After I had huge fun with the Bridgerton books, I knew that I wanted to discover all the other stories, the author would bring to life about another family. And what fun it was. If you know the Bridgerton´s you will love this series too. And if you still can hear the music the Smythe-Smith Quartet was playing in some of the Bridgerton novels you can imagine what it feels like to hear that here again *smile*

Just Like Heaven
by Julia Quinn
Smythe-Smith Series #1
Publisher Piatkus on June 2, 2011
Genre Novel
Pages 384
Format Paperback
Source Purchased

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. In fact, she freely admits (to her cousins) that she is probably the worst of the bunch. 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 out of the country. He’s promised to watch out for Honoria and takes his responsibility very seriously. But he has his work cut out for him when Honoria 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? 
Honoria is desperate because she is about to perform again with the Smythe-Smith Quartet. Nothing bad actually, because she loves this family tradition and has great fun with her cousins at rehearsals. But she also knows how disastrous they all sound like. Only marriage can save her from this gig and so she decides to set a trap for her chosen one. But as it is in life: it always turns out differently than you think. And so, Honoria does not have to free the candidate she has chosen from the trap, but rather her long-time friend Marcus, also known as the Earl of Chatteris. A liberation with bad health consequences for the earl and one that soon brings them into dire straits. 

Incredible funny, with very quick-witted dialogues and tremendous charm, has Julia Quinn written her novel Just Like Heaven. Funny scenes and two main characters that make this novel incredibly charming and fun. I guess every fan of the Bridgerton´s remembers the torture of the Smythe-Smith concerts only too well. So, it is really refreshing to learn about the feelings the members of the Smythe-Smith family have when it comes to being a part of that quartet. Especially Honoria has an extremely unique and lovely way to express her feelings about it. Honoria and Marcus let the reader participate in their thoughts and considerations and they are huge. The reader seldom gets out of the smile and laugh. But the author also puts the most beautiful words and expressions in her characters´ mouths. Self-irony is not spared and when Honoria indulges in her feminine thoughts and repeatedly calls herself to order in her very own critical way, then the reader´s self-control is over.

The plot is varied, entertaining, and takes the reader back to the time around 1824 when the virtue of women was still absolutely protected, and it was simply not appropriate for them to be alone with a man anywhere. Especially not if the woman in question is still unmarried. But Julia Quinn brings her main character into the most impossible situations again and again with a lot of humor and even more mischief and the way she works her way out of them is a true poem for the reader. Nevertheless, it must also be said that the novel also has the one or the other weak point. The author holds on to her beautiful and easy-going writing style. Even in the painful and bloody scene where Honoria´s mother saves the life of the Earl of Chatteris. Well, during that scene I couldn’t avoid thinking that the author used there a bit too much pathos, and sometimes I had the feeling that the figures do a lot of things that were – for that time – very unusual. But that doesn´t harm the charm of this novel and the novel is wonderfully entertaining, diverting, and contains a lot of self-mockery.

The Smythe-Smith family members, especially the female ones, have a very realistic way of their music skills and they know, that they sound just terrible. To read about that, to be part of their practice hours, their way of speaking with each other, and how they treat each other is simply said great and very funny. And what Honoria and her cousins talk about! They have topics I´d never thought that they would speak about it in the way they do. They´re very outspoken, say what they have to say, and don´t mind to shut someone up. Watching them was just exquisite. In general, the characters in this novel surprise you in the most positive way. They are convincing, look like they have been taken from real life, and go through life with a strong will, the right self-assessment, and even more joy – just great.

An extremely amusing novel with just the right amount of fun, irony, and amusement. Just Like Heaven is a wonderful novel, well-written and for all fans of the Bridgerton´s the next pleasure.

Happy reading

Julia Quinn
Julia Quinn ©Roberto File

Julia Quinn started writing her first book one month after finishing college and has been tapping away at her keyboard ever since. The #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than two dozen novels for Avon Books, she is a graduate of Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges and is one of only sixteen authors ever to be inducted in the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family.



  1. I listened to the audio for this several years ago. It was one of my first Regency type romances, and I remember finding all the hijinks quite amusing.

    1. I have it as audio too and every time I hear it it makes me laugh. Honoria is one heck of a woman *smile*


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