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4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
The Sum of All Kisses: Number 3 in series (Smythe-Smith Quartet)
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on 29 October 2014
The Sum of all Kisses was a nice book and the Prologue captured my interest and made me want to keep reading. It was well written and completely drew me into the 1800’s. Sadly I couldn’t stay there and very quickly felt the book fell into the trap so many modern authors do of mixing their life and times.

Ms Quinn should certainly keep on writing. Her books are light and funny but don’t ever imagine you will feel totally transported back into the 1800’s in this one. If that doesn’t matter to you, you will enjoy yourself. If, however, you are looking for the gentility and manners of the 1800’s you will be disappointed as the speech patterns, gentlemen’s behaviour and women’s responses are, for the most part, very 21st century.

In the first few chapters Sarah ‘gasped’ at almost every sentence (very annoying – glad it stopped). I felt if she was as feisty as we were later to believe she would have seen the funny side of the banter and simply smiled and only gasped perhaps once when someone had appeared to be very rude. She actually came across as being sheltered a bit wet behind the ears. I didn’t feel her grow too much. Although she did come to understand how Hugh must feel I never really got inside her or Hugh. I actually felt Hugh deserved someone with a quiet strength rather than someone quite so shallow and flighty.

There was a lot of banter but you never really felt you knew what the characters were thinking. Perhaps my favourite author has spoiled me (no it’s not Austen).

Men, in those days, may love their wives and daughters but they were definitely the head of the house and if we are to believe Hugh’s father was the cruel and heartless person he was depicted as, he may have been amused by Sarah at first but he would never have put up with her behaviour for more than a few minutes no matter who else was present to stop him. I imagine he would have risen to her challenge and quite literally flattened her. Once again, it was a scene which would be very believable and funny in the 21st century but for me didn’t work for the 1800’s.

I enjoyed Ms Quinn's Bridgerton books and not being a big fan of explicit sex scenes felt that subject was handled relatively well most of the time.

It appears that a romance, even of the historical kind, cannot exist these days without the deflowering of the heroine and the way it came about in this book was very contrived and unbelievable. I don’t know if it is the readers or publishers who insist on a bedroom scene but there always seems to be one if not several. This book would have worked very well without one.

However, in this regard I don’t believe a lady born in the 1820’s would have done what Sarah did at the end of the book. But then I don’t believe Hugh would have touched her either, even if the door was locked. Consider Darcy and Elizabeth. If Lizzy had done what Sarah did don’t you think Darcy would have kicked her right back out the door out of respect for her - especially if he loved her. He would have been shocked and perhaps disappointed in her boldness. In fact, she would have been no better than the air headed Lydia and we know she had more respect for herself than that.

However, a man and woman of the 21st century may quite easily have acted this way. If you disagree then we will have to agree to disagree and perhaps you should read more Austen or Georgette Heyer, two of the most popular romance writers who lived either in or closer to those chaste times and should know what they were writing about. Their characters hardly touched a bare hand.

Yes, I know what you are thinking. Not everyone, even back then, waited for marriage but most did. Women were too scared of the unknown and they rarely knew what happened in the bedroom. Owning cats and dogs and horses and sheep didn’t fill the gap in the education because a lady wouldn’t usually have been involved in that side of things but ran the household. They most likely were horrified if they did know and thought they might have to do something similar.

You only need to read Ms Quinn’s excellent ‘The Duke and I’ where she got it absolutely right. The heroine was completely in the dark, much to the fond amusement of her husband who thought her mother might have at least have given her some idea of what to expect.

If you like this book, you will love the Bridgerton series and see how far short this one falls. I encourage you to read those if you haven't already; all eight of them.
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on 4 July 2017
We met Hugh Prentice in the previous books of this series, and I am pleased that he now gets his own book, and of course his own member of the infamous musical quartet. Sarah dodged the Musicale in the previous book, but she can't dodge this.
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on 19 April 2017
such a fan, to a great series
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on 9 June 2017
I've read this so many times since. A book truly on point for JQ.
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on 28 July 2016
Sweet. Unique. Original dialogues. Dreamy fun summer read.
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on 31 October 2013
Julia Quinn does it again, another great story, with much loved characters and laughs aplenty. I can't wait for the next instalment.
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on 1 March 2015
Another lovely story from a favourite author.
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on 29 October 2013
I really enjoyed this book! I got it this morning and I didn't stop reading until I had finished it. I found it a refreshing and fast paced book.

