Literary, etc is an eclectic blog where we talk & review books, films, & whatever strikes our mood.
Whenever I have a bad day, Julia Quinn is an author I turn to. I devoured her Bridgerton series and I’ve made no secret that Mr. Cavendish, I Presume is my favorite. When the opportunity came to participate in the blog tour for The Sum of All Kisses, I couldn’t pass up the chance.The Sum of All Kisses is the third in the Symthe-Smith Quartet series. If you haven’t read the first two books, Just like Heaven and A Night Like This, you can delve right in; however, Quinn does mention a few things that occur in previous books , but nothing I would consider a spoiler
As for character development, it’s strong. We spend an equal amount of time with Sarah Pleinsworth and Hugh Prentice and get to know each of them well. At first, Sarah is difficult to warm up to because she made the assumption of Hugh’s character without fully knowing the facts regarding the duel. It’s understandable that she was kept in the dark and the only information she had came from gossips, but she’s an intelligent woman and I would have liked her to have attempted her own inquiry. Alas, it took me a while to like her, but I admire her because once her faults are pointed out she makes an effort to change and realizes her mistakes. As for Hugh, he’s very much a beta hero, but tortured. It’s difficult to write a beta hero without him coming off as a wimp, but Quinn does a great job with Hugh. Hugh struggles with the repercussions of his decision to fight a duel and has to deal with his father. His father, the Marquess of Ramsgate is a piece of work and your heart will ache for Hugh. I adored Hugh especially when you get to know him. He’s the first to admit that he won’t dance again or be there to help a woman when she swoons, but most importantly, he realizes what the duel cost him. Several secondary characters make an appearance and play a vital role including Sarah’s sisters which you’ll love. I really liked Hugh’s brother, Freddie and I wish we had more scenes with him.
The Sum of All Kisses is written in typical Quinn style. It’s light, funny, and just an overall feel good novel. If you’re looking for an angst type of romance you won’t find it here. We have witty banter between the characters and though the plot is a bit slow, it’s still a delightful read. This isn’t one of those quick fall in love romances, but rather one where the characters take the time to get to know each other. I do have a few problems with the execution of the plot. Mostly, it has to do with the conflict; there are two sources here: Sarah and Hugh’s dislike and the secret Daniel knows about Hugh. When we’re told the secret, it’s made out to be a dire one and yet in the end, it wasn’t. Also, the ending was a bit too tidy and it felt unnatural especially with regards to what Sarah does. I won’t go into detail because I don’t want to give spoilers, but it just felt rushed. Furthermore, the Symthe-Smith musicals are legendary in Quinn’s novels and I was a bit surprised at Hugh’s reaction when he hears about the family tradition. I was left scratching my head wondering which rock he’s been hiding under (or maybe that’s good a thing!).
I debated with the rating between a three and four and decided on four because of the Pleinsworth sisters. Frances stole the show (there’s no doubt about that), but I adored the interaction between them. While reading, I couldn’t help but compare The Sum of All Kisses to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. The bickering and dislike Hugh and Sarah feel toward one other may remind readers of Lizzie and Darcy while the closeness of the Pleinsworth sisters and their antics are similar to that of the March sisters. Hugh reminded me very much of Laurie and Sarah a bit like Jo, but unlike the ending to Little Women, no one dies and of course Hugh and Sarah wind up together. Ultimately, what Ireally enjoyed about The Sum of All Kisses are the feelings Quinn evokes.
Fans of historical romance will have a great time spending the day with Julia Quinn’s The Sum of All Kisses. Quinn always makes me wish I could live among her characters and The Sum of All Kisses doesn’t disappoint.