Honoria Smythe-Smith, the youngest daughter of the eldest son of the Earl of Winstead, plays the violin in the annual musicale performed by the Smythe-Smith quartet. She’s well aware that they are dreadful but she’s the sort who figures that nothing good will come of being mortified, so she puts on a good show and laughs about it.
Marcus Holroyd is the best friend of Honoria’s brother Daniel, who lives in exile. Marcus has promised to watch out for Honoria, but he faces a challenge when she sets off for Cambridge determined to marry by the end of the season. She’s got her eye on the only unmarried Bridgerton, who’s a bit wet behind the ears. When her advances are spurned, can Marcus swoop in and steal her heart in time for the musicale?
Just Like Heaven was my first book by Julia Quinn. The first thing I did when I finished with it was ask myself why the hell I had waited so long to give this author a try. This lady is funny! Three chapters into the book and I was giggling like an idiot.
Just Like Heaven is the first book in the Smythe-Smith series. The Smythe-Smiths are ginormous family who under the misapprehension that their young ladies are musically gifted. Any unmarried member of the Smythe-Smith family is drafted into performing in the family’s annual musicale. Despite the inexplicably high attendance of said musicale, these ladies are really, super bad. They should not be allowed to do what they do. Unfortunately, most of the family is blissfully unaware of the musical carnage the wreak every year.
However, Honoria Smythe-Smith’s ears are in perfect working order and she knows exactly how bad they are. Honoria plays the violin although, from the way it is described, the word “play” might be a little too optimistic for what it is Honoria does. I loved Honoria to bits. She was so funny, and she never let herself be put off by the fact that the music created by the Smythe-Smith quartet could easily be used as an instrument of torture. See, for Honoria, it’s not about the music; it’s about family and upholding family traditions. Our hero is only child, Marcus. He and Daniel, Honoria’s older brother, have been friends since they were children and so Marcus has always been considered a member of the Smythe-Smith family. So when Daniel is exiled from London after a moment of epic stupidity, it’s up to Marcus to pick up the slack on the whole “concerned big brother” gig.
The events of this book border on the ridiculous. Honoria and her friends/cousins are on a mission: find a husband before the season’s end or be forced to perform in yet another Smythe-Smith musicale. Some, like Honoria’s cousin Sarah, just want to find a husband in order to avoid the ordeal that is the musicale. Honoria’s motives are far more noble: she just wants a family of her own. Since Daniel was forced to leave London, things at home haven’t been the same and she misses the chaos of having a big family. Though, I have to say at this point that I’m glad I’m not living back in the day. The level of planning and creativity it takes to attract a husband would be completely beyond me. These ladies were not screwing around.
But even the best laid plans have a tendency to go horrendously wrong. Just ask Honoria and Marcus, who fell victim to Honoria’s mad scheming. Marcus was really such a gem. He was so completely into Honoria, even after her antics left him bedridden for a week. While there obviously wasn’t any malice behind her actions, I still would’ve thought that he might feel the need to approach Honoria with some caution.
I loved all the characters in this book, especially Honoria’s cousins. These chicks were completely batty, but every one of them added something to the story. Daisy was one of those misguided family members who believes in the Smythe-Smith family’s musical prowess; Sarah knows full well that they suck and she’s willing to resort to extreme measures in order to get out of performing; Iris is actually pretty good, not that you can tell with the racket her cousins make. This story was just so sweet and fluffy! Kinda like candyfloss, only without the nausea afterwards.
Here’s a quote from Marcus, which I think very neatly sums up how bad the Smythe-Smith quartet actually is:
Marcus could not possibly have described the sound that came forth from the four instruments in the Smythe-Smith rehearsal room. He was not sure that there were words that would be accurate, at least not in polite company. He was loath to call it music; in all honesty, it was more of a weapon than anything else.