Review: Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn

Thursday, June 30

Title:  Just Like Heaven*
Author: Julia Quinn
Series:Smythe-Smith family #1
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Avon
Format:  mass market paperback, digital ebook
Date/Year:  May 2011
Reviewed by: Booklover1335

*This book was provided to me by the publisher for review

Summary from the publisher:

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

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

A) eat quite a bit of chocolate cake
B) survive a deadly fever AND 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

My Musings:

I've been a Julia Quinn fan for years! The Bridgerton series is one of my all time favorite historical romance series, but over the course of the last few years with some of her other novels such as The Lost Duke of Wyndham series, I became somewhat disenchanted. I didn't really care for them so instead of going out and purchasing them as soon as they were released, I waited, and a few I just never picked up.

That is not the case with Just Like Heaven. It was superb! The heroine is the star of the book and is one of my favorites so far this year. She's sincere, loves her family, and has character. She's part of the Smythe-Smith family (even the name is hilarious) that fans of Ms. Quinn's have read about for years, and I have to admit I was wondering how the author was going to make a romance out of a musicale that is a joke in the Ton. But she did it, and in spades.

Just Like Heaven is one of those rare friends to lover stories. The hero and the heroine have known each other since childhood and grew up as neighbors. Honoria was always a bit of an outsider in a large family...always tagging along with her older brother and his friend Marcus. Marcus is an only child who craves the kind of love and family that the Smythe-Smiths have and they welcome him with open arms into their lives. As they grow older they grow apart, but then discover each other again, not just as friends, but as something more, and find that the love that each has been searching for is with each other.

I simply adored Just Like Heaven!  I loved that Honoria loved her family and felt that tradition is so important that she endures the annual Smythe-Smith musicale even though she knows she is horrible, but smiles and puts her heart into it anyway.  I love that Marcus sees and appreciates Honoria for the person that she is, and claps enthusiastically for her because he understands why she smiles even though it’s painful to listen to.  Because that’s what friends do for each other, they support you and love you anyway.

This book is romance at it's best. Witty dialogue, touching moments, funny moments that will make you laugh out's a feel good book, that you will hate to put down. I adored the book! It's like a cupcake, cake (that is the substance that grounds the book), frosting (sweetness that will make you purr in delight), and some sprinkles of fun to top it all off. I highly recommend it. A great book for JQ fans, and even for readers who are contemplating trying out a romance novel.

And to illustrate I have my own version of a Smythe-Smith recital :)  These are five and six year olds playing a song, which I’m sorry to say you won’t  be able to recognize until 0:44 into the video. 

This is why I think it is representative of the story...  some of the cuties played with enthusiasm and for the love of the music (not realizing just how bad they were), some of the cuties knew how bad they were, but endured the embarrassment of the performance for their families in the audience, and some probably knew how bad it sounded but had fun despite it all.  It’s painful and precious at the same time. But for me it represents all of the Smythe-Smith heroines (which we meet in JLH and will be in future books).  Sometimes you cringe for them, but me, I couldn’t help smile from ear to ear throughout the whole musical program I attended, as well at the entire book :)  I was reading Just Like Heaven when this performance happened and it definitely struck the right chords for me!  Just Like Heaven was a romantic symphony of characters, despite the cacophonic musical performances, that I can almost guarantee that will make you grin from ear to ear in reading enjoyment!


Overall: 4.5 stars (I really loved it!  I think it is the perfect summer romance, but obviously not everyone agrees with me)

Sensuality level:  2.0 (for a romance, this book actually has very few love scenes between the hero and the heroine. Being a romance reader that LOVES steamy romances I was not disappointed in this book in the least, because it was so well written that I didn't care that it didn't go much beyond kisses.)    

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Anonymous,  June 30, 2011 at 12:01 PM  

Great review, Carrie!!! I JUST bought this one. After reading your review, I'm pushing it up to the top of the TBR. JQ Rocks.

Booklover1335 June 30, 2011 at 12:30 PM  

Thanx Barbara! I'm glad you enjoyed it and I hope you enjoy Just Like Heaven even more. I know you've been looking for friends to lovers stories, so I'll be interested to see what you think of it.

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