Julia Quinn continues her Rokesbys series with a romantic tale set in America during the Revolutionary War. In The Girl With the Make-Believe Husband, Cecilia Harcourt leaves England in search of her brother Thomas, a soldier injured in the British colonies. Instead, she finds his best friend, Edward Rokesby, who is unconscious and badly injured after a blow to the head. Determined to save his life, she tells a little white lie: She claims to be his wife. Here, Quinn shares the moment she realized she’d have to write a romance set in America and her favorite historical romances set in the US.
After 24 novels set in the British Isles, I moved across the pond for The Girl With the Make-Believe Husband. I did it for the very best of reasons: I’d written myself into a corner, and the only way to write myself back out was to set the novel in Revolutionary-era New York City.
In Because of Miss Bridgerton, the first book in the Rokesby series, the hero’s brother—Edward Rokesby, a captain in the British army—goes missing in the colonies. At the very end of the novel (seriously, like the very last line) it is discovered that he is alive. Upon writing this, I patted myself on the back for an excellent cliffhanger, sent my manuscript off to my editor, and promptly passed out from exhaustion. When the writing part of my brain finally came to (about three months later) it occurred to me that I was going to have to figure out what the heck had happened to Edward. And since I’d left him somewhere in the American colonies, I was probably going to have to start the next book there.
So The Girl With the Make-Believe Husband begins on Manhattan, on a warm June afternoon. Edward Rokesby wakes up in a hospital bed with a raging headache, a big blank spot where the last three months of his memory ought to be, and a wife he’s pretty sure he’s never met. What could possibly go wrong?
There aren’t a lot of American-set historical romances, but if you’d like to explore this setting further, here are a few I’ve enjoyed over the years: