Just Like Heaven (Smythe-Smith Quartet Series #1)by Julia Quinn
Once again, #1 New York Times bestselling author Julia Quinn transports her readers to historical romance heaven! Quinn’s Just Like Heaven is the dazzling first installment of a delightful quartet of Regency Era-set tales featuring the romantic exploits of the well-meaning but less-than-accomplished Smythe-Smith musicians—in this case, a/b>/b>… See more details below
Once again, #1 New York Times bestselling author Julia Quinn transports her readers to historical romance heaven! Quinn’s Just Like Heaven is the dazzling first installment of a delightful quartet of Regency Era-set tales featuring the romantic exploits of the well-meaning but less-than-accomplished Smythe-Smith musicians—in this case, a beautiful violinist in the pitiful group who has her sights set on marrying the last unwed Bridgerton…unless her handsome, love-struck guardian has anything to say about it. Bridgerton fans will cry, “Encore!”—as will every reader who adores England’s Regency period and great love stories that are smart, witty, and lighthearted.
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Just Like Heaven
By Julia Quick
AvonCopyright © 2011 Julia Quick
All right reserved.
Chapter OneMarch 1824
Lady Honoria Smythe-Smith was desperate.
Desperate for a sunny day, desperate for a
husband, desperateshe thought with an
exhausted sigh as she looked down at her ruined blue
slippersfor a new pair of shoes.
She sat down heavily on the stone bench outside
Mr. Hilleford's Tobacco Shoppe for Discerning
Gentlemen and pressed herself up against the wall behind
her, desperately (there was that awful word again)
trying to wedge her entire body under the awning.
It was pouring. Pouring. Not drizzling, not merely
raining, but pouring proverbial cats, dogs, sheep, and
At this rate, she wouldn't have been surprised if an
elephant tumbled down from the sky.
And it stank. Honoria had thought that cheroots
produced her least favorite smell, but no, mold was
worse, and Mr. Hilleford's Tobacco Shoppe for
Gentlemen who Did Not Mind if Their Teeth Turned
Yellow had a suspicious black substance creeping
along its outer wall that smelled like death.
Really, could she possibly be in a worse situation?
Why, yes. Yes, she could. Because she was (of
course) quite alone, the rain having taken thirty
seconds to go from drip to downpour. The rest of her
shopping party was across the street, happily browsing
in the warm and cozy Miss Pilaster's Fancy
Emporium of Ribbons and Trinkets, which, in addition
to having all sorts of fun and frilly merchandise,
smelled a great deal better than Mr. Hilleford's
Miss Pilaster sold perfume. Miss Pilaster sold
dried rose petals and little candles that smelled like
Mr. Hilleford grew mold.
Honoria sighed. Such was her life.
She had lingered too long at the window of a bookshop,
assuring her friends that she would meet them
at Miss Pilaster's in a minute or two. Two minutes
had turned to five, and then, just as she'd been
preparing to make her way across the street, the heavens
had opened and Honoria had had no choice but to
take refuge under the only open awning on the south
side of the Cambridge High Street.
She stared mournfully at the rain, watching it
pummel the street. The drops were pelting the
cobblestones with tremendous force, splashing and
spraying back into the air like tiny little explosions.
The sky was darkening by the second, and if
Honoria was any judge of English weather, the wind was
going to pick up at any moment, rendering her
pathetic spot under Mr. Hilleford's awning completely
Her mouth slipped into a dejected frown, and she
squinted up at the sky.
Her feet were wet.
She was cold.
And she'd never once, not in her entire life, left the
boundaries of England, which meant that she was a
rather good judge of English weather, and in about
three minutes she was going to be even more miserable
than she was right now.
Which she really hadn't thought possible.
She blinked, bringing her gaze down from the sky
to the carriage that had just rolled into place in front
She knew that voice. "Marcus?"
Oh, good heavens, her misery only needed this.
Marcus Holroyd, the Earl of Chatteris, happy and dry
in his plush carriage. Honoria felt her jaw go slack,
although really, she didn't know why she should be
surprised. Marcus lived in Cambridgeshire, not too
far from the city. More to the point, if anyone were to
see her while she was looking like a wet, bedraggled
creature of the rodential variety, it would be he.
"Good God, Honoria," he said, scowling down
at her in that supercilious way of his, "you must be
She managed the barest of shrugs. "It is a bit brisk."
"What are you doing here?"
