Okay, so I've been trying to write this review for almost two weeks, but somehow the worlds wouldn't come out or adhere to format, so I decided I'm just going to do another Free-Form review.
The Sum of All Kisses
start the week before Marcus and Honoria's wedding (from Just Like Heaven)
, where the whole Smythe-Smith Clan is gathered at Marcus' home in Cambridgeshire. Sarah, Honoria's best friend and one of her plentiful cousins is the designated maid of honor and she gets the dubious honor of keeping Hugh Prentice company during his stay.
Which wouldn't be a problem, except that Sarah hates Hugh and blames him, among other things, for getting Honoria's brother Daniel exiled for three years, causing a huge scandal and ruining her own life. Hugh has never understood what her problem was, and the few interactions they have had during the last three years have been awkward, uncomfortable and hostile.
But now they have to spend the week together, at Honoria's and Daniel's request, who are trying to show everyone that Hugh and Daniel
have put the past behind them, even though neither Sarah nor Hugh is happy about it.
Still, they spend the required time together and get to know each other a little better, particularly after Hugh shows Sarah a little kindness after a thoughtless remark from her cousin Iris sends her mind spinning and finally makes her question her motivations in life.
Seeing Sarah with her family, particularly with her sisters, shows Hugh that her over-dramatic manner is just how she is with her large, loving group of siblings. Yes she is given to grandiose statements, and tact isn't her strongest suit, but she loves her sisters and her cousins and is actually pretty smart and funny. And the more he likes Sarah, the more aware Hugh is of his own limitations: his limp and ruined leg, which often make him feel like less of a man.
The story follows them along as they go from Honoria's wedding to Daniel's, and how they have a little unorthodox courtship but fall in love none the less. And, for the most part, I liked this story, it was sweet and fluffy and the dialogue was amazing. I loved Frances - Sarah's youngest sister and the awesomest character of the book, honestly, who is unicorn obsessed - and her interactions with Hugh were really sweet.
I was so rooting for this book and loving every second of it, and, deep down, I still think it was quite excellent... but then we get to the last quarter of the book... for which I'm entering spoiler territory, I'll try to keep it light, but never the less, high light if you wish to see.
Okay, so in the last part of the book, Hugh is going to ask Sarah to marry him and then Daniel finds out and MAKES SUCH AN UNHOLY FUSS AND COMPLICATES EVERYTHING, and without a really valid, makes-sense reason. Hugh did something pretty extreme to get his father - who was the one who was pissed off about Daniel shooting Hugh, while Hugh understood he kind of brought it into himself - to stop trying to kill Daniel so he could finally come home. And Daniel is adamant that Hugh tells Sarah, for which I didn't see much of the point, it made me dislike Daniel and he wasn't my favorite character to begin with.
Then we get to the villain: Hugh's father. He's so mean and evil that he seems almost out of place in a Julia Quinn novel! The things he does are despicable and dark, and when is revealed what he did to Hugh's brother Freddie? Well, I felt like I was reading a book by whole other author, someone who likes torturing her characters, not Julia Quinn.
Other than that, the dialogue and the rest of the story are fun. I even grew to like Sarah and I didn't think I would because she was a bit of a whinny brat in the previous two books. But, sadly, a book that could have been love, ended up in mere like.
"Sarah doesn't believe in unicorns either." Frances said. "None of my sisters do." She gave a sad sigh. "Im quite alone in my hopes and dreams."
Hugh watched Sarah roll her eyes, then said, "I have a feeling, Lady Frances, that the only thing you are alone in is being showered with the love and devotion of your family."
"Oh, I'm not alone in that," Frances said brightly, "although, as the youngest I do enjoy certain benefits."
Sarah made a snorting sound.
"It's true, then?"
"She would be quite dreadful if she weren't so innately marvelous," Sarah said, smiling at her sister with obvious affection. "My father spoils her abominably."
"He does," Frances said happily.