Review: Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Pub Date: May 2011
Publisher: Avon (Harper Collins)
Length: 374 pages
FTC: Purchased myself

I haven't really loved a Julia Quinn book since somewhere in the middle of the Bridgerton series.  I detested Eloise, Francesca, and Gregory's stories, and was apathetic about most of those novels that came after the series' end. At best, they were fun but forgettable.

Then came Ten Things I Love About You. It is what I consider a turning point for Julia Quinn's writing. Where she gave up any pretense of writing with depth and just churned out cutesy, polished writing with superficial characters and superficial emotion. Deciding to give her one last try, I picked up Just Like Heaven after letting it linger in the TBR for a year. The lingering was on purpose, because I suspected I would be disappointed. Sadly, I was correct.

Julia Quinn helped define the light historical trend that has taken over the Regency-set historical romance genre. But she used to write with both wit and heart. The Viscount Who Loved Me is one of the most moving romances I've ever read. It's memorable, romantic, funny, and filled to the brim with emotions of all kinds. Just Like Heaven is none of that. It's hollow and flat, with a chuckle or two, but no real spark or life between the covers.

It is also extremely boring.

Yes. I said it. I was bored. I skimmed. And I rarely ever skim. Page after page of musicale preparations. Page after page of inane conversation. Blah, blah, blah.

This book was also not helped by a strange pace. First, we are subjected to page after page of bickering cousins. Then we are off to the country on a mission that involves some gruesome medical procedure. Then we are back in London with more blah, blah, blah.

The characterization isn't very even either. In particular, Honoria's mother. She's a cipher through the first part of the book, only to burst into full awareness when crisis threatens midway through the story.

I probably sound a bit angry, but it's really grief. I'm mourning my reading relationship with one of my favorite authors because I just can't take this new style that seems to work for her, but definitely doesn't work for me. In fact, you can look at the (cutesy) blurb below and get a good idea regarding the depth contained within.

My Grade: D*
*Ten Things has a higher grade because I don't revise grades once set. But if I were reading and grading it today, it would likely rate as a D, too.

The Blurb:

Honoria Smythe-Smith is:
A) a really bad violinist
B) still miffed at being nicknamed "Bug" as a child
C) not in love with her older brother's best friend
D) all of the above

Marcus Holroyd is:
A) the Earl of Chatteris
B) regrettably prone to sprained ankles
C) not in love with his best friend's younger sister
D) all of the above

Together they:
A) eat quite a bit of chocolate cake
B) survive a deadly fever and the world's worst musical performance
C) fall quite desperately in love

It's Julia Quinn at her best, so you know the answer is ...
D) all of the above


  1. Boring - absolutely. And totally not memorable beyond the pretty cover...The second Smythe-Smith book is better, but not amazingly so. I miss the Bridgerton books. :(

    1. I need to reread the early ones to see if they still hold up or if I've idealized them. I don't think my memory is faulting me. JQ's style has changed, and I'm sad about it.