Thoughts After Reading:
I’ve never had an “auto-buy” list. Even if I like an author, I like to research what the individual story is about - there are plenty of plots that simply do not appeal to me. Often times I’ll pick and choose books even within a series. The one time this rule does not hold true is with Julia Quinn. I’ve read every book she’s written, and will probably continue to do so for the rest of her writing career. Regardless of the storyline, I know it will be a book worth my time.
In many ways, The Sum of All Kisses is classic Quinn. From the first page onward, there is an abundance of wordplay – wit, irony, sarcasm, it’s all there. Clever dialogue is one of my favorite characteristics of a book, and Quinn certainly knows how to put it to good use. She never misses an opportunity to reference the Smythe-Smith “talents,” with predictably humorous results. The plot is spaced out nicely, with most of the relationship tension being resolved after the major conflict – in my opinion, the right way to do it. The overall plot is quite interesting, as well. The reader gets a unique look at “the duel” from Hugh’s perspective - why it happened and the aftereffects from his side. As a result of the duel, the heroine - Sarah Pleinsworth – has developed a hatred of Hugh… and Hugh has never particularly liked her back. The plot consists of these two getting to know each other over the course of a couple weddings, and finding out there’s a lot more to like about the other than they had realized.
Although there were many good things about the novel, there are two major complaints I had. The first is the characters. Because this is essentially an enemies-to-lovers theme, the characters do not come off immediately as appealing. In fact, Quinn seems to do too good of a job at making the characters unlikable. The hero thinks the heroine is a bit shrewish and prone to dramatics because she really is a bit shrewish and prone to the dramatics. The heroine thinks the hero is somewhat standoffish and made a very horrible decision because he is, and he did. To be fair, the characters are eventually made rounded and given appropriate development. But a good 20% of the novel has to be waded through before the progression can even begin. I was also disappointed with the conflict. The story was moving along without any problems, and Quinn tends to be consistent. So – like clockwork – a conflict pops up at the 70% mark. Unfortunately, it was not a very believable issue. It truly felt like the issue was suddenly thrown in there just to have a roadblock. Following this is a kidnapping scene employed straight out the pages of a Minerva Press novel, and an unsatisfactory resolution is given to an unsatisfactory conflict.
I enjoyed Julia Quinn’s latest work, as I always do. The clever quips and comedic dialogue found in The Sum of All Kisses kept me smiling throughout. Most parts of the story were written excellently, and I applaud Quinn yet again for carefully handling the romantic development. There were some issues I had with the story, and I don’t think this was one of Quinn’s best efforts. But overall, a more-than-decent read.
*I received a free review copy of this novel.