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.
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 …
Source: purchasedThis third book in the Smythe-Smith series (an offshoot of the Bridgerton series, which I LOVE) is my favorite. We met Hugh in the last book, A Night Like This, because he is the reason why Daniel Smythe-Smith was exiled to the continent for three years. I was very intrigued by Hugh. He was injured in the same duel that caused Daniel to leave England and you could feel the waves of guilt and self-loathing rolling off of him. I was excited to learn tha the would have his own book because I felt he was in worthy of redemption, even if he was the only one who thought himself guilty.
So, keeping this in mind going into The Sum of All Kisses, we understand Hugh somewhat, though we do find more depth to him and his relationships with his family in this book, obviously. He has a big guilt complex because he started the duel that forced forced his friend to shoot him in the leg, making him lame. The duel also caused Daniel to run away from England because he was being pursued by Hugh’s vindictive and belligerant father. Hugh has brought Daniel back and now he and Daniel need to show everyone that there is no bad blood between them so Hugh is a special guest at both Daniel and his sister Honoria’s weddings. Because of this, he gets to see one of his least favorite people, the dramatic Lady Sarah Pleinsworth, Daniel & Honoria’s cousin.
Sarah is still very much holding a grudge against Hugh for what happened with Daniel, though no one else in the family is. When Honoria asks her to try to be kind and include Hugh in the festivities, Sarah reluctantly does so, but she doesn’t hold her tongue or keep her thoughts to herself. But little by little, she comes to know Hugh and they develop a friendship that soon leads to other feelings that she didn’t expect.
This is the best Smythe-Smith book, in my opinion. Lady Sarah was a hoot, so fun and, yes, dramatic. And Hugh was just gorgeous. He’s guilt-ridden and has self-esteem issues because of his injuries. The entire story, with Daniel and his father, leads to some interesting events that was not predictable (holy cow, I didn’t see this coming). I loved both characters, who couldn’t have been more different from each other, but found common ground. This was a very sweet story, the relationship building in a believable way from hatred to love. I had this book on pre-order for nearly a year and when it came in, I just gobbled it up (and pushed aside another book that I was in the middle of to do so). Another ace for Ms. Quinn. Warning: this book also made me aching to re-read the Bridgerton series. She has such a way with writing family and making characters different and interesting, even the ones you don’t think you will like.