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(Smythe-Smith Quartet, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Official Blurb 

He thinks she’s an annoying know-it-all…

Hugh Prentice has never had patience for dramatic females, and if Lady Sarah Pleinsworth has ever been acquainted with the words shy or retiring, she’s long since tossed them out the window. Besides, a reckless duel has left this brilliant mathematician with a ruined leg, and now he could never court a woman like Sarah, much less dream of marrying her.

She thinks he’s just plain mad…

Sarah has never forgiven Hugh for the duel he fought that nearly destroyed her family. But even if she could find a way to forgive him, it wouldn’t matter. She doesn’t care that his leg is less than perfect, it’s his personality she can’t abide. But forced to spend a week in close company they discover that first impressions are not always reliable. And when one kiss leads to two, three, and four, the mathematician may lose count, and the lady may, for the first time, find herself speechless …

New York Times bestselling author Julia Quinn’s enchanting third novel in the Smythe-Smith quartet is guaranteed to make you laugh out loud and tug at your heartstrings in equal measures.

★✩★✩★✩★✩★✩★

**4.5 Captivating Stars**

THE SUM OF ALL KISSES, the third book in the Smythe-Smith Quartet series, was just what I needed after the darkness and intensity of my last book. I know that Julia Quinn will captivate me with the romance, charm and humour of her stories.

Hugh is definitely the most tormented of the heroes in this series. Even though he did everything in his power to make things right after the reckless, drunken duel, he is still filled with overwhelming guilt. His friend Daniel might have forgiven him but it seems he can’t forgive himself. He seems a lonely figure… constantly in pain from his lameness and believing it makes him less of a man. I think that’s why he stole a piece of my heart and the fact that he is an unconventional hero…with his amazing memory and mathematical genius.

Both he and Sarah have preconceived ideas about each other. Hugh can’t stand Sarah’s tendency to overdramatize …

Sarah Pleinsworth was one of those dramatic females given to hyperbole and grand announcements.

and Sarah hates Hugh for causing her family so much pain and hurt…

“They are my family,” she said in a choked voice, “and you have hurt them beyond repair. For that, I can never forgive you.”

So watching their feelings gradually change and evolve as they learn more about each other was so heart-warming. There are many delightful scenes but I absolutely love this one…for me it is gloriously romantic!

It was the strangest, most awkward waltz imaginable. Instead of a clasped pair of hands, elegantly arched before them, they both put their weight on the cane. Not too heavily; they didn’t need that much support, not while they had each other. He hummed in three-quarter time, and he led with light pressure on her back, moving the cane whenever it was time to turn.
He had not danced in nearly four years. He had not felt music flow through his body, nor savored the warmth of a woman’s hand in his. But tonight … It was magical, almost spiritual, and he knew that there was no way he could ever thank her for this moment, for restoring a piece of his soul.

Another memorable scene, but for very different reasons, is where Sarah massages Hugh’s leg and he’s having all sorts of randy thoughts! I’ll leave you to read that one!!

Ms Quinn always imbues her stories with a strong sense of family and the scenes between Sarah and her younger sisters are a sheer delight. I love Hugh’s reaction to their conversations…

Hugh could only stare. There appeared to be sixteen different conversations going on at once. With only three participants.

The youngest sister, Frances steals every scene she’s in…she’s so adorable.

The least said about Hugh’s father the better, other than to say, when he is described as a rat bastard, it is definitely no exaggeration!

My only criticism is that the drama towards the end of the book, involving Hugh’s father, seems excessive but it certainly didn’t spoil my overall enjoyment of the book.

THE SUM OF ALL KISSES is a charming romance with endearing characters, sparkling dialogue and delightful touches of humour.

REVIEW RATING: 4.5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read November 2013

The Smythe-Smith series to date (click on cover for more information):

Just Like Heaven (Smythe-Smith Quartet #1) A Night Like This (Smythe-Smith Quartet #2) The Sum of All Kisses (Smythe-Smith Quartet, #3)

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I’ve added two of my auto-buy books for October.

THE SUM OF ALL KISSES BY JULIA QUINN

Source: Bought from Amazon Kindle

(Smythe-Smith Quartet #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Official Blurb 

Hugh Prentice has never had patience for dramatic females, and if Lady Sarah Pleinsworth has ever been acquainted with the words shy or retiring, she’s long since tossed them out the window. Besides, a reckless duel has left this brilliant mathematician with a ruined leg, and now he could never court a woman like Sarah, much less dream of marrying her.

