I always love Lady Danbury, so getting to see a lot of her is always a special treat! All in all, I adored this book. I loved Honoria’s free spirit and loving personality. She is the kind of girl you want to have as a best friend. Marcus was a wonderful hero, not too imposing, but sensitive enough to make my knees weak. I thought the romance was wonderfully developed and showcased the characters perfectly. I’m also anxiously awaiting the other Smythe-Smith books! I give Just Like Heaven an A.