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98 of 107 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great way to spend a few hours!
Traditional historical romance isn't my usual cup of tea and having never read a Julia Quinn book, I had no idea what to expect; Just Like Heaven is delightful!

The book's blurb reveals who falls for whom, the fun is in how they get there. Set in early 1800's England, we're immediately introduced to Marcus, a lonely, motherless, only child. As is tradition, his...
Published on April 28, 2011 by Tracy Francis

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165 of 175 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A simple and light romance, which is sometimes just what you need
When I first started reading romances, Julia Quinn was one of my favorite authors and I fell absolutely in love with her Bridgerton series, as I know many other romance readers did as well. The past few years, her books have been uneven for me, so I was a little nervous about picking this one up. The Smythe-Smiths were famous (or infamous is probably more accurate) but...
Published on May 2, 2011 by J. P.


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165 of 175 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A simple and light romance, which is sometimes just what you need, May 2, 2011
This review is from: Just Like Heaven (Mass Market Paperback)
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When I first started reading romances, Julia Quinn was one of my favorite authors and I fell absolutely in love with her Bridgerton series, as I know many other romance readers did as well. The past few years, her books have been uneven for me, so I was a little nervous about picking this one up. The Smythe-Smiths were famous (or infamous is probably more accurate) but would it be what you expect from a Quinn book - a fun and light romance - or would it be like the past few duds?

I was pleasantly surprised and somewhat relieved that I ended up enjoying it. I liked the simplicity of the book and the hero and heroine are very likable; one thing I love about Julia Quinn books is that her heroines are always women whom I think would be nice to have as friends. However the lack of any real spark made it not much of a keeper for me. When I really love a romance, I end the book with a ridiculously stupid grin on my face that doesn't go away for hours; here, that didn't happen.

PROS:
It did have some strong aspects, while also missing those that we - or at least I - often bemoan in romance book:
- There was no contrived subplot - mystery, mass-murdering or otherwise
- There is not instant lust; they've known each other since childhood and have considered one another practical brother and sister
- There are no love interests thrown in for the sole purpose of dragging the plot out and making you squirm in your seat - or couch or bed - and there were no hated Big Misunderstandings
- The book was really focused on the two main characters, Honoria and Marcus
- One really gets the sense that they *would* make a lovely couple and have a lot of what the other needs

So why the 3 stars? I was actually torn between 3 and 3.5, but either way I think this book may have suffered having been read a day after I finished two absolutely great HRs that I gave 4.5 and 5 stars. It was a perfect light, simple, fun romance read and sometimes that is what you need. Quinn delivers on the dialogue and back and forth repartee, just as she used to so wonderfully in the Bridgerton books.

I also thought Marcus was a wonderful hero. Most romance heroes are rakes or rogues of some sort, but Marcus is actually a quiet, shy, serious (but not stuffy) sort of man. We're told that people often consider him formidable and imposing, but we're not ever really shown this, since we mostly see the softer side that he shows to Honoria. I loved that what he longed for was a family and someone to love who would love him in return. One of the things that draws him most to Honoria is her loving, carefree manner and the value she places on others, on family, and on tradition. In this sense, the story was truly lovely and Marcus's wonder in the Epilogue at the family he has begun to form is touching and sweet.

CONS:
My main criticisms that kept it from receiving a higher rating are the following (*warning* they detail parts of the plot that some might consider spoilers) ...

(1) Marcus gets deathly ill and Honoria rushes with her mother to his bedside to nurse him. This part seemed to really drag on and the section of his illness *seems* to take up half the book. Other romances have this plot device and don't suffer from it, but here I think it dragged on too long and since Marcus is insensible for most of it, one doesn't feel that it develops their relationship much.

(2) While the part of his illness seemed dragged out, the rest seemed very, very rushed. What we enjoy is the process of them falling in love, them working their feelings out and acting them, and then the happy conclusion. This part of the story is not explored enough for me and besides for a brief little kiss when he gets better, the only other romance scene between them is at the end. Quinn's books have never been heavy on the steamy aspect, but I definitely expected more than this.

BOTTOM LINE
JUST LIKE HEAVEN is perfect for a light, fun afternoon read and I would recommend getting it from the library, but don't read it when you're wanting a romance that packs a punch and affects you emotionally.

