Monday, November 19, 2012

Pop Tarts Book Club: "Just Like Heaven" by Julia Quinn

For our book club selection this ... month? quarter? whatever ... we chose "Just Like Heaven" by Julia Quinn. Warning ... there are spoilers ahead.

Synopsis: Just like heaven follows Honoria Smythe-Smith, a member of the famed Smythe-Smith family - famed for holding an incredibly terrible musicale each year. The unmarried women who are old enough perform for the musicale must perform, and Honoria is one of them.

As "Just Like Heaven" opens, Honoria Smythe-Smith meets up with Marcus Holroyd, her brother Daniel's best friend from school, a man who she has known for years. Marcus, the Earl of Chatteris, is a very lonely man who spent a lot of time during his formative years with the Smythe-Smith family. However, Honoria and Marcus haven't seen each other in many years, because Daniel left England in disgrace.

Honoria and her friends plan a party and invite many eligible bachelors, including Marcus - although Honoria advises him to not to come since he hates parties. She lays a trap for another man she is chasing - a fake mole hole for her to get her foot stuck in - but, unfortunately for him, Marcus chooses that time to come find Honoria, and he sprains his ankle. By the time he gets home, one of his servants must cut his boot off and cuts him. His cut gets infected and he gets very sick.

Marcus' housekeeper lets Honoria know, and she and her mother travel to his house to care for him. He nearly dies, but when he gets better, they have a minor conflict when Honoria finds out that Daniel had Marcus watch over her when he had to leave the country. However, by then Marcus has realized that he loves Honoria, and of course Honoria loves him.

They perform the musicale, they have sex, Daniel comes back, Marcus defends Honoria's honor,  they get married. Tra la la, all is well!

Jen's Thoughts: "Just Like Heaven" is a frothy, fun little romance novel. There's not a lot of real conflict, and it's not terribly consequential. However, it's nice that neither Marcus nor Honoria have real problems that cause strife in their relationship. They come together naturally, and it's sweet. They probably should communicate more (like all romance-novel characters), but it makes sense that they don't because Marcus is shy and Honoria is embarrassed about falling in love with her brother's friend, who has known her since she was a rather obnoxious child. Honoria and Marcus are also super fun and very, very likable, which is a great after reading "Love Only Once" where I didn't really like the main characters very well. Overall, "Just Like Heaven" was a perfect light read when you're looking for something that's high on fun and humor and low on drama.

Kel's Thoughts: I really really enjoyed "Just Like Heaven". I read a lot of romance novels and most are fun and amusing, but rarely do they make me laugh out laugh. Julia Quinn makes me laugh. What I enjoyed most about "Just Like Heaven" was the relationship all the way through between Marcus and Honoria. Honoria was the youngest of her family by a lot. Her next closest sibling was Daniel, who was four or so years older than her. As adults, that isn't a big deal, but when Honoria is six and Daniel is ten, it is a stretch. Marcus is incredibly shy, but ends up hanging out with Daniel who is anything but, which means that Marcus hangs out with Honoria from the time he is ten. I liked that the love between Honoria and Marcus as adults was based on friendship instead of insta-love. It takes them both a while to figure out that what they are feeling is love and even longer to admit it to one another, but I really didn't have a problem with their lack of communication.

As Jen pointed out, most romance novel problems can be solved with the characters talking to one another honestly and usually it annoys the hell out of me when they don't. However, with Marcus especially I felt like he really would not have talked to Honoria about why he was always scowling at her when they were out with the ton. Nor would he have told her about his deal with Daniel to make sure she didn't marry anyone unacceptable. Marcus is shy and really doesn't like being the center of attention so he isn't going to call attention to himself, even with Honoria.

Another thing I really enjoyed about Marcus and Honoria is their panic. Constant panic. When Marcus is sick with a fever, Honoria has no idea what to do about it. Usually romance novel heroines magically know how to nurse a guy back to health. Honoria just sort of freaks out about not knowing what to do. And then after Marcus eventually wakes up from his fever, he kisses Honoria and they both panic. And then don't really discuss it for a while. Panic and denial! And lastly, the best thing about Honoria and Marcus is their shared love of sweets. All their fun stories about sneaking treats as kids are adorable and show that their relationship really has solid ground. And right at the beginning when Marcus saves Honoria from the rain, he has chocolate cake and the descriptions of them eating was amazing. Marcus eats his cake in two bites while Honoria savors hers, which makes Marcus eye her cake. So great.


We loved "Just Like Heaven" so much more than "Love Only Once". The characters were super likable and though it was fairly low on drama (especially since you know Marcus isn't going to die when he has a fever for half the book), it is a sweet, fun story. It also segues really nicely into the sequel "A Night Like This" which starts at the musicale that ends "Just Like Heaven". And you get to see the aftermath of Daniel and Marcus's fight from Daniel's point of view. And really, if you thought Marcus and Honoria were likable, you will also love Daniel (Kel already read "A Night Like This").

Next Time, on Pop Tarts Book Club ...

We will be reading "When Beauty Tamed the Beast" by Eloisa James. Read it, and we shall be talking about it soon!

No comments:

Post a Comment