The story was well framed and led on from the other books in the series. If you haven't read the other books I wouldn't recommend reading this until you have! I don't think you would get the full depth of the book unless you have read the previous books in this series. The characters were both well written and I enjoyed the banter and conflict between the two characters. The dialogue really sparkled with wit and I look forward to their sparring. Additionally, the secondary characters were all well rounded, I especially loved the arguments and interactions between the Pleinsworth sisters (it reminded me of the arguments I had with my siblings in the back of the car on long journeys).

I thought the book was well paced and I really liked the use of the flashbacks and normally this can get a bit stale but I like that fact it was written from her perspective and then his.

I really loved this book and I would recommend this book to everyone I'm only sad that I finished it so soon. Hopefully another book in this series will be coming out soon!
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on 5 January 2014
I must say I'm outgrowing historical romances, no matter how much I adore the author. This book was not bad at all, it was actually quite entertaining and enjoyable to read.

It was fast-paced, so it moved quickly enough that I could easily read it in a day's time. Julia Quinn has a knack for creating drama and suspense without dragging it out leaving you to enjoy the events of the story line.

Sarah and Hugh are both interesting characters. I admit, I found Sarah a tad annoying at the beginning, especially during her first interaction/stand-off/confrontation with Hugh where she, in my opinion, made a complete fool of herself. More so later on when she continued to blame him for her single status, I found that more than ridiculous and quite immature. So it took a while for her character to grow on me. Hugh on the other hand I've been a fan off from previous books, and I've been waiting to read his story.

He did not disappoint. He had the sarcasm, humor, chivalry and the right dose of melodrama to make him a very endearing hero. His interactions with Sarah's cousins and sisters were very entertaining and reminded me quite a bit of my fiance when he is stuck with my sisters (all four of them) and how he must feel when they all start bickering and talking over one another. Hugh handled himself quite well, and just as I'm sure Sarah felt, it only made him more endearing to us all.

I'm glad things progressed quickly enough with them both, although it did take about 3/4 of the book for them to even have their first kiss. I didn't find that off-putting however, because I thought their conversations and the time they spent together was more important than when they actually start kissing and fighting to keep their hands off of each other. I prefer to see dialogue and real interaction between people than have the pages of my book filled with sex scenes.

All in all, a good read. Not my favourite. Not the best. But also not the worst.
I think generally speaking, it would take a lot for me to get back onto the historical romance bandwagon. I mostly read these books out of habit, but I seem to have lost whatever it is that used to make me get lost in the story and the romance and the period it's set in.
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on 22 November 2013
The third in the Smythe-Smith series, this book focuses on the romantic adventures of Lady Sarah Pleinsworth. Attending the weddings of her two cousins in short succession, Sarah finds herself wondering if she will ever be walking down the aisle herself; her determination to escape from playing in the annual Smythe-Smith musicales as great a motivation for marriage as any. One man whom she wouldn't dream of walking down the aisle with, however, is Lord Hugh Prentice; the man who was responsible for her cousin Daniel having to flee the country after the two became embroiled in an infamous duel. Yet whilst Sarah thought she would never be able to forgive him, let alone ever come to like him; being forced into closer proximity with him can but cause her to view him in a rather different light.

Anyone familiar with Julia Quinn will know her trademark sense of dry humour and wit, her larger than life characters and the spirit of romance that fills her novels, to which The Sum of All Kisses is no exception. Whilst being the third in the Smythe-Smith series, the story does not necessarily require a familiarity with the earlier two books (I, myself have not read the second of the series); though characters from the two earlier books do feature.

Sarah makes for a typically feisty Quinn heroine; perhaps a little quick to judge and sharp-tongued, but with a heart of gold underneath and real steel. Hugh is probably one of the more complex of Quinn's heroes, with a troubled and chequered past; he's made mistakes but paid a high price for them, however, he still hasn't been able to forgive himself. His physical disability lends him further vulnerability, and the psychological effects of this were explored well. The interactions between them both and their evolving relationship was engaging, with good chemistry and sparkling banter between the pair. My favourite scene was probably the rather unique waltz the two of them shared.

Though a fun and pleasant read, I do however think the book lacks the magic of some of Quinn's earlier works, particularly the Bridgerton series. The pacing is also rather uneven; hardly anything happening for large chapters, then a sudden change in gear towards the end. I have to say I thought the latter third of the book was rather overly dramatic and theatrical; nor am I sure that such an evil villain was really needed to be brought in to the story merely to create obstacles for the pair, as surely there were enough inner demons for Hugh to need to battle and come to terms with.
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