Elinor Rochdale is rather surprised that her new employer is quite rich, and more so at the decayed grandeur of the house to which she is transported. Realizing that there has been a case of mistaken identity, she nevertheless agrees to an audacious plan and is swept into a dangerous adventure. Overnight, Elinor becomes mistress of a ruined estate. By midnight she is a bride, by dawn a widow...
I’ve never before read a Georgette Heyer novel, perhaps because they are usually found within the historical romance section, where I don’t often go. But reading the description of The Reluctant Widow left me desperate to give this author a try. And am I ever glad I did.
As the story begins we are introduced to Elinor Rochdale, a woman whose family has fallen into shame, which has forced her to find employment. Setting out on a journey to her employer’s estate, a mix-up occurs and she finds herself at the home of Eustace Cheviot. But he is at death’s door and it is his cousin who speaks with her of the arrangements. An arrangement that would require her to marry the dying Eustace. Caught off guard Elinor finds herself swept into a mysterious plot to save the family estate and the secrets it holds.
The Reluctant Widow reminds me much of a classic mystery tale, with the plot moving at an increasingly frantic pace, filled with quirky characters and comic mishaps. I found the characters to be the shining spot in this story, especially Elinor. With witty comments and an intelligent yet sarcastic demeanour she displays an independent spirit, not what I expected from a historical heroine. The two main male characters are also extremely likable, Carlyon is charmingly aloof and his younger brother Nicky is a mischievous but lovable pain in the butt.
Georgette Heyer has written a marvellous mystery, that may at times seem obvious, but pulls the reader along with well-placed plot points, humorous dialogue and secondary characters that appear only briefly but leave a lasting impression. I am entirely pleased with my reading of The Reluctant Widow and intend to venture into more of the writings of Georgette Heyer.
About The Author
Georgette Heyer, born in London in 1902, had her first novel published when she was nineteen years old and continued to write novels of many genres for more than fifty years. During that time she never made a public appearance or granted an interview. The great majority of her books are historical romances set in Regency England. They are admired to this day for the meticulous research and profusion of essential ingredients - arranged marriages, murder, fashion, upper classes, sarcasm and humour. Indeed, Heyer set the tone for this entire genre. When she died in 1974 she had fifty-one titles in print, legal translations of her work in ten languages and pirate editions in several others.
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca
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