Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Girl with the Make-Believe Husband - Julia Quinn (Avon - June 2017)

Series: Bridgerton Prequels/Rokesbys (Book 2)

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.

Good book. Cecilia is alone in the world after her father's death, except for her brother, a Captain in the army who is posted in the Colonies, and a very unpleasant cousin. When she receives word that her brother has been injured and her cousin makes unwelcome advances, she takes ship for America to nurse Thomas back to health. Unfortunately, when she arrives, Thomas is missing, and no one can tell her anything about him. She does discover that Thomas's best friend, Edward Rokesby, is in the hospital in a coma. If she can't help Thomas, at least she can help his friend - except that the powers-that-be won't allow anyone but family into the hospital. Desperate to help, she declares that she is Edward's wife, not thinking what will happen when he wakes up and exposes her lie.

When Edward regains consciousness, he's very confused. First, he's missing a large chunk of his memories from the last several months. Second, he recognizes Cecilia as his friend's sister, thanks to a miniature that Thomas had, but he doesn't remember marrying her. But with everyone around him treating her as such, he allows himself to be convinced.

I enjoyed the development of Edward and Cecilia's relationship. They had already become friends thanks to a long-running correspondence through sharing Thomas's letters. I loved the excerpts from those letters included at the beginning of each chapter. Each one showed a little bit more of the progression of their friendship. With Edward's release from the hospital, they are thrown into constant contact with each other. They are brought closer by their shared concern for Thomas and their determination to discover what had happened to him. Proximity also brings out other things. Edward is attracted to the woman he believes he is married to, but can't do anything about it until he is more fully recovered. I also loved his protective streak, as he found himself wanting to save her from worry over her brother. It was also sweet to see his realization that he had started to love her through her letters and to get to know her had finished the job. Cecilia has a rougher time of it. There is no doubt in her mind about how deeply she cares for Edward, but she feels horribly guilty about the lies she has told. First, she worries that telling him the truth could cause a relapse. She also fears what will happen to her once she does. Then the lies keep building up, and she continues to put off telling him the truth. She knows she has to tell him before he regains his memory, but she just can't bring herself to do it. I ached for Edward when the truth came out, first for his sense of betrayal and then for his fear that she doesn't really care about him. Cecilia's love for Edward has her wanting what is best for him, which she feels is not her. She can't bring herself to tell him face-to-face and tries to escape on her own. Edward's big moment is romantic and amusing, thanks to Cecilia's cabinmate and the ship's captain. The epilogue was great and has me anxiously awaiting Andrew's story.

The concurrent story of Thomas's whereabouts and what led to Edward's injury and memory loss was interesting. Edward's frustration over being unable to remember what had happened to him was obvious and heartbreaking. I fully understood his anger with his commander once his memories did return. I ached for both Edward and Cecilia as they learned more about what had happened to Thomas. Thomas's letter to Edward just about broke my heart.

I loved the setting of the American Colonies during the Revolutionary War. It is a time period rarely used during historical romances which is too bad. It seems to me that there is great opportunity for some more unusual storylines.

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