Sara’s Review of The Girl With the Make-Believe Husband by Julia Quinn

I’d like to thank Tasty Book Tours for letting me participate in this tour, and extend my thanks to Avon Books for providing me a copy of this title in exchange for my honest review, murr! =^.^=

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Rating:

Publisher: Avon

Date Released: May 30, 2017

Series: Rokesbys #2

Goodreads Description:

While you were sleeping…

With her brother Thomas injured on the battlefront in the Colonies, orphaned Cecilia Harcourt has two unbearable choices: move in with a maiden aunt or marry a scheming cousin. Instead, she chooses option three and travels across the Atlantic, determined to nurse her brother back to health. But after a week of searching, she finds not her brother but his best friend, the handsome officer Edward Rokesby. He’s unconscious and in desperate need of her care, and Cecilia vows that she will save this soldier’s life, even if staying by his side means telling one little lie…

I told everyone I was your wife

When Edward comes to, he’s more than a little confused. The blow to his head knocked out six months of his memory, but surely he would recall getting married. He knows who Cecilia Harcourt is—even if he does not recall her face—and with everyone calling her his wife, he decides it must be true, even though he’d always assumed he’d marry his neighbor back in England.

If only it were true…

Cecilia risks her entire future by giving herself—completely—to the man she loves. But when the truth comes out, Edward may have a few surprises of his own for the new Mrs. Rokesby.

Review:

I greatly enjoyed reading this book and am looking forward to seeing what happens next with the Rokesby family. Filled with humor, memorable characters, and a mystery waiting to be solved, fans of Quinn’s writing are not going to want to miss this one.

It isn’t often that I read a historical romance that is set in America, so it was nice to experience a change in setting and get a glimpse into life “across the pond” sort to speak. It was this, along with the While You Were Sleeping type plot, that made me wish to pick this up and give it a read. While I do predominately enjoy books set in the United Kingdom during the Regency Era, the fact that this particular book was set in New York during the Revolutionary War makes this title standout from all of the other books I’ve read so far this year in the historical romance genre, and it added to my enjoyment of the read.

Cecilia is a wonderful character. She loves her brother and would do anything for him, even cross the Atlantic. She’s caring, devoted, quick with a joke, and extremely brave. I’d say my only fault with her was her continual putting off telling Edward the truth about their relationship. While I understand why she made the choice that she did, I was frustrated that she was willing to risk hurting him in order to get the answers that she sought regarding her brother. Edward, meanwhile, is just as quick-witted, as well as dependable and loyal. Even though their romantic relationship was built on a lie, the fact that they had corresponded with each other through Cecilia’s letters to her brother made me suspect that they probably would have ended up together even if Cecilia hadn’t traveled to the Colonies. It is clear from the start that they are attracted to each other through their correspondence, so to have Edward believe that they were already married just added a sense of ease to their eventual coming together. I greatly enjoyed the banter back and forth between them in the letters at the start of each chapter, as well as seeing them at ease with their role as a “married” couple.

As the plot says, Cecilia originally goes to America in order to take care of her brother, but instead she finds Edward in her brother’s stead. While most of the book focuses on her and Edward’s relationship, there are moments where they attempt to seek answers to her brother’s whereabouts. The mystery of where Thomas is and what happened to him, as well as the mystery of what lead to Edward’s lost memory make up the backdrop of this book, and my desire to find out the answers left me reading well into the early hours. Was Thomas acting as a spy for the Redcoats? Did he turn traitor and try to get Edward out of the way? Does Edward regain his memory of everything that happened? I could tell you the answers, but I think you’d have more fun discovering them for yourself. Heehee.

Now I’m going to be honest, I haven’t read any of Quinn’s Bridgerton series, thus the fact that this is a prequel to that series didn’t register while I was reading. So if you are hoping to hear about how this particular book ties in with that series, I’m afraid I’m going to have to disappoint you. I suspect there is more to the connection than simply Billie Bridgerton from the first book of this series, but I can’t say what that connection is. I can say, however, that I plan to read more of Quinn’s books in the future, especially if they are as fun as her Rokesbys series has been so far.

