Published by HarperCollins on 2013-10-29
Reviewed by Shayna
He thinks she's an annoying know-it-all Hugh Prentice has never had patience for dramatic females, and if Lady Sarah Pleinsworth has ever been acquainted with the words shy or retiring, she's long since tossed them out the window. Besides, even if Hugh did grow to enjoy her company, it wouldn't matter. A reckless duel has left this brilliant mathematician with a ruined leg, and now, unable to run, ride, or even waltz, he could never court a woman like Sarah, much less dream of marrying her.She thinks he's just plain mad Sarah has never forgiven Hugh for the duel he fought three years earlier, the one that forced her cousin into exile, nearly destroying her family. But even if she could find a way to forgive him, it wouldn't matter. She doesn't care that his leg is less than perfect, it's his personality she can't abide. But when the pair is forced to spend a week in close company, they discover that first impressions are not always reliable. And when one kiss leads to two, three, and four, the mathematician may lose count, and the lady may, for the first time, find herself speechless.
Hugh Prentice has no patience for theatrics, which should be enough to turn him off of Lady Sarah Pleinsworth. If it weren’t, the fact that she declares she hates him and that he ruined her life would do it. After all, it’s Hugh’s own life he ruined – and the life of Sarah’s cousin Daniel Smythe-Smith – thanks to a reckless accusation followed by a duel that ruined Hugh’s leg and forced Daniel to flee the country. Now that Hugh’s done his best to make things right with Daniel, he’s found himself a guest at not one, but two Smythe-Smith weddings. That alone wouldn’t be a problem, but the weddings have thrown Hugh together with Sarah. The more time the two spend around one another, the closer they become, to the surprise of both. Fate seems to have a cruel sense of humor, for the one woman Hugh shouldn’t want is fast becoming the one to capture his heart.
A brilliant mathematician, an outspoken heroine, and Julia Quinn’s trademark humor all come together to create a charming read. Despite their initial wariness (on his part) and dislike (on hers), Sarah and Hugh are a great match and their chemistry keeps The Sum of All Kisses afloat, even through the surprisingly slow-paced first half of the story. I’m a bit conflicted about The Sum of All Kisses, for as much as I liked it (and I did), the slowness of the first half of the book and the confrontation with the villain at the story’s climax left me strangely hollow. Some of Ms. Quinn’s usual magic is missing from this book. That being said, once Sarah and Hugh begin to fall in love, The Sum of All Kisses takes off and readers are treated to the sigh-worthy romance Ms. Quinn is famous for.
The Sum of All Kisses is the third book in the Smythe-Smith quartet, but it can easily be read as a standalone. Honoria and Daniel (of Just Like Heaven and A Night Like This) do play strong supporting roles, and it was lovely to see both of their weddings. Speaking of family, Sarah’s sisters definitely threaten to steal the show in The Sum of All Kisses. Ms. Quinn had me laughing out loud at the younger Pleinsworths’ antics, and though this series is supposed to be a quartet, I do hope we get to revisit Harriet, Elizabeth, and especially Frances when they’re older. Whether or not they do, I’m eager to see where Ms. Quinn takes the Smythe-Smith family next.
Note: If you also happen to be a fan of Eloisa James, you’ll be happy to learn that Once Upon a Tower heroine Edith gets a nod in The Sum of All Kisses.