* This review is of an advance reading copy provided by the Amazon Vine Program.
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98 of 107 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great way to spend a few hours!, April 28, 2011
This review is from: Just Like Heaven (Mass Market Paperback)
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Traditional historical romance isn't my usual cup of tea and having never read a Julia Quinn book, I had no idea what to expect; Just Like Heaven is delightful!

The book's blurb reveals who falls for whom, the fun is in how they get there. Set in early 1800's England, we're immediately introduced to Marcus, a lonely, motherless, only child. As is tradition, his father sends him off to an elite boarding school where he is befriended by Daniel, an outgoing classmate. Marcus gains not only a best friend, but the family he never had, including Daniel's pesky little sister, Honoria.

Pan forward 15 years. Marcus promised Daniel before he left London, that he'd watch over Honoria and ensure her male suitors were worthy. Unfortunately for Honoria, no one was good enough; Marcus, the powerful Earl with brooding eyes, effectively secured her single status.

Twenty-one and desperate, Honoria concocts a "hairbrained" plan to gain the attention of a particular young man and sets in motion a series of events that cause her and Marcus to really see each other for the first time. Unsure of the other's feelings, they dance around each other until the interference of a crafty old broad (Marcus's great-great Aunt) brings the situation to a head.

I loved the individuality of the characters voices. I appreciated Honoria's strength; she is no shrinking violet! The best part? Some of the dialog and individual points of view had me laughing out loud.

Just Like Heaven is romantic, witty and charming - the perfect vehicle to escape life for a few hours.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Heavenly Love Story, May 5, 2011
This review is from: Just Like Heaven (Mass Market Paperback)
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At last! This is a book that is all about the developing love between two people who have been friends since they were children. Marcus was an only child, and while not mistreated, he was mostly neglected by his parents. He was lonely, and had no friends until he was sent to school. He became best friends with Daniel, who often invited him home on holidays. While there, they were often shadowed by Honoria, Daniel's little sister. Over the years, they became good friends. After Honoria debuted into society, Marcus kept an eye on her, and "discouraged" all suitors he felt were unworthy. Honoria, determined to catch a potential suitor's attention, stages a fake accident which inadvertently sets off a chain of events which ends up endangering Marcus' life. As she rushes to be with him, and take care of him, she comes to realize how much he means to her. The book then deals with their blossoming love, and it's wonderful to see. Marcus is thought to be grim and aloof, when in fact, he is just shy. Honoria is able to bring out the humor and laughter in him. There were no death threats, no lurking spies, no family secrets, no big misunderstandings. Marcus' bleak childhood didn't lead him to becoming a rake, he became a good man. This is just a lovely, lovely story of two people finding each other. (And for those of us who follow Julia Quinn, take note that Honoria IS s Smythe-Smith, and we are treated to the delights of their annual musicale.) Highly recommended!
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59 of 69 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed...Again, June 2, 2011
By 
Geheimnis (Grand Rapids, MI) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Just Like Heaven (Mass Market Paperback)
Because of her wonderful earlier books, I continue to give Ms. Quinn the benefit of the doubt each time she releases a new novel. And, like other reviewers, I had heard that this book brought back the Julia Quinn of Bridgerton fame. It was not to be.

While Ms. Quinn's early books were unique because they were funny, light and delightful, I think she has taken this attempt at style too far. In the past several books (this one no exception), she immerses her characters in a babble of inner monologue, rather than incorporating true, character-building dialogue. Here is an example:

"He liked carrots. Although orange had never really
been one of his favorite colors. He'd always found
it a little jarring. It seemed to pop up when he
didn't expect it, and he preferred his life without
surprises."

This book is filled with non-sequiturs like that. Perhaps ONE would have been mildly amusing, but instead they are used as filler. Take them out and this book would have far, far shorter. Here's another example:

"He nodded and ate some more. Or rather, drank some
more. Did one eat soup or drink it? And more to the
point, could he get some cheese to melt on top?"

Again, by itself it might be cute. Unfortunately, all of this fluff leads to a book that is devoid of character- and relationship-building. The hero and heroine have very little chemistry. Most of the book takes place within the context of a convalescence, so there is precious little physical passion, and the one scene at the end of the book feels forced and awkward, like Ms. Quinn was contractually obligated to put a sex scene in. It does not feel like the consummation of a great love or even great passion.

