Top critical review
3 people found this helpful
The Sum of all Kisses was a nice book and the Prologue captured my interest and made ...
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.