Quinn has an easy writing style that allows for quick connections with her characters that in turn lead to many an emotional reaction from the reader. When we finally do discover what happened to Cecilia’s brother…well, let me just say that you’ll want to keep a box of tissue handy just in case. At the same time Quinn is skilled at pulling the reader into her stories and holding their attention until the very end. I loved how she ended this book with George Rokesby gearing up to tell the story of Andrew Rokesby. I can’t wait to read his book once it comes out, murr!

Yes, I’m greatly enjoying the Rokesby family, and I’m glad to have finally discovered Quinn’s books. I don’t know why I haven’t tried her out prior to now, but I can promise that this won’t be the last series of hers I’ll be reading. If you love historical romance and are looking for a new author to try this summer, I highly recommend you check out Quinn for yourself. And if you are a returning fan who loved the Bridgeton’s, you’ll not want to miss the Rokesby men.

Excerpt:

Manhattan Island
July 1779

His head hurt.
Correction, his head really hurt.
It was hard to tell, though, just what sort of pain it was. He might have been shot through the head with a musket ball. That seemed plausible, given his current location in New York (or was it Connecticut?) and his current occupation as a captain in His Majesty’s army.
There was a war going on, in case one hadn’t noticed.
But this particular pounding—the one that felt more like someone was bashing his skull with a cannon (not a cannonball, mind you, but an actual cannon) seemed to indicate that he had been attacked with a blunter instrument than a bullet.
An anvil, perhaps. Dropped from a second-story window.
But if one cared to look on the bright side, a pain such as this did seem to indicate that he wasn’t dead, which was also a plausible fate, given all the same facts that had led him to believe he might have been shot.
That war he’d mentioned… people did die.
With alarming regularity.
So he wasn’t dead. That was good. But he also wasn’t sure where he was, precisely. The obvious next step would be to open his eyes, but his eyelids were translucent enough for him to realize that it was the middle of the day, and while he did like to look on the metaphorical bright side, he was fairly certain that the literal one would prove blinding.
So he kept his eyes closed.
But he listened.
He wasn’t alone. He couldn’t make out any actual conversation, but a low buzz of words and activity filtered through the air. People were moving about, setting objects on tables, maybe pulling a chair across the floor.
Someone was moaning in pain.
Most of the voices were male, but there was at least one lady nearby. She was close enough that he could hear her breathing. She made little noises as she went about her business, which he soon realized included tucking blankets around him and touching his forehead with the back of her hand.
He liked these little noises, the tiny little mmms and sighs she probably had no idea she was making. And she smelled nice, a bit like lemons, a bit like soap.
And a bit like hard work.
He knew that smell. He’d worn it himself, albeit usually only briefly until it turned into a full-fledged stink.
On her, though, it was more than pleasant. Perhaps a little earthy. And he wondered who she was, to be tending to him so diligently.
“How is he today?”
Edward held himself still. This male voice was new, and he wasn’t sure he wanted anyone to know he was awake yet.
Although he wasn’t sure why he felt this hesitancy.
“The same,” came the woman’s reply.
“I am concerned. If he doesn’t wake up soon…”
“I know,” the woman said. There was a touch of irritation in her voice, which Edward found curious.
“Have you been able to get him to take broth?”
“Just a few spoonfuls. I was afraid he would choke if I attempted any more than that.”
The man made a vague noise of approval. “Remind me how long he has been like this?”
“A week, sir. Four days before I arrived, and three since.”
A week. Edward thought about this. A week meant it must be… March? April?
No, maybe it was only February. And this was probably New York, not Connecticut.
But that still didn’t explain why his head hurt so bloody much. Clearly he’d been in some sort of an accident. Or had he been attacked?
“There has been no change at all?” the man asked, even though the lady had just said as much.
But she must have had far more patience than Edward, because she replied in a quiet, clear voice, “No, sir. None.”
The man made a noise that wasn’t quite a grunt. Edward found it impossible to interpret.
“Er…” The woman cleared her throat. “Have you any news of my brother?”
Her brother? Who was her brother?