Finally, while I am no fan of the overdone "villain" plot line, this book could have used... something. The plot is a flat line. I found it quite boring to read. Hopefully Ms. Quinn manages to get some new ideas, or a new editor, or some sort of change that may help her to revert back to her previous style, which incorporated wit AND substance.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Do you remember the Smythe-Smiths Musicales?, May 9, 2011
This review is from: Just Like Heaven (Mass Market Paperback)
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Any fan of Ms. Quinn's Bridgerton Series is well acquainted with the Smythe-Smith Musicales. It is an event best enjoyed by the tone deaf and/or hard of hearing. Honoria Smythe-Smith is the violinist for this year's musicale and she is, in one word, desperate: desperate to find a husband and avoid playing again next year. (Four unmarried Smythe-Smith daughters perform (wretchedly) each year.) She simply cannot understand how she has, so far, been unable to bring any gentleman up to scratch. It is time to take matters in hand. Honoria hatches a plot to snare a likely candidate. Dig a hole, blame the mole and assume a role (damsel in distress).

Marcus Holroyd is the Earl of Chatteris. Marcus is the long-time best friend of Daniel Smythe-Smith (now known as Lord Winstead). Daniel has run into a spot of trouble and has been forced to leave the country for a spell. Before he flees, Daniel makes Marcus swear to watch over Honoria (affectionately known as "bug") and insure that she doesn't marry "an idiot". Marcus isn't one for London or for greater society. Most of the ton believes Marcus to be aloof and haughty. Marcus is in fact quite shy. As a boy an uncaring father who saw no reason to remarry or produce additional offspring after Marcus' mother's untimely death left him alone. It is only when Marcus enters Eton and meets Daniel that he understands how very lonely he has been. Daniel takes him home to meet the Smythe-Smith brood, including his annoying little pest of a sister, and Marcus comes to regard them as his surrogate family. So, in Daniel's absence it is only natural for Marcus to watch over "bug" and insure that she comes to no harm. So far he has been very effective, four unworthy suitors have been frightened off, Honoria has come to no harm and he is next door, in residence, overseeing her latest matchmaking efforts. Now, what in the world is going on with that hole? She does know that moles make more than one hole?

I have read every novel or short story Julia Quinn has published. * At her best, Ms. Quinn elevates the romance genre. She is always witty but at the top of her game, she creates characters that are heartwarmingly touching and side-splittingly funny. In her best books (The Viscount Who Loved Me (Bridgerton Series, Bk. 2), When He Was Wicked (Bridgerton Family Series), and (to a lesser extent) Romancing Mister Bridgerton (Bridgerton Series, Book 4)) the high comedy covers an underlying sense of pathos. It is a talented author who can smoothly shift gears and take us from great sadness to chuckling delight. So, is "Just Like Heaven" one of those special books? No. Is it worth reading? Absolutely. It is witty, it is well written, it touches on the wonderful world created in the Bridgerton series and we are treated to another one of the infamous Smythe-Smith musicales. Where the book falls down is in the pathos. We simply aren't given the tools to feel Honoria's or Marcus pain. We are told that Marcus had a sad and lonely childhood. We are told that Honoria was a late-last baby but we don't suffer those trials with them and no amount of explaining will sufficiently inform us. This also feels like the first book in a new series. So, even though we catch a glimpse of an occasional Bridgerton, we are just getting to know many new characters that look very much like the protagonist of future novels. I think these sort of books tend to be a bit slower paced and serve as building blocks for later (presumably better) novels. That said, there is a generous helping of the wonderful Lady Danbury here and she is, as ever, in fine form!**

Recommended for Ms. Quinn's fans and for those looking for a decent beach read.

*I used to say that I had read everything a particular author had "ever written" which is, of course nonsense. I have not read Ms. Quinn's school papers, personal correspondence or raided her trash bins for discarded bits. Ms. Quinn's rubbish will be spared my inspection. (I cannot extend the same courtesy to Mary Balogh.)

