Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Girl With the Make-Believe Husband - Julia Quinn (Rokesbys #2)

The Girl with the Make-Believe Husband (Rokesbys, #2)Ah, Julia Quinn.  You and your protagonists that don't talk to each other...  What an ongoing trope you have there.  This book is no exception.

So, this book is the story of Edward Rokesby, who we never saw in the first book in this series (Because of Miss Bridgerton) because he was off fighting in the American Revolution for the British...until we learned that he was missing.  Our heroine is Cecilia Harcourt, who goes to America looking for her injured brother, who was friends with Edward.  When she finds out Edward is back, and injured, and Thomas is missing, Cecilia claims to be Edward's wife so she can help care for him.  And when he wakes up with amnesia, she lets him believe that they're married, too...

I want to like this but it kind of rubs me the wrong way at the same time.  I can see why, the further she got into the lie, the more reluctant Cecilia was to own up to the truth.  It can be really hard to pivot and tell someone you care for that you've been lying the entire time, and the longer it goes on, the harder it is to tell them.  But at the same time...isn't she kind of gaslighting Edward by letting him believe they're married?  She's not making him believe he's crazy, but at the same time she's telling him things that drastically alter how he behaves and goes about his business, as he wouldn't act that way if he didn't believe they were married.  She doesn't do it maliciously--she really wants to help him, and then later on realizes that being his "wife" is the fastest way to get information about her brother because people are far more willing to help her as the daughter-in-law of a viscount than as her untitled self--but she still does it.  And so I was glad at how angry Edward was when he found out, but how he still acted honorably in pretty much every aspect.

But here's the thing.  Despite my reservations about how the relationship is played out here, with all of the misleading, this book was charming.  Taking place earlier than Quinn's Bridgerton series, it's not a time period used in a lot of historical romance, and especially because one of the main characters is on the British side.  I'm not sure I've ever actually seen that before.  Most novels in this period that I've encountered feature the scrappy American rebels going up against the Big Bad British, and so seeing things from the British side (even to a relatively low degree; there's no actual fighting taking place in this book, it's all set in occupied New York City) was different.  Cecilia and Edward are also so sweet, both together and apart, having started to know each other through the correspondence that Cecilia kept up with Thomas.

Like most of Quinn's books, this was a quick read.  I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series, which will be about Edward's other brother (the elder one having been the focus of the first book) though I think I'll probably forget most of the connections by the time it comes around, just as I forgot most of who was who in the first book by the time I got to this one...

Overall, 3.5 stars out of 5.

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