Monday, June 5, 2017

Book Tour for The Girl with the Make-Believe Husband By Julia Quinn (Review & GIVEAWAY)

One of the queens of historical romances is back with this tale of a fake marriage that ultimately becomes more against a backdrop of war and suspense.  Keep reading to get a tempting taste of The Girl With the Make-Believe Husband by Julia Quinn, then add it to your bookshelf.  You'll also get my impressions of this book and can learn even more about it by visiting the other sites hosting this tour.  In honor of this second installment in the Rokesbys series make sure to fill out the form below for the chance for US readers to win a print copy of the first book in this series too!

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.


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."
“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.





When you read a Julia Quinn romance there's a sense of serenity and sentimentality, a feeling of being wrapped up in a comfy quilt.  With this latest release readers will find themselves quickly immersed in a strong-willed heroine's journey to America in hopes of saving her brother who finds herself unexpectedly joined to her brother's friend instead.  Against a backdrop of war and uncertainty two people find themselves clinging to each other in a tenuous connection that started out as a lie but soon became oh so real.

Cecilia Harcourt's world was very small as her life revolved around her tiny village.  With virtually no friends and a father who kept her at arm's length, the only person who truly cared for her was her brother Thomas.  Hearing of his being injured has her setting out for America to help him heal.  With him gone missing she's left with no where to turn to for help until she discovers his friend Edward Rokesby convalescing.  In a moment of desperation she blurts out an untruth but it doesn't make her any less determined to see him recover as well as getting to the truth of her brother's disappearance.  Being in close quarters with Edward has them getting to know more about each other, more than the brief sentences she sent in letters to her brother.  She shares introspective feelings and heartfelt emotions as the two of them progress from friends to lovers under the guise of being married.  With his memory returning though she knows time is running out for them as the truth of her feelings for him becomes clearer.  Cecilia was the quintessential English miss, never doing the unexpected until her brother was in danger.  Coming to America brings out a backbone in her that has her doing whatever necessary to help Edward and get answers about her brother.  Knowing that her dream-like time with Edward's coming to an end has her making unexpected choices that show her embracing living over propriety.  Cecilia's immensely likable and loyal.  She made a bold decision that was not done maliciously and it ate at her.  Her reasons for keeping the truth quiet did eventually become personal, but every step she took in her journey was done out of love.

Edward grew up in grandeur but longed for excitement which he found in war. He also found a good friend and an unconventional romance with a kind-hearted and loyal young woman.  Their connection started out subtly but it quickly came to consume him and is what had him embracing her lie.  With his memory gone due to injury he must rely on Cecilia, just as she must rely on him to get to the truth about her brother, which puts them in close quarters.  While Edward heals much time is spent getting to know one another which ultimately turns a lie into the truth.  When he discovers the outcome of her brother, along with the truth about their relationship, it leads to great heartache and sacrifice and an ultimately immensely satisfying conclusion.  Edward's a true gentleman, always worried about Cecilia's reputation.  His infatuation with her started out innocently through a sentence or two in her brother's letters home but they became far more important as time went on.  He became attracted to her words at first but then it was her kindness and loyalty which had him eager to embrace the lie she told everyone and is why he went out of his way to claim her to one and all.  Even when the truth is revealed he didn't act out in anger.  He always put her first which laid a solid foundation for a relationship that started out wrong but quickly became oh so right.

Though the premise of this tale is a bit silly, I still found myself charmed courtesy of the talented Ms. Quinn.  The story often drags but it's the high quality of characterizations that kept me furiously forging on.  The romance between Cecilia and Edward is sensual, and far from scorching, but their appealing connection kept me invested in their futures.  The banter between them was equally engaging and though there was shyness early on it took on a fun and flirty vibe as the story progressed.  The mystery surrounding Thomas intrigued me early on as much was hinted at, a sense of something nefarious, but unfortunately the culmination was left lacking.  I thought a bomb was on the horizon when the truth about Thomas came out but it was more of a whimper. All-in-all this was a sweet and sensual tale of friends becoming lovers and in that simple summation this story succeeded.  While it's not the best work from this author it's still a tale that gave me lots of warm fuzzies and is a fine addition to reader's bookshelves.

My rating for this is a B-

*I got this book from Edelweiss for review in exchange for my honest opinion.


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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