Reviewed for Joyfully Reviewed
When she receives word that her brother has injured on the battlefield in the Colonies, newly orphaned Cecilia Harcourt does the only thing she can do: pack her bags, flee her oily cousin trying to coerce her into marriage, and spend her savings coming to America to take care of her brother. But when she arrives in New York, it’s not her brother she finds in the hospital, but his best friend, Edward Rokesby. Edward is injured and unconscious and Cecilia is determined to help him. To do so, she has to tell one little lie: that she’s his wife. She doesn’t expect Edward to awaken with no knowledge of the last three months of his life. He knows who she is and believes it when he’s told they’re married. With no leads on her brother and an injured, kind man who needs her, Cecilia decides to temporarily carry on her charade. But the longer she’s around Edward, the harder it is not to slip into the fantasy that she’s his wife. She knows she can’t lie to him forever, but what will happen when the truth comes out?
The Girl with the Make-Believe Husband is a bit of a difficult book for me to review. Julia Quinn is one of my favorite authors and though this is a solidly-written book, it lacks Ms. Quinn’s signature vibrancy. Part of this is due to the setting – Revolutionary War America, even away from the battlefront, doesn’t lend itself to witty banter or cheerful antics – but part of the problem is that nothing much happens in this story. It’s the story of a good woman in a hard situation who is forced to lie, and the good man who is tricked as a result.
I won’t say The Girl with the Make-Believe Husband is a bad book, for it isn’t. Cecilia and Edward are caring, likeable people who clearly make a good match. But the most engaging part of their romance comes from the excerpts of letters they started to exchange through Cecilia’s brother months before our hero and heroine ever met. Those tiny bits at the beginning of each chapter were, for me, the liveliest bits of the book. The rest of the story was fairly slow and uneventful and this is the first time ever that I had no problem putting a book of Ms. Quinn’s down. As I said before, it’s not a bad book; it’s a sweet, if slightly muted romance, and perhaps it would have worked better for me in a novella format. Even though The Girl with the Make-Believe Husband wasn’t my particular cup of tea, the ending left me satisfied with Edward and Cecilia’s happily ever after and I’m incredibly anxious to read Andrew Rokesby’s book.
2.5 stars. I'm struggling with the rating because this isn't a bad book and the characters are perfectly likeable. But as a JQ book, it's sadly lacking. There's no spark, it's slow, and not much happens for 2/3 of the book. It pains me to give a low rating to a JQ book, but this one was missing her regular magic. It's also the first time ever that I had no problem putting a book of hers down. I'm chalking it up to be an anomaly and I'm still really looking forward to Andrew's book.