Sarah has never forgiven Hugh for the duel he fought that nearly destroyed her family. But even if she could find a way to forgive him, it wouldn’t matter. She doesn’t care that his leg is less than perfect, it’s his personality she can’t abide. But forced to spend a week in close company they discover that first impressions are not always reliable. And when one kiss leads to two, three, and four, the mathematician may lose count, and the lady may, for the first time, find herself speechless …

New York Times bestselling author Julia Quinn’s enchanting third novel in the Smythe-Smith quartet is guaranteed to make you laugh out loud and tug at your heartstrings in equal measures.

★✩★✩★✩★

WHEN THE MARQUESS MET HIS MATCH BY LAURA LEE GUHRKE

Source: Bought from Amazon Kindle

(An American Heiress in London #1)

Genre: Historical Romance

Official Blurb 

What happens when a carefree, disreputable, stone-broke bachelor is forced to find a wife in a hurry? He hires a matchmaker, of course. What happens when the matchmaker doesn’t want to help him? Well, that’s when the fun begins…

Nicholas Stirling, Marquess of Trubridge, loves his life just as it is: dissolute, scandalous, and deuced good fun. His father, the Duke of Landsdowne is not amused, and when he cuts off Nicholas’ trust fund, the fun-loving marquess is forced to find an alternate source of income—in other words, he has to marry an heiress.

Every new-money American heiress knows Lady Belinda Featherstone is the key to social acceptance. Once a new-money nobody herself, Belinda discovered first-hand how heartbreaking the game of love and matrimony could be after a reprobate British earl married her for her money. Now a respectable widow, Belinda has become England’s most successful matchmaker, guiding young American heiresses through the hazards of the London season and helping them to find husbands worthy of them. To her mind, the Marquess of Trubridge is nothing but a fortune-hunting scoundrel and she has no intention of allowing him to charm his way into any American girl’s heart, including her own.

★✩★✩★✩★

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THE SUM OF ALL KISSES BY JULIA QUINN

(Smythe-Smith Quartet #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Official Blurb 

Hugh Prentice has never had patience for dramatic females, and if Lady Sarah Pleinsworth has ever been acquainted with the words shy or retiring, she’s long since tossed them out the window. Besides, a reckless duel has left this brilliant mathematician with a ruined leg, and now he could never court a woman like Sarah, much less dream of marrying her.

Sarah has never forgiven Hugh for the duel he fought that nearly destroyed her family. But even if she could find a way to forgive him, it wouldn’t matter. She doesn’t care that his leg is less than perfect, it’s his personality she can’t abide. But forced to spend a week in close company they discover that first impressions are not always reliable. And when one kiss leads to two, three, and four, the mathematician may lose count, and the lady may, for the first time, find herself speechless …

New York Times bestselling author Julia Quinn’s enchanting third novel in the Smythe-Smith quartet is guaranteed to make you laugh out loud and tug at your heartstrings in equal measures.

(Date of publication – Kindle: 29 October 2013) 

★✩★✩★✩★

WHEN THE MARQUESS MET HIS MATCH BY LAURA LEE GUHRKE

(An American Heiress in London #1)

Genre: Historical Romance 

Official Blurb 

What happens when a carefree, disreputable, stone-broke bachelor is forced to find a wife in a hurry? He hires a matchmaker, of course. What happens when the matchmaker doesn’t want to help him? Well, that’s when the fun begins…

Nicholas Stirling, Marquess of Trubridge, loves his life just as it is: dissolute, scandalous, and deuced good fun. His father, the Duke of Landsdowne is not amused, and when he cuts off Nicholas’ trust fund, the fun-loving marquess is forced to find an alternate source of income—in other words, he has to marry an heiress.

Every new-money American heiress knows Lady Belinda Featherstone is the key to social acceptance. Once a new-money nobody herself, Belinda discovered first-hand how heartbreaking the game of love and matrimony could be after a reprobate British earl married her for her money. Now a respectable widow, Belinda has become England’s most successful matchmaker, guiding young American heiresses through the hazards of the London season and helping them to find husbands worthy of them. To her mind, the Marquess of Trubridge is nothing but a fortune-hunting scoundrel and she has no intention of allowing him to charm his way into any American girl’s heart, including her own.

(Date of publication – Kindle: 29 October 2013) 

★✩★✩★✩★

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(Smythe-Smith Quartet #2)

Genre: Historical Romance

Official Blurb 

Anne Wynter’s job as governess to three highborn young ladies can be a challenge – in a single week she finds herself hiding in a closet full of tubas, playing an evil queen in a play and tending to the wounds of the oh-so-dashing Earl of Winstead. After years of dodging unwanted advances, he’s the first man who has truly tempted her, and it’s getting harder and harder to remind herself that a governess has no business flirting with a nobleman.

