Hugh Prentice has a head for numbers and his claim to fame among the ton is that he’s never lost a game of cards. Ever. So when he realizes that Daniel Smythe-Smith has beaten him in a game of chance after a drunken night out he immediately calls for satisfaction. Their duel leaves him with a ruined leg and Daniel on the run from Hugh’s father. It takes him several years, but he finally manages to strike a devil’s bargain with his father so that Daniel can finally come home. Now that they’ve patched up their differences they must convince the ton of their renewed friendship and what better way to do that than for Hugh to attend the weddings of both Daniel and his sister? Unfortunately for Hugh, he’s been paired with Daniel’s annoying, overly dramatic cousin.
Sarah absolutely and completely hates Hugh Prentice. It doesn’t matter that her cousin has forgiven him for the duel that cost him several years of his life, she can never forgive him for what he did to her family. Their first meeting ended in a rather frustrating confrontation that still makes her angry when she thinks about it. But when her cousin and best friend, who also happens to be the bride in one of the upcoming weddings, asks her to keep Hugh company during the festivities so he won’t be lonely the only thing she can say is yes.
Even if their first meeting hadn’t been a mind-numbingly mad disaster, they would never have been friends. Sarah Pleinsworth was one of those dramatic females given to hyperbole and grand announcements. Hugh did not normally study the speech patterns of others, but when Lady Sarah spoke it was difficult to ignore her.
She used far too many adverbs. And exclamation points.
This is one of those stories where when I started I just could not see how in the world the author would make any sort of HEA for these characters believable. From the beginning when they weren’t verbally attacking each other there was a standoffish-ness and coldness that permeated their conversations. Hugh and Sarah have such completely different personalities that not only do they not like each other, but they really don’t understand each other either. Sarah is bold and outgoing, while Hugh has a more dry wit and has stayed out of the public eye due to his injury. As they are forced to spend time together there is this understanding between them that starts to slowly develop. With that understanding comes an awareness of each other as more than enemies. The progression of their relationship was so skillfully done that it was almost a surprise to me when I looked up and realized I was 60% in and everything between this couple had changed. It was a breath of fresh air to read a romance where the couple falls in love realistically, with all the ups and downs that a relationship usually has.
Hugh’s disability plays a huge part in how he feels about himself and relates to everyone around him, including Sarah. He may act like he’s okay since the duel and admits that he is at fault for his injury, but when he starts to fall for Sarah feelings of inadequacy develop and he starts to doubt himself. I loved Hugh. He’s so clever and funny, not the typical romance alpha male, but a wonderful hero all the same. Everything about his character appealed to me, from the self-deprecating humor to his affinity for numbers. I especially loved it when at the end it’s obvious that he’s been keeping count how many times he’s told his Lady ‘I love you’. How romantic.
Julia Quinn is one of the few writers of historical romance where I pretty much enjoy everything she writes. They are like comfort reads for me. I know there won’t be a huge complicated plot line or any great mystery to solve, but the snappy dialogue and engaging characters always keep me interested all the way through. There is this easiness about her love stories that has kept me coming back for more through the years. The Sum of All Kisses was another romantic read that is sure to charm historical romance fans. Final Grade- B-
Softly, he kissed her lips. Then her nose, then each of her eyes in turn. It was bursting out of him that he was falling in love with her, but he had never been a man to speak of his feelings, and the words choked in his throat. So he kissed her one last time, truly and deeply, hoping she recognized it for what it was, an offering of his very soul.
Yours, he thought. I am yours.