The Reluctant Widow by Georgette Heyer

The Reluctant Widow by Georgette HeyerThe Reluctant Widow by Georgette Heyer
Published: Sourcebooks Casablanca (1946), eBook, 320pg
Source: Bought
Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romance

A fateful mistake...

When Elinor Rochdale boards the wrong coach, she ends up not at her prospective employer's home but at the estate of Eustace Cheviot, a dissipated and ruined young man on the verge of death.

A momentous decision...

His cousin, Mr Ned Carlyon, persuades Elinor to marry Eustace as a simple business arrangement. By morning, Elinor is a rich widow, but finds herself embroiled with an international spy ring, housebreakers, uninvited guests, and murder. And Mr Carlyon won't let her leave ...

The Reluctant Widow has a completely insane plot. Basically: The hero forces the heroine to marry his terrible brother, who then dies within, like, four chapters. And then the hero romances her! All while dodging house-breakers and spies and whatnot.

It’s hilarious and over-the-top. I loved it! The story only works because the characters are so great, though. If their personalities weren’t so strong that they practically clawed their way off the page, they’d have been lost under the wackadoo plot lines. Elinor, the heroine, is wonderfully brave and practical. Carlyon, the hero, is slightly annoying because he’s always right.1 Luckily people call him out on that because it’s super frustrating to always have the hero be an almost deus ex machina kind of person.

The Reluctant Widow is not JUST a romance. There’s a mystery as well! And it’s very well done and integral to the book. The mix of fun romantic elements and darker, almost gothic undertones was fantastic, and I had a super fun time reading it.

I wish all of GH’s mysteries were more like The Reluctant Widow, because I’m honestly having a hard time getting through one. Her characters are the same four types2 across her entire canon, no matter the year it’s set in, so it’s not anything to do with that. It’s more like the tone of her mysteries is more straight-forward and/or less funny than her romances, and so they’re less fun for me to read.

The Reluctant Widow, as I have said multiple times before, is a LOT of fun. It’s also a really good mystery. I’d definitely recommend it to those of you who a) love her romances but not her mysteries, or b) aren’t interested in her romances but love her mysteries. It’d work for both sets of people!

Read: June 5-6, 2014

  1. a GH trademark, tbh. And it’s ALWAYS a hero, never a heroine. I think it must be an alpha male thing, maybe?
  2. 1. Strong-minded alpha male with a mischievous streak.
    2. Strong-minded alpha female who loves bantering with alpha hero.
    3. Kind, chivalrous beta male who gets put into unlikely situations.
    4. Slightly bird-witted alpha female who loves putting beta hero into unlikely situations.

7 thoughts on “The Reluctant Widow by Georgette Heyer”

  1. Love it! I’ve only ever read “The Grand Sophie,” but this review makes me want to read more of Heyer’s books!
    Also, YES, your four GH character types fit perfectly with the characters in “The Grand Sophie”. (And also happen to correspond with many of Jane Austen’s characters… hmmmm…)

  2. I just read another Heyer mystery a couple of weeks ago and yes, it was the same formula — supremely unlikeable people, the murder of someone you really don’t care is dead, a couple of twists and turns and a surprise romance at the end. This was one of the few times that I actually saw it coming but it still really wasn’t expected. I agree that The Reluctant Widow is a much better mystery! I really like this one.

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