The Duke and I

The Further Observations

of Lady Whistledown
How to Marry a Marquis

It's In His Kiss

The Lost Duke of Wyndham

Mr. Cavendish, I Presume

An Offer From a Gentleman

On the Way to the Wedding

Romancing Mr. Bridgerton

The Secret Diaries of

Miss Miranda Cheever
Ten Things I Love About You

To Catch an Heiress

To Sir Phillip With Love

The Viscount Who Loved Me

What Happens in London

When He Was Wicked

 
Just Like Heaven
by Julia Quinn
(Avon, $7.99, PG) ISBN 978-006-149190-0
****
Julia Quinn has continued the Bridgerton series by focusing on another family of the era. Anyone who has read a Bridgerton story remembers the Symthe-Smith musicales. They were notorious for their ineptitude. Everyone knew they were terrible examples of maidenly skills on the piano or the violin, but out of respect for the family, no one could ever tell any of them had terrible they were. This story is about Honoria, one of the many cousins forced to play the violin in front of people. Honoria is entering her third season and until she is happily married, she will be included in the event due to time honored family tradition. She is able to laugh and smile her way through, knowing that she is keeping to that tradition and her mother and aunts are happy.

Honoria has had an interesting childhood. Her older brother Daniel was her idol and she was constantly following Daniel and his friends around. One friend in particular always struck her fancy, as he was the easiest to convince to let her tag along. Marcus Holroyd is his name. And Marcus became her friend and they have known each other since Honoria was seven and Marcus was 12.

As adults they have drifted apart, but Marcus and Daniel have remained friends. Daniel is currently in Italy, having been involved in a scandal and a duel, which forced him to leave or run the risk of an angry man accusing him of trying to kill his son. As he was leaving, Daniel asked Marcus to watch over Honoria, since she was due to debut within a short period of time. Marcus, hating London and the season, reluctantly agreed. And of course, he doesn’t tell Honoria. So she sees him frowning at her all year, when in reality, he is frowning at the several beaus who do not come up to scratch. Hence, she is unmarried after two seasons.

In the summer, Marcus and Honoria run into each other near Marcus’s home in Cambridge when Honoria is there with a friend who also lives nearby. One thing leads to the other and Marcus ends up drastically ill. Honoria and her mother end up nursing him back to health, during which time Honoria realizes she has fallen in love. Marcus draws the same conclusion about his feelings. And now they have to figure out how to deal with each other since they don’t think the other realizes it.

Marcus is a bit of a mystery. On the one hand, he is easy to understand – he grew up with an absent and then deceased mother and a father who gave him his attention only a few times a year. He was raised by tutors, the housekeeper and his teachers at Eton. If he had not befriended Daniel Smythe-Smith and spent time at his home, he would have no clue what a family was, let alone that he wanted one. On the other hand, he is an Earl and has a reputation as a recluse. He seems different only around the Smythe-Smiths and with Honoria in particular. Overall, I liked him and his sarcastic humor.

Honoria is a bit advanced for the time period. The reader has to accept the whole plot line where she and her mother nurse him without an immediate marriage following. I kept waiting for her mother to remind Marcus of his duty, but it never happened. But she is funny, sentimental, hardheaded, sensible and at times a bit of a romantic. She is solid and an enjoyable heroine.

I had a great time reading this book. There are times I questioned what was going on, but it was easy to stay with Quinn’s easy going style and just take things as they came. Her use of humor and her ability to give her characters multiple dimensions is her forte. It was because of the author’s skill that I got way more enjoyment then not. This is not the best Quinn, but it is a good Quinn. It will be interesting to see who she highlights next…will it be Daniel, or the cynical cousin Iris or the overly emotional cousin Sarah? I look forward to the second tale because I enjoyed Just Like Heaven.

--Shirley Lyons


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