"Shopping," she said, motioning across the street,
"with friends. And cousins." Not that her cousins
weren't also friends. But she had so many cousins
they almost seemed a category unto themselves.
The door opened wider. "Get in," he said. Not
Will you please get in or Please, you must dry
yourself off. Just: "Get in."
Another girl might have tossed her hair and said,
You can't order me about! Another, slightly less
prideful girl might have thought it, even if she'd
lacked the courage to say it aloud. But Honoria was
cold, and she valued her comfort more than her pride,
and more to the point, this was Marcus Holroyd, and
she'd known him since she was in pinafores.
Since the age of six, to be precise.
That was also probably the last time she'd managed
to show herself to advantage, she thought with
a grimace. At seven she'd made such a pest of herself
that he and her brother Daniel had taken to calling
her Mosquito. When she'd claimed to be complimented,
that she'd loved how exotic and dangerous it
had sounded, they'd smirked and changed it to Bug.
Bug she'd been, ever since.
He'd seen her wetter than this, too. He'd seen her
completely soaked, back when she was eight and
she'd thought she'd been completely hidden in the
boughs of the old oak tree at Whipple Hill. Marcus
and Daniel had built a fort at its base, no girls
allowed. They had pelted her with pebbles until she'd
lost her grip and tumbled down.
In retrospect, she really shouldn't have chosen the
branch that hung over the lake.
Marcus had fished her out of the dunk, though,
which was more than she could say for her own
Marcus Holroyd, she thought ruefully. He'd been
in her life almost as long as she could remember.
Since before he was Lord Chatteris, since before
Daniel was Lord Winstead. Since before Charlotte,
her closest-in-age sister, had married and left home.
Since before Daniel, too, had left.
She looked up. Marcus's voice was impatient, but
his face held a hint of concern. "Get in," he repeated.
She nodded and did as he said, taking his large
hand in hers and accepting his help into his
carriage. "Marcus," she said, trying to settle herself
into her seat with all the grace and nonchalance she
might exhibit in a fine drawing room, never mind
the puddles at her feet. "What a lovely surprise to
He just stared at her, his dark brows coming ever
so slightly together. He was trying to decide the most
effective way to scold her, she was sure.
"I am staying here in town. With the Royles," she
told him, even though he hadn't yet asked. "We are
here for five daysCecily Royle, my cousins Sarah
and Iris, and I." She waited for a moment, for some
sort of flash of recognition in his eyes, then said,
"You don't remember who they are, do you?"
"You have a great many cousins," he pointed out.
"Sarah is the one with the thick, dark hair and
"Thick eyes?" he murmured, cracking a tiny smile.
He chuckled. "Very well. Thick hair. Dark eyes."
"Iris is very pale. Strawberry blond hair?" she
prompted. "You still don't recall."
"She comes from that family of flowers."
Honoria winced. It was true that her uncle William
and aunt Maria had chosen to name their daughters
Rose, Marigold, Lavender, Iris, and Daisy, but still.
"I know who Miss Royle is," Marcus said.
"She's your neighbor. You have to know who she is."
He just shrugged.
"At any rate, we are here in Cambridge because
Cecily's mother thought we could all use a bit of
His mouth tipped into a vaguely mocking smile.
Honoria wondered why females always needed
improving, while males got to go to school. "She bribed
two professors into allowing us to listen to their
"Really?" He sounded curious. And dubious.
"The life and times of Queen Elizabeth,"
Honoria recited dutifully. "And after that, something in
"Do you speak Greek?"
"Not a one of us," she admitted. "But the professor
was the only other one who was willing to speak
to females." She rolled her eyes. "He intends to
deliver the lecture twice in a row. We must wait in an
office until the students leave the lecture hall, lest
they see us and lose all sense of reason."
Marcus nodded thoughtfully. "It is nearly impossible
for a gentleman to keep his mind upon his studies
in the presence of such overwhelming female loveliness."
Honoria thought he was serious for about two
seconds. She managed one sideways glance in his
direction before she burst out with a snort of laughter.
"Oh, please," she said, giving him a light punch
in the arm. Such familiarities were unheard of in
London, but here, with Marcus . . .
He was practically her brother, after all.
"How fares your mother?" he asked.
"She is well," Honoria replied, even though she
wasn't. Not really. Lady Winstead had never quite
recovered from the scandal of Daniel being forced
to leave the country. She alternated between fussing
over supposed slights and pretending her only son
had never existed.
It was . . . difficult.