“I am afraid not, Mrs. Rokesby.”
Mrs. Rokesby?
“It has been nearly two months,” she said quietly.
Mrs. Rokesby? Edward really wanted them to get back to that point. There was only one Rokesby in North America as far as he knew, and that was him. So if she was Mrs. Rokesby…
“I think,” the male voice said, “that your energies would be better spent tending to your husband.”
Husband?
“I assure you,” she said, and there was that touch of irritation again, “that I have been caring for him most faithfully.”
Husband? They were calling him her husband? Was he married? He couldn’t be married. How could he be married and not remember it?
Who was this woman?
Edward’s heart began to pound. What the devil was happening to him?
“Did he just make a noise?” the man asked.
“I… I don’t think so.”
She moved then, quickly. Hands touched him, his cheek, then his chest, and even through her obvious concern, there was something soothing in her motions, something undeniably right.
“Edward?” she asked, taking his hand. She stroked it several times, her fingers brushing lightly over his skin. “Can you hear me?”
He ought to respond. She was worried. What kind of gentleman did not act to relieve a lady’s distress?
“I fear he may be lost to us,” the man said, with far less gentleness than Edward thought appropriate.
“He still breathes,” the woman said in a steely voice.
The man said nothing, but his expression must have been one of pity, because she said it again, more loudly this time.
“He still breathes.”
“Mrs. Rokesby…”
Edward felt her hand tighten around his. Then she placed her other on top, her fingers resting lightly on his knuckles. It was the smallest sort of embrace, but Edward felt it down to his soul.
“He still breathes, Colonel,” she said with quiet resolve. “And while he does, I will be here. I may not be able to help Thomas, but—”
Thomas. Thomas Harcourt. That was the connection. This must be his sister. Cecilia. He knew her well.
Or not. He’d never actually met the lady, he felt like he knew her. She wrote to her brother with a diligence that was unmatched in the regiment. Thomas received twice as much mail as Edward, and Edward had four siblings to Thomas’s one.
Cecilia Harcourt. What on earth was she doing in North America? She was supposed to be in Derbyshire, in that little town Thomas had been so eager to leave. The one with the hot springs. Matlock. No, Matlock Bath.
Edward had never been, but he thought it sounded charming. Not the way Thomas described it, of course; he liked the bustle of city life and couldn’t wait to take a commission and depart his village. But Cecilia was different. In her letters, the small Derbyshire town came alive, and Edward almost felt that he would recognize her neighbors if he ever went to visit.
She was witty. Lord, she was witty. Thomas used to laugh so much at her missives that Edward finally made him read them out loud.
Then one day, when Thomas was penning his response, Edward interrupted so many times that Thomas finally shoved out his chair and held forth his quill.
“You write to her,” he’d said.
So he did.
Not on his own, of course. Edward could never have written to her directly. It would have been the worst sort of impropriety, and he would not have insulted her in such a manner. But he took to scribbling a few lines at the end of Thomas’s letters, and whenever she replied, she had a few lines for him.
Thomas carried a miniature of her, and even though he said it was several years old, Edward had found himself staring at it, studying the small portrait of the young woman, wondering if her hair really was that remarkable golden color, or if she really did smile that way, lips closed and mysterious.
Somehow he thought not. She did not strike him as a woman with secrets. Her smile would be sunny and free. Edward had even thought he’d like to meet her once this godforsaken war was over. He’d never said anything to Thomas, though.
That would have been strange.
Now Cecilia was here. In the colonies. Which made absolutely no sense, but then again, what did? Edward’s head was injured, and Thomas seemed to be missing, and…
Edward thought hard.
…and he seemed to have married Cecilia Harcourt.
He opened his eyes and tried to focus on the green-eyed woman peering down at him.
“Cecilia?”

About the Author:

Julia Quinn is the New York Times bestselling author of twenty-five novels for Avon Books, and one of only sixteen authors ever to be inducted in the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family.

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Posted on June 6, 2017, in Book Reviews. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Thank you for reviewing!
    Allisia
    Tasty Book Tours