The Sum of All Kisses by Julia Quinn

Goodreads Summary: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, a reckless duel has left this brilliant mathematician with a ruined leg, and now 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 that nearly destroyed 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 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…

I love Julia Quinn. Her books always, without out fail, make me laugh out loud even if I’m out somewhere public causing everyone to stare at me like I’m a lunatic. She uses the perfect mix of humor and sappy that I really can’t get enough of. I love the relationships between her characters. They banter and they fight and they love each other. It’s perfect. It never seems unrealistic. Sisters act exactly as my sisters and I act. Friends act just like Amanda and I are together. I always want to be best friends with the heroine and the hero always makes me swoon (well, he would if I knew how to swoon). I’ve read every one of her books and always await the next with as much patience as I can manage when books are involved. Her newest book (my Christmas present from Amanda) did not disappoint me.
I’ll begin by explaining the duel which is also explained in the other two books of the series. Approximately three years before the events of this book, Hugh, Sarah’s cousin Daniel, and a couple of their friends were drunkenly playing cards. Hugh accused Daniel of cheating, they argued, and Hugh challenged him to a duel. Still slightly drunk at dawn they meet and are still determined to go through with it. Neither actually wanted to shoot the other and were fully expected to just shoot past the others shoulder and be done with it. Except Hugh accidentally shoots Daniel in the shoulder. And Daniel accidentally shoots him in the legging, hitting an artery and almost killing him. Daniel’s forced to leave the country by Hugh’s father threatening to kill him until Hugh manages to convince his father to back off. Because of this, Sarah hates Hugh for causing her family so much pain.
I’ll start with Lady Sarah Pleinsworth. She knows how to act like a lady when she needs to, but when she’s with her friends or her family she’s dramatic, sarcastic and tends to exaggerate. I hadn’t been entirely sure how much I liked her at the beginning of the book. Then she met Hugh and my opinion did a complete 180. He really brings out the worst in her and vice versa. The conversations that ensue are nothing short of hilarious. They’re forced together for a few weeks for Sarah’s two cousins’ weddings. After spending time with him, Sarah begins to realize he isn’t the complete asshole she thought he was. He’s actually a decent person. And has nice eyes. And he’s very handsome. And Sarah is absolutely horrified that she’s thinking any of this purely because it’s Hugh and she’s supposed to hate him.
After the duel, Hugh becomes crippled and struggles to walk even with a cane. Between the duel and his disability, he holds an awkward place in society; he indirectly forced a popular member of the aristocracy to flee the country, it’s unlikely anyone would be willing to marry a cripple, and he can’t dance or hunt or do much of anything physical. Hugh feels terrible that he couldn’t keep his father from trying to kill Daniel and feels responsible for everything that occurred because of the duel, even the parts that weren’t his fault. He doesn’t want to hate Sarah, but he thinks she’s dramatic and silly and she was really quite a bitch when they first met. Until he realizes he’s attracted to her and she’s sort of cute when she’s dramatic and she’s actually pretty clever.
I loved Sarah and Hugh as enemies. I loved Sarah and Hugh as friends. And I love Sarah and Hugh in love. They’re adorable and funny and I just really want to be best friends with them. Hugh just wants to protect her even though he can’t even catch her from falling out of a carriage because of his leg. Sarah just wants to help him and make him happy because she doesn’t see him as a cripple at all.
I loved this book. It had the perfect amount of everything. I can’t wait to read the next book in the Smythe-Smith Quartet. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys romance or books that make you laugh. As always, I’d love to hear your own thoughts and feedback.
-Antonia

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