"She hopes to retire to Bath," Honoria added. "Her
sister lives there, and I think the two of them would
get on well together. She doesn't really like London."
"Your mother?" Marcus asked, with some
"Not as she used to," Honoria clarified. "Not
since Daniel . . . Well. You know."
Marcus's lips tightened at the corners. He knew.
"She thinks people are still talking about it,"
Honoria shrugged helplessly. "I have no idea. I
don't think so. No one has given me the cut direct.
Besides, it was nearly three years ago. Wouldn't you
think everyone has something else to talk about?"
"I would have thought that everyone would have
had something else to talk about when it happened,"
he said darkly.
Honoria lifted a brow as she regarded his scowl.
There was a reason he scared off so many debutantes.
Her friends were terrified of him.
Well, that wasn't entirely true. They were only
scared while in his presence. The rest of the time they
sat at their escritoires, writing their names entwined
with hisall in ridiculous loopy script, adorned with
hearts and cherubs.
He was quite the matrimonial catch, Marcus Holroyd.
It wasn't that he was handsome, because he
wasn't, not exactly. His hair was a nice dark color;
his eyes, too, but there was something about his face
that Honoria found harsh. His brow was too heavy,
too straight, his eyes set a bit too deeply.
But still, there was something about him that
caught the eye. An aloofness, a tinge of disdain, as
if he simply did not have the patience for nonsense.
It made the girls mad for him, even though most
were nonsense personified.
They whispered about him as if he were some dark
storybook hero, or if not that, then the villain, all
Gothic and mysterious, needing only to be redeemed.
Whereas to Honoria he was simply Marcus, which
wasn't anything simple at all. She hated the way he
patronized her, watching her with that disapproving
stare. He made her feel as she'd been years ago, as an
annoying child, or gawky adolescent.
And yet at the same time, there was something so
comforting in having him about. Their paths did not
cross as often as they used toeverything was different
now that Daniel was gonebut when she walked
into a room, and he was there . . .
She knew it.
And oddly enough, that was a good thing.
"Do you plan to come down to London for the
season?" she asked politely.
"For some of it," he replied, his face inscrutable. "I
have matters to attend to here."
"And you?" he asked.
"Do you plan to go down to London for the
Her lips parted. Surely he could not be serious.
Where else would she possibly go, given her unmarried
state? It wasn't as if
"Are you laughing?" she asked suspiciously.
"Of course not." But he was smiling.
"It's not funny," she told him. "It's not as if I have
a choice. I have to go for the season. I'm desperate."
"Desperate," he repeated, and he looked dubious.
It was a frequent expression on his face.
"I have to find a husband this year." She felt her
head shaking back and forth, even though she wasn't
sure what she might be objecting to. Her situation
was not so very different from most of her friends'.
She wasn't the only young lady hoping for marriage.
But she wasn't looking for a husband so that she could
admire the ring on her finger or bask in the glory of
her status as a dashing young matron. She wanted a
house of her own. A familya large, noisy one that
didn't always mind their manners.
She was just so sick of the silence that had taken
over her home. She hated the sound of her footsteps
clacking across the floor, hated that it was so
frequently the only noise she heard all afternoon.
She needed a husband. It was the only way.
"Oh, come now, Honoria," Marcus said, and she
didn't need to see his face to know his expression
preciselypatronizing and skeptical, with just a touch
of ennui. "Your life cannot possibly be so dire."
She grit her teeth together. She despised that tone.
"Forget I said anything," she muttered, because
really, it wasn't worth it, trying to explain it to him.
He let out a breath, and even that managed to be
condescending. "You're not likely to find a husband
here," he said.
She pressed her lips together, regretting that she'd
brought up the subject.
"The students here are too young," he remarked.
"They are the same age as I am," she said, falling
neatly into his trap.
But Marcus did not gloat; he wasn't the sort.
"That is why you're here in Cambridge, isn't it? To
visit with the students who have not yet gone down
She looked determinedly straight ahead as she
said, "I told you, we're here to listen to lectures."
He nodded. "In Greek."
He grinned at that. Except it wasn't really a grin.
Marcus was always so serious, so stiff, that a grin
for him would be a dry half-smile on anyone else.
Honoria wondered how often he smiled without
anyone realizing it. He was lucky she knew him so
well. Anyone else would think him completely
Excerpted from Just Like Heaven by Julia Quick Copyright © 2011 by Julia Quick. Excerpted by permission of Avon. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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