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The Reluctant Widow

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  5,726 Ratings  ·  539 Reviews
Georgette Heyer is best known for her witty and charming Regency romances, but she is also responsible for a handful of mystery novels. On occasion, mystery would find its way into her romances, embroiling her well-born heroes and heroines in adventures that were alternately chilling and hilarious.

In The Reluctant Widow, Elinor Rochdale, a young woman of good birth but st
ebook, 320 pages
Published October 1st 2008 by Sourcebooks Casablanca (first published 1946)
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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Elinor, our genteel-but-fallen-on-hard-times heroine, is on her way to a dubious governessing job when she accidentally gets into the carriage of Lord Carlyon, a man expecting a woman for a very different job: to marry his dissolute and dying cousin Eustace. His reasons are barely plausible, but this is one of those cases where you just have to roll with it. Elinor doesn't think this sounds like a great idea, but when Eustace gets mortally injured in a fight with Carlyon's reckless young brother ...more
Dec 05, 2011 Hannah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An absolutely charming Heyer regency romance, and now my personal favorite of those I've read (even better then The Corinthian and Friday's Child, IMO).

The fact that this book ticked off some of my favorite reader boxes probably has alot to do with why this one was so appealing to me:

- An old Jacobean manor house, complete with hidden passages, paneled walls, and mullioned windows. Be still, my crappy, apartment-bound heart....

- An entirely lovable, undisciplined canine named "Bouncer", who was
The pairing: Older Supposedly Sensible Heroine/Masterful All-Knowing Calm As You Please Hero

Supporting Cast: High Spirited Younger Brother, The Deceptively Weak Dandy that one "cannot quite like", Romantic Older Friend of Heroine, Motivationlessly Evil Relative, Exposition Providing Brother

The Plot: Supposedly Sensible Heroine marries Motivationlessly Evil Relative on his death bed (which he's brought to after an accidental wound in a fight with High Spirited Young Relative) because All Knowing
Andrea (Catsos Person) is a Compulsive eBook Hoarder
This was probably a 3-star read and not comparable those of Georgette Heyer's romances that are now among my favorites such as Sylvester, Cotillion, or Devil's Cub and others.

However, the marriage proposal/declaration of love scene (that I've marked in my kindle) is one of the sweetest I've ever read in recent memory.

Note to self: Francis Cheviot is introduced in ch 13. Ha
Carol ♔Type, Oh Queen!♕

This fast paced yarn full of wonderfully engaging characters only just fell short of 5 stars, because the original premise was so unlikely. But once you get over that the story moves along at a cracking pace, with GH's trademark witty dialogue. & another dog as an entertaining minor character. Why are her dogs dull in her mysteries but full of life in her historicals? & I love young Nicky so much!

As usual, highly recommended!
Ruth Turner

Another of my least favourite Heyer books, with a bland romance being a side issue of the main story.

My laugh out loud moments were to do with Bouncer, the dog, and the various conversations that were had with him.

Beautifully written, as always, and with interesting characters, except for our romantic couple.

And, for all those reviewers who noted the overuse of the word “odious”, I counted them for you. It didn’t overly bother me, but for those who wish to know it was used 27 times. Three times
Abigail Bok
Jul 05, 2015 Abigail Bok rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lady of fashion turned governess Elinor Rochdale gets into the wrong carriage on her way to her next post. She finds herself pitched into high drama, with a fatal barroom fight, sinister housebreakers, and French spies. The story is delightfully absurd, and a lot of the humor of the book arises from the commonsense ordinariness of the characters when faced with such melodramatic events.

A number of Georgette Heyer’s books feature what I would call an “angry” heroine, and usually I find those hero
This is one of the Heyers that both works and doesn't work for me. I like the story I think Heyer is _trying_ to convey, but think that her intention and what appears on the page doesn't quite match up. Elinor is clearly meant to be frequently sarcastic, and equal to the challenges that come her way, but she is so tangled up in how she is expected to behave (proper and full of sensibility and completely unable to show any hint of self-worth) that she comes across a good deal more flustered than ...more
This was my second time through this story and I have to say this author's work stands the test of time and re-reading. I appreciated it more than I did in the first place.

I saw more humor and wit than I did the first time around. I saw the subtle hints of romance where I didn't see the evidence of it before and I was most struck by one of the more dubious characters in the story, Frances Cheviot.

The story is most definitely old school Regency Romance at its best with a tinge of the Gothic to it
What a charming addition to my Georgette Heyer collection!

The Reluctant Widow was a bit of a departure from the silly/sweet Regency-type romance Heyer is known for. Part gothic (crumbling old mansion, secret passage ways, intruders in the night), it delightfully reads like a Nancy Drew mystery for adults. Throw in a few suspicious and colorful characters who may or may not be spies for Wellington and Bonaparte, a lovable and slightly goofy mutt who provided lots of chuckles, and you have a real
Odious, odious, odious!

I had such high expectations for this book, I am so disappointed. I really didn't like anything about it. I read some really glowing reviews and was so excited to find a book that seemed like it was something I would love.

I didn't care for the writing, the mystery, the characters, or the so-called love interest or romance portion of the story. In fact I thought the whole story was ridiculous. And the repetition of the word odious was very annoying.