**This book is really a 3.5 star read. I gave it an additional half star because Lady Danbury elevates any affair she deems worthy to attend.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Where have you gone Julia Quinn?, July 27, 2011
This review is from: Just Like Heaven (Mass Market Paperback)
I'm late to this party, but I just finished this book. Unfortunately, Julia Quinn has not been an automatic buy for me for quite some time now (her last five or six titles, at least), so I waited until I remembered to reserve a copy from my library to read this. While I did not actively dislike this book, I didn't particularly like it either. I found myself rather ambivalent about the whole thing. There's a certain sweetness to the story, but it's really very dull. The conflict is almost nonexistent, and there is no feeling of urgency ("what's going to happen next?") while reading. I can't believe this is the same author whose characters used to leap off the page and make me laugh out loud.

Marcus and Honoria are both likeable enough in a quiet fashion. They spend so much of the story being quiet and introspective that the sudden spurts of emotion seem to come out of nowhere. As others have mentioned, the love scene seemed almost as though it were tacked on as an afterthought. I must add that even though I don't judge a romance by its love scenes (I am perfectly happy if a book does not go into graphic detail), the scene between Marcus and Honoria was pretty flat and anemic. No matter how many times it was mentioned that these two people had known each other for 15 years, there didn't seem to be much emotion or feeling between them. Again, like many of the more recent Quinn titles, we have a story where there is a great deal of telling, rather than showing. Instead of portraying a relationship where the two characters actions show how well they know each other, we are reminded "after all, they had practically grown up together" multiple times. The entire middle of the book just seemed to meander without much of anything happening, and then suddenly both of the main characters go from "I've known you all my life" to singing a chorus of "I think I love you".

The smattering of Bridgerton and Lady Danbury sightings did not enhance the story at all. To me, they felt rather forced and heavy handed. They did not come across as the characters they were in the Bridgerton series - just print on a piece of paper. The banter between characters was rather bland as well. Judging by the critiques posted, I am obviously in the minority with my opinion. I'm glad others enjoyed it. I'm just disappointed that an author's work that I used to enjoy has deteriorated so much.

Afterthought: I did find the dedication to Quinn's husband at the front of the book quite funny.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre at best., June 1, 2011
This review is from: Just Like Heaven (Mass Market Paperback)
After the last three or four bad books Julia Quinn wrote I was not even sure I was going to read this one.
But of course, like so many other readers I could not resist the fact that it was about the Smythe-Smith whom I read about in the Bridgertons. That was the selling point. So I kept an open mind and read it in one sitting. It is not good. The only word I could think of when I was done was "silly". It really is sooo silly, it made me feel like it was written for a sixteen year old reading her first romance novel. The conversations between the cousins are suposed to be funny, but they are so forced, they are not even close to being funny.
The romance between Marcus and Honoria had potential, but there is such a gap between " I love you like a sibling and I'm in love with you" that the reader is left confused. The love scene...what love scene?? Is that what that was??
Overall it is not an improvement from her previous novels. It really feels like Quinn is tired of writing this genre. The characters may be Smythe-Smith or Bridgerton at this point her writing is not even lukewarm.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quintessential Quinn And Really Bad Music, May 5, 2011
By 
Arwen "AKA Arwen" (Austin, TX, United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Just Like Heaven (Mass Market Paperback)
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I confess. I love Julia Quinn's books. I find them genuinely charming. Her hero in this book is not an Alpha male. Marcus Holroyd is most definitely a Beta. A quiet, shy, unassuming Beta hero who is just doing what he was asked to do by his best friend. And that's to watch out for Honoria Smythe-Smith, the youngest sister of his best friend.

Marcus and Honoria have an easy relationship because they've been friends since she was six and he was twelve. An unfortunate event has driven her brother from the country.

The story is sweet. This isn't a mystery. No one gets kidnapped. No one gets saved. It's just your basic, well-crafted Regency novel. With Quinn's trademark humor and weaving in of old favorites like the Bridgertons and the irascible Lady Danbury, she takes us into the heart of that infamous musically-inept clan, the Smythe-Smiths.

If you have a hunger for something sweet like Marcus and Honoria do, then I believe you will enjoy this book. There were points that dragged for me. Their journey from friendship to lovers stumbled at the house party (no pun intended) but heated up over the sickbed (okay, maybe that was a pun there.)

What I loved most was Marcus's internal dialogue such as:

"Then you'll steal me a piece?" He gave her his best smile. His best "I-almost-died-so-how-can-you-deny-me" smile. Or at least that's how he hoped it appeared. The truth was, he wasn't a very accomplished flirt, and it might very well have come across as an "I-am-mildly-deranged-so-it's-in-all-of-our-best-interests-if-you-pretend-to-agree-with-me" smile.

