Long time readers of Julia Quinn's romances know that the annual Smythe-Smith musicales (where gently bred young ladies of the Smythe-Smith family play classical music, usually dreadfully) feature in a lot of the books, usually sources of many witty discourses and much suffering from the brave attendees.
"Just Like Heaven" is the first of Quinn's "Smythe-Smith" series, and Lady Honoria Smythe-Smith is the heroine. She plays the violin very badly during the musicale, with several of her unmarried cousins (once a girl gets married, she is replaced by another single cousin, which probably acts as yet another incentive for the young ladies to catch a husband as soon as possible.) Honoria is the youngest in her family by quite some years, her older sisters are all married, and her beloved older brother was forced to flee abroad after a scandalous duel, and is unlikely to return any time soon. She's in her second season, and starting to get a bit desperate. She is determined to find a suitable husband by the end of the season, lest she be forced to take care of her mother as a spinster companion for the rest of her days.
Honoria doesn't realize that one of the reasons she has yet to be offered any proposals, is that Marcus Holroyd, the Earl of Chatteris and her brother Daniel's best friend, has been scaring away any men he deems unsuitable (so far, all of them). Before Daniel had to flee the country, Marcus promised to watch over Honoria and take care of her, but he's been very good about hiding the fact from her. However, when one of her schemes for landing herself a husband back-fires, and Marcus gets injured, and later sustains a very dangerous infection, Honoria and her mother travel to his estate to nurse him back to health, and the two suddenly spend a lot more time in each other's company.
Julia Quinn has written a number of wonderful romances that I adore, several that are very enjoyable and diverting, but don't make me sigh with pleasure, and only one so far that I've found actively dreadful (Miranda Cheever, I'm looking at you). Just Like Heaven was a fast, entertaining and very sweet reading experience, but it's not one of the ones I'm going to keep picking up and rereading every so often, just because I love every aspect of it. While it was fun to see behind the scenes, so to speak, at the Smythe-Smith musicale rehearsals, the bits where Honoria interacts with her musically challenged cousins were a lot less fun than her banter and developing romance with Marcus. A fun read, but nothing mind-blowing.