The Sum of All Kisses (Smythe-Smith Quartet #3) by Julia Quinn (2013)
In this third installment of the Smythe-Smith Quartet, we begin by learning about the duel that drove Daniel out of the country and left Hugh Prentice partially disabled. Hugh has patched things up with Daniel and will, in fact, be attending his wedding in a couple of weeks. But first is the wedding of Honoria and Marcus (who got together in Just Like Heaven.) Lady Sarah Pleinsworth is also attending these weddings and, unfortunately, she and Hugh keep getting stuck together even though they cannot stand each other.
Sarah hates Hugh because of what he did to her cousin Daniel. That whole escapade kept her at home during what should have been her first season out, a season in which no less than fourteen eligible bachelors found wives. She could have been one of them. Now, her chances of making a good marriage have decreased.
Hugh also feels terrible about what happened with Daniel, but there is much more to that story than Sarah knows. The worst of it is because of Hugh's awful father, who is an incredibly vindictive and abusive man. Now, Hugh is trying to keep his father away from Daniel while trying to deal with his changed life situation, now that his injuries have left him unable to do things he enjoys such as hunting and dancing.
As much as I liked Sarah, Hugh was the really interesting character for me in this novel. The duel with Daniel was ridiculous and came from Hugh having too much to drink and losing at cards. He's a mathematical whiz, and not used to losing. But the duel almost killed him, which would mean no heir, and his father was livid. Hugh tried to remind him that his older brother could still marry and father some kids, but they both knew that he was not the marrying kind, if you catch my drift. Hugh's feelings for his father, brother, and Daniel are all explored during this novel, as, of course, are his feelings for Lady Sarah Pleinsworth. But there's more to the situation with his father than she knows, and as their feelings for each other turn surprisingly romantic, it is clear they may have hurdles to overcome that are far more difficult than their initial dislike of one another.
This was a fun read! I think I still liked the first two books in the series better, but it still had the humor that I so enjoy in Quinn's writing and the storyline was pretty good. I can't say what made it weaker than the others to me, but somehow it just didn't grab me quite as much. But after that existential young adult novel I had just finished, I think it was exactly what I needed.