Daniel made a terrible mistake in his youth and Smythe-Smith might be in mortal danger, but that’s not going to stop the young earl from falling in love. And when he spies a mysterious woman at his family’s annual musicale, he vows to pursue her. But Daniel has an enemy, one who has vowed to see him dead. And when Anne is thrown into peril, he will stop at nothing to ensure their happy ending…

★✩★✩★✩★✩★

A NIGHT LIKE THIS is the second book in the Smythe-Smith Quartet series and, although I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as the first book JUST LIKE HEAVEN, it still combines all the elements that make Julia Quinn an absolute favourite of mine. I always know that I’m going to be drawn into her captivating world full of wonderful, loveable, quirky characters.

I completely fell for Daniel’s charm and wicked sense of humour. He’s someone who has learned from his past mistakes and takes his responsibilities seriously. I couldn’t help but adore a man who genuinely loves his family and obviously adores his Pleinsworth cousins.

It was good to be home. Even with the cacophony.
Especially with the cacophony. Nothing said “home” to a Smythe-Smith male like badly played music.

I love how the moment Daniel sets eyes on Anne, he is totally besotted and willing to do anything to be near her, even play the protagonist in his cousin Harriet’s impromptu play! What follows is a laugh-out-loud scene which showcases Ms Quinn’s sparkling, witty dialogue:

“Ah, yes,” Daniel said. “Yes, of course. Sadly, I do know a bit about facial disfigurement at present.”
“At least you won’t need any makeup,” Elizabeth said.
Daniel was thanking God for small favors, but then Harriet said, “Well, except for the wart.”

Warning! Do not mention the …

Anne is a delightful heroine. Charming, intelligent and kind, she’s understanding but firm with her charges. She never takes anything for granted but appreciates the stability, position and self-respect she has working as a governess for the Pleinsworths. As the secrets she keeps so closely guarded are finally revealed, the story takes on a more dramatic tone than usually found in Ms Quinn’s books. When her past finally catches up with her, she’s no wimpy miss but refuses to submit without a fight.

If Anne was going to be saved, she would have to do it herself.
“It is time to be your own heroine,” she whispered.

I enjoyed watching the relationship between Daniel and Anne unfold; hearing their thoughts and feeling their emotions:

the initial attraction… 

Time stopped. It simply stopped. It was the most maudlin and clichéd way of describing it, but those few seconds when her face was lifted toward his … they stretched and pulled, melting into eternity.

♥♥

Anne’s lips parted. His skin was warm, and now hers was hot where he touched her. Something strange and vaguely familiar bubbled within her, and with a prickle of shock she realized it was excitement.

the yearning… 

“I want the kiss,” he said huskily, “and then I want more. I want things you cannot even know about.”
They stood in silence, eyes locked.
“But most of all,” he whispered, “I want to kiss you.”
And then, in a voice so soft it was barely more than breath, she said, “I want it, too.”

the final surrender… 

“Oh, Daniel …”
His lips found her ear again, and his voice was hot and husky on her skin. “Before the night is through, I’m going to make you scream.”
She had just enough sense left to say, “No. You can’t.”
He lifted her against him, with just enough roughness that her feet left the ground and she had no choice but to wrap her legs around his. “I assure you, I can.”

There is always a strong sense of family which I love about Ms Quinn’s books. The friendly bickering between the Pleinsworth sisters, Harriet, Elizabeth and Frances always made me smile.

I was intrigued by Daniel’s friend, Hugh Prentice and I was hoping he would have his own book. So I’m a happy bunny because Ms Quinn’s next book, THE SUM OF ALL KISSES (29 October 2013) features Hugh as the hero and Sarah, the eldest of Pleinsworth sisters, as the heroine. I am definitely looking forward to the next performance by the Smythe-Smith Quartet.

The villain of the piece is suitably menacing, if just a little bit over the top, but I liked the dramatic climax in which Daniel proves to be the perfect “knight in shining armour” and Anne proves that women aren’t just decorative.

I don’t think Ms Quinn has ever surpassed her brilliant Bridgerton series but A NIGHT LIKE THIS is a delightful story full of romance, charm and humour.

