Review: The Sum of All Kisses by Julia Quinn

Sunday, October 27, 2013
Title: The Sum of All Kisses
Author: Julia Quinn
Genre: romance novelish
Series: The Smythe-Smith Quartet
Pages: 400
Published: expected October 29 2013
Source: publishers via edelweiss
Rating: 3.75/5

Hugh Prentice has never had patience for dramatic females, and if Lady Sarah Pleinsworth has ever been acquainted with the words shy or retiring, she's long since tossed them out the window. Besides, a reckless duel has left this brilliant mathematician with a ruined leg, and now he could never court a woman like Sarah, much less dream of marrying her.

Sarah has never forgiven Hugh for the duel he fought that nearly destroyed her family. But even if she could find a way to forgive him, it wouldn't matter. She doesn't care that his leg is less than perfect, it's his personality she can't abide. But forced to spend a week in close company they discover that first impressions are not always reliable. And when one kiss leads to two, three, and four, the mathematician may lose count, and the lady may, for the first time, find herself speechless ...

New York Times bestselling author Julia Quinn's enchanting third novel in the Smythe-Smith quartet is guaranteed to make you laugh out loud and tug at your heartstrings in equal measures.

I don't read a lot of romance, but when I do, I go straight for a Julia Quinn novel. Preferably a Smythe-Smith novel. This light-hearted series about a sprawling clan of cousins and siblings is constantly charming, frequently funny, and always chock full of entertaining, flawed characters. A diverting read that somehow manages to make an expected end a delightfully amusing one instead, The Sum of All Kisses is a great addition to the Smythe-Smith tradition of romance. 

The way romance stories unfold usually progress along expected lines, and this is no different. And while Quinn is guilty of a tad of using certain formulas, her characters really make up for any lack. I have read my fair share of hate-to-love romances, this one was a genuine pleasure to read. Ostensibly, Sarah and Hugh are far from a perfect match, but they have chemistry and spark to burn. They are both compatible and utterly contemptible of one another at the outset, so watching their relationship evolve and mature in meaning was thoroughly rewarding.

Certain known members of Sarah's family appear -- both sets of the principles in the previous novels (Honoria and Marcus from Just Like Heaven; Daniel and Anne from A Night Like This) are present in the novel. Also returning are the comedic trio of Harriet, Elizabeth, and Frances. Like before with Daniel and Anne, these girls almost stole the show from dramatic Sarah and taciturn Hugh. All the characters are witty and or charming -- and while some if does feel a bit rehearsed, the characters and their interactions ring with authenticity.

I am not without some big concerns which left me unable to rate this higher, no matter how awesome 95% of it was. So, SPOILERS!

I do have some issues with the way Sarah saves Marcus from his "unholy" agreement with his devil father, the Marquess of Ramsgate. Sure, she and Hugh had wanted to be married before the deal, but leaving her little actual choice in the matter of her own marriage was somewhat distasteful for me to read. I understand she negotiated it to terms she was, overall, comfortable with, but still. I thought that was in poor taste.

For all that I had issue with that aspect of the plot, the rest of the novel was pretty much as expected. It was still charming and fun, and a bit sexy for all that. The third in the series, with at least one more novel on the way, The Sum of All Kisses was a fun new addition. It's a fairly standard Quinn novel, but that doesn't mean it's not a great way to spend a lazy afternoon.

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