In brief: The second in the Bridgerton prequels takes the reader to America, where Cecilia Harcourt is looking for her brother. Oh, and she might have accidentally said she’s married to his best friend…
The good: Great idea for a story.
The not-so-good: I missed reading about all the other characters back in England.
Why I chose it: Julia Quinn’s novels are always fun!
Publisher: Avon Books (Harper Collins)
Setting: Mainly New York, USA
Rating: 8 out of 10
The Girl With the Make-Believe Husband is the second book in the Bridgerton prequels, even though this book really has very little to do with the more famous Bridgertons. (You could also call it the second story about the Rokesbys, neighbours of the Bridgertons). This is a story with a difference to the other novels as it’s set almost entirely outside England in the USA. I felt this stifled the opportunity to catch up with the other characters we’d gotten to know in Because of Miss Bridgerton, but it’s still good fun.
Cecilia Harcourt has travelled from England to America after she receives word that her beloved brother has been injured. Their father has just died and Cecilia isn’t going to stick around when her slimy cousin has come to visit. On arrival, she can’t fine her brother Thomas but discovers his wounded best friend, Edward Rokesby. Conditions in the hospital are poor, and to make sure Edward receives the best care, Cecilia tells everyone that they are married. Luckily for her, Edward has lost his memory and they have corresponded through Thomas’s letters for some time. Here Cecilia’s lie grows bigger and bigger and Edward is perplexed that he can’t remember anything about her proposal or wedding. It’s lucky that both of them get along well and find each other attractive…but the truth will have to be told eventually…
I know some readers have found it difficult to get past Cecilia’s basing her entire relationship with Edward on a lie, when she had multiple opportunities to come clean. I didn’t find that, mainly because I feel that sometimes these stories are told tongue in cheek and it’s fiction anyway. While I liked both Cecilia and Edward as characters, I wouldn’t be fighting it out for either of them. They are both perfectly pleasant, but a little too straight and boring at times. (Although Cecilia does have a spectacular verbal stoush at the end of the novel with a stranger. I wish we had seen more of that fire a little earlier). It’s a nice novel, but without the burning passions in other Julia Quinn novels. It’s more about absurd situations and cute/shy moments as the newlyweds that aren’t learn to navigate each other. I think the lack of other substantial characters also gave this novel more of a narrow focus. I would have loved some subplots involving the other army officers or the baker’s wife. There were hints of spying and intrigue that would have been great to read more about too.
Overall, it’s not my favourite Julia Quinn novel but it does set things up very nicely for Andrew Rokesby’s story. Quinn’s novels can be relied on to provide a fun read and escapism, and I look forward to more.