It’s not everyday that you find a historical romance book that will make you laugh out loud. Historical romance is more about passion than comedy, but Just Like Heaven was such a treat. I found myself actually laughing out loud at various times, which is a rare experience for me when reading a historical romance novel.
The back of the book is as follows:
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
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
I have to admit that I let this sit on my shelf for about a year before I actually picked it up to read. I know, I know, it had so many good reviews, but the words above just bored me. I felt like it was too…common. Like it was nothing different from the numerous historical romance books I’ve already read.
Finally, I promised myself I’ll read it this year. Plus, I love Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series (which is also funny so don’t miss out on that one!), so I thought this couldn’t be so bad. Oh, how right I was!
Well, I was right on my two assumptions: One, that the plot is similar to other historical romance books; and two, that it could not be so bad. In fact, it’s really not bad. It’s awesome.
Honoria Smythe-Smith is not exactly the most adorable character I’ve ever come across, but she is quite endearing. Her desperation was just funny to me because she really tried so hard to get a husband, including digging up a hole…figuratively and literally. I liked that she is very devoted to tradition and that she’s not some spoiled miss who was just transformed because of love. She just stayed the way she was throughout the story – funny, endearing, likeable. I found myself relating to some of her thoughts actually, which is one of the things I liked about the book.
Marcus Holroyd, on the other hand, man, he just oozed manliness. I loved that he was not afraid to stand up for Honoria, even though he’s shy. And I like the characterization that he was not handsome, unlike other leading male characters in other hist. rom. books. Now that I think about it, both characters are not presented as perfect, but just right. Except for the fact that while Marcus swept Honoria off her feet, I found myself being swept along too.
The plot felt a little too fast-paced, and the character of Mrs. Smythe-Smith feels a little too hurried in her development. From what I understood in the book, she became an introvert and unmotivated woman when Daniel Smythe-Smith, her son, left for Italy. But at Honoria’s urging to get to Marcus (I won’t be spoiling that for you!), she suddenly transformed into this can-do woman. Also, Daniel’s arrival was left unmentioned by the end of the book, before the epilogue, which I thought would have been a huge deal, especially for Mrs. Smythe-Smith, and of course all the attendees. From what I understood based on my readings of hist. rom. books, the ton back then are quick to notice sudden appearances, especially since Daniel has such a notorious reputation.
Do I recommend it? If you’re not yet bored of the same plot (two friends suddenly discovering they love each other), then go for it. Actually, I did not even notice the ordinary plot until after the book because it was just such fun to read. I recommend it to all historical romance lovers out there, and even chic lit lovers.
Just Like Heaven is an especially great companion at night, when you’re unwinding and just trying to end the day happy. Thank you, Julia. I can’t wait to read the next book, A Night Like This, which is about one of the characters mentioned in Just Like Heaven that just arouses curiosity.