REVIEW RATING: 4.5/5 Stars

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read June 2013

The Smythe-Smith Quartet series (click on book cover for more details)

Just Like Heaven (Smythe-Smith Quartet #1) A Night Like This (Smythe-Smith Quartet #2) The Sum of All Kisses (Smythe-Smith Quartet, #3)

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Just Like Heaven - Julia Quinn

SMYTHE-SMITH QUARTET SERIES ( #1)

Setting: England 1824

Honoria Smythe-Smith is:
A) a really bad violinist
B) still miffed at being nicknamed “Bug” as a child
C) not in love with her older brother’s best friend
D) all of the above

Marcus Holroyd is:
A) the Earl of Chatteris
B) regrettably prone to sprained ankles
C) not in love with his best friend’s younger sister
D) all of the above

Together they:
A) eat quite a bit of chocolate cake
B) survive a deadly fever and the world’s worst musical performance
C) fall quite desperately in love

It’s Julia Quinn at her best, so you know the answer is …
D) all of the above

★✩★✩★✩★✩★✩★✩★✩★✩★✩★✩★✩★✩★✩

Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series is a great favourite of mine and anyone who’s read the series will be familiar with the Smythe-Smith quartet. For those readers who haven’t read the Bridgerton books, the quartet of three sisters and a cousin gives an annual musical performance which can only be described as a discordant cacophony of sounds! So I was delighted to discover that Ms Quinn’s new series features the young ladies of this quartet. The first book, JUST LIKE HEAVEN, is a delightful story full of romance, charm and humour.

Feeling down? Well this book is the ideal cure! It has no great conflict, no heartrending angst and no threatening villains but I loved escaping into the cosy world Ms Quinn has created with an enchanting friends-to-lovers story.

I adore Marcus and Honoria because neither of them conforms to the typical hero and heroine you find in so many books. Marcus is not one of those drop dead gorgeous rakes whom every woman drools over. In fact, he’s shy, not particularly handsome, and hates being the centre of attention. Honoria is very down to earth, honest, loves getting together with her cousins just to chat and longs for a husband, her own home and a big family. I found it easy to relate to them because they seemed so much like real people.

Marcus’s illness provides the impetus for them to recognise that their feelings for each other are something more than friendship. Some reviewers have complained that Ms Quinn devotes an inordinate amount of the book to Marcus’s illness but I feel that these scenes are integral to the story. They reveal Honoria and Marcus’s innermost thoughts about each other and move their relationship forward to the next level. They also serve to highlight Honoria’s single-mindedness and courage in the face of adversity.

Ms Quinn also manages to blend in touches of her trademark humour as well. I love Honoria’s chatter to Marcus, even though he can’t hear her:

“I am thinking that when you are better you should come to London.” Honoria went on, fixing her voice back into a facsimile of good cheer. “If nothing else, you will need a new pair of boots. Maybe something of a looser fit. It’s not the style, I know, but perhaps you can set a new trend.”

I’d probably be just like Honoria, babbling a lot of trivialities, if I were sick with worry!

Marcus’s laudanum induced hallucination is also very funny:

He might have slept for a bit. He rather hoped he was sleeping, because he was quite certain he’d seen a six-foot rabbit hopping through his bedchamber, and if that wasn’t a dream, they were in big trouble.

I love how Ms Quinn emphasises the importance of family and friends, something that seems sadly missing in our 21st century society. Marcus values his friendship with Daniel and the sense of family he finds with the Smythe-Smiths because he’d never experienced either before. For Honoria, family means everything, and although she knows how truly dreadful they are, upholding the tradition of the musical performance is very important to her. She regards her cousins as friends as well as family and loves the rehearsals because it gives her the opportunity to simply chat with them.

Their first kiss seems such a natural progression and in perfect harmony with the story. Honoria is so happy to see Marcus recovered that she’s sobbing and naturally throws her arms around him and then:

“Honoria”, he whispered, looking down at her as if he’d never seen her before. His eyes were warm, chocolaty brown and rich with emotion. Something flared in their depths, something she didn’t quite recognise, and slowly, ever so slowly, his lips dipped to meet hers.

So romantic!

Marcus has always found Honoria’s ‘lucky red shoes’ a turn on and it is these shoes that ultimately move the story towards the big love scene which is really worth waiting for! Ms Quinn doesn’t do steamy but her scene is both tender and poignant with lovely touches of teasing between them.

The Smythe-Smith Quartet themselves provide some really funny moments with their friendly bickering and it‘s a bonus to meet some familiar faces from the Bridgerton series including my favourite Colin Bridgerton and the indomitable Lady Danbury.

If you’re in the mood for a tender romance with endearing characters, sparkling dialogue and delightful touches of humour, JUST LIKE HEAVEN is simply perfect. I’m now looking forward to reading the other books in this series but will be sure to have my earplugs at the ready!

RATING : ★★★★★

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read September 2011

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