Historical fiction is a big part of our homeschool. I believe that reading historical fiction greatly enhances both our understanding of history as well as our retention of facts from history.
That being said, you would be surprised how that flame got lit. It started long before I ever had children, long before I ever got married. In high school I had a history teacher who used historical fiction to teach. We would learn about a topic from the textbook, but we also had to read one historical fiction book from each unit.