I so wished this had be
Impoverished governess Elinor accidentally boards not the carriage sent by her employer, but one that takes her to an isolated mansion. There, a high-handed but handsome man named Lord Carlyon requests her help: to assure that scandal does not attach to his family, he needs a woman to marry his dying cousin and receive his estate. Elinor agrees, and by the next morning finds that she is a widow and the sole owner of a dilapidated house and her late husband's debts. Lord Carlyon assures her that ...more
Nina {ᴡᴏʀᴅs ᴀɴᴅ ᴡᴀᴛᴇʀ}
Re-read 31st Oct. Originally read in 2011.

"I must not listen to you!" Elinor
said, much shaken. "Oh, it is the
most ridiculous thing! You only met
me a week ago, and then you con-
strained me to marry your horrid
"It is a fortunate thing that I did
not know you better, for if I had I
should certainly never have done so."
She uttered a laugh that broke in
the middle; "Odious, odious man!"
"I depend on you to teach me to
be less odious. 1 shall be very happy
to learn of you."

Another sleep deprived d
You'd think I'd remember how much glee Georgette Heyer's books can bring me, but I really hadn't expected to enjoy this one so much. The romance is sort of annoying in that it comes somewhat out of the blue -- I mean, knowing the genre, you see it coming, but not why the couple would feel all that intensely about each other by that point.

I do love all the characters, though: ridiculous Nicky and his dog, Ned and his way of being able to talk anyone into anything and make it seem natural besides
Jacob Proffitt
Sep 15, 2015 Jacob Proffitt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romance, owned
The characterizations in this book are subtle and depend a lot on the reader understanding Regency manners and expectations. Elinor's character, in particular, includes a lot of subversive things that make little sense if you only account for her overt statements and actions. Her twitting of Ned and playing on the gothic tropes common in the day are clear indicators of a lively sense of humor and a willingness to step outside of convention, even if her situation doesn't leave a lot of room for d ...more
Dec 05, 2013 Leah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So it turns out I'm actually quite fond of romance! Having read somewhere that Heyer's regency romances are really more like wild adventure stories wrapped in tacky bodice-buster covers, I found a pile at a secondhand sale and stashed them away. I'm so glad I finally got around to trying one, because this genuinely was wonderful.

Elinor Rochdale descends despondently from the station, expecting a poor carriage to meet her and take her on to her odious post as a governess to two spoiled brats in r
Melissa McShane
Maybe it was my mood, maybe it was the constant interruptions to reading, but I just didn't like this as well as I did the first time. Heyer wrote a handful of suspense/romance novels, of which this is one, so the plot is about espionage and stuff, with the romance as a secondary (even incidental) element. Since I didn't go into this looking for a straightforward romance, that wasn't a disappointment. What I didn't like was that the suspense part of the plot wasn't very strong. It wasn't hard to ...more
The Reluctant Widow has a very gothic setting since the majority of the action is set in a house that makes our heroine think of phrases such as "decayed grandeur" and "depressing dilapidation" when she sets foot in it, which she never would have had to do had she not mistakenly gotten into the wrong coach when she arrived in the village of Billingshurst. Because of this one innocent mistake Elinor Rochdale instead of finding herself at the end of her journey in Mrs. Macclesfield's establishment ...more
Jul 23, 2015 kris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Elinor Rochdale is just trying to be a governess when she is mistakenly taken to meet Lord Carlyon who is awaiting a woman who answered his advertisement to marry Mr. Eustace Cheviot, a repulsive drunk. Elinor is not quite what he was expecting but then Ned always makes do, so he convinces her to marry the mortally wounded Eustace. By morning, she's in mourning. Except now there's a good chance that in addition to being very suddenly a widow, Elinor is also going to have to deal with French spie ...more
Pauline Ross
This was published in 1946, a fairly classic Heyer, with a most intriguing plot. Elinor Rochdale, a young woman of good birth but straitened circumstances, sets out to accept a position as a governess. When she inadvertently steps into the wrong carriage at the coach stop, she finds herself conveyed to the estate of one Ned Carlyon. Carlyon believes Elinor to be the young woman he hired to marry his dying cousin, Eustace Cheviot, in order to avoid inheriting Cheviot's estate himself. Somehow, El ...more
Feb 07, 2014 sylph rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-audiobooks
My five-star rating is for the audiobook, specifically. You see, I have read all of Georgette Heyer's Georgian/Regency era stories, and have a list color-coded according to my enjoyment of them. The Reluctant Widow is green, which would translate to four stars. Probably three and a half, but I didn't use that many colors. But the audiobook? Is really super. It transforms the decently enjoyable story into a hilarious farce that I listened to almost non-stop for the whole nine and a half hours whi ...more
Jan 04, 2015 Ririn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
the first time i read this book was in 1998, during my school time. i didn't realize at the time that the writer of this book was the famous georgette heyer ( i don't how this happen). the book make such an impression on me that i still remembered it after all these years. i can still remember the title and the name of the main characters and the storyline ( but not the writer). i am so shocked when i searched for 'the reluctant widow' and found out that it was one of georgette heyer books. no w ...more
Kitty (I solemnly swear that I am up to no good)
Going through a shameful phase of Georgette