He is self-depracating without being annoying. And the scenes where we were inside his head for his laudanum-laced fantasies? Hysterical. I laughed out loud more than once.

Don't read this book if you want a glowering, brooding Heathcliff hero. Do read this book if you want a socially awkward, but sincere Spiderman hero.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars What a disappointment!, June 1, 2011
By 
jmh "jmh" (San Francisco, CA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Just Like Heaven (Mass Market Paperback)
Let me start off by saying I have been a huge Julia Quinn fan for years and I had high hopes for this book. I read a lot of the reviews talking about "Julia returns to her old form" etc and thought, finally! Julia of old is back. But she is not. There is so much of this book that is just fluff, or setting the stage for the series. Honestly, a third of the book seems to be conversations between Honoria and her myriad of cousins. All of whom will undoubtedly end up with a book in this series. A pity more of their dialogue couldn't have been saved for their book and given more time to Honoria and Marcus in this one!
Honoria is a great character, she has some of the wit that we are accustomed to in Quinn's novels, but she is never really given an opportunity to develop. Marcus also has a lot of potential, but as he spends so much of the book *spoiler alert* unable to speak we never really understand him as more than a one dimensional character. There is zero chemistry between Honoria and Marcus and despite the fact that we are told numerous times that they love each other there seems little reason for that love. For three quarters of the book they aren't even talking to one another! As mentioned in other reviews the sex scene is tacked on at the end and is missing all of the magic and witty sexiness of her other books. In fact the only time when Marcus even begins to act like a traditional Quinn hero is in an interaction with Colin Bridgerton! But throw all the Bridgertons you want at this book (and she does, plus some other cameos) this book lacks sizzle and frankly, a plot worth waiting for.
I'm guessing we are in for a Daniel/Miss Wynter romance next. Which I'll give a go as Daniel appeared to have a bit of back bone, but at $7.99 a pop on my kindle I will definitely be thinking twice before I order a Quinn novel in the future. With the exception of the Two Dukes of Wyndham series, her recent books have me beginning to question my love of all things Quinn.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 4 1/2 stars - Julia Quinn is back on track!, May 5, 2011
This review is from: Just Like Heaven (Mass Market Paperback)
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Having read every single Julia Quinn book to date, I had lately been disappointed with Quinn. Her last two books just didn't hold the same appeal as her previous ones, and once I had read them, I never cared to read them again. When I saw that she was starting a new series, I was thrilled but worried. Would this new series be worth my time?

YES! Those of you who have read the Bridgerton series are familiar with the infamous Smythe-Smiths musical. Their form of musical torture has been well attended by all nobility for years. Honoria Smthe-Smiths plays the violen. She is well aware that the group is terrible, but she looks at it as a family tradition to be upheld. Her family consists of a large group of cousins that all play instruments as well. The hero is Honoria's brother's best friend. Marcus has been charged with watching over Honoria while her brother is out of the country. He has successfuly scared away fortune hunters and unworthy men, all while Honoria was unaware. Honoria has always looked at Marcus as a friend, and they have been comfortable to talk about anything in an informal way. They practically grew up together, because Marcus has no real family and was always hanging around the family during holidays. Their happy, comfortable conversation because a little akward when they both realize they are in love.

This is a nice light hearted romance that brings a smile to the face. Because we somewhat know the characters, it was easier to care for them. We even get to revisit some of our favorite old characters and scenes from a different perspective. I will admit that there were some slow parts to this story. I thought that she spent a bit too much time with just the cousins. Their conversation was amusing, but too much of a good thing slowed down the pace. The somewhat slow pace at times caused the four star review;although, I really wish I could give half star ratings. If you like a real angsty novel, this isn't it. There is conflict, but the characters aren't drowning in despair over if the hero/heroine loves him/her. If I had to compare this novel's feel to one of the popular Bridgerton novels, I would say that it feel like It's in His Kiss, nice but somewhat light.

All in all, I am once again excited for an upcoming Julia Quinn novel. There are lots of possiblities for a strong series, and I look forward to Quinn's next installment.
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Just Like Heaven
Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn (Mass Market Paperback - May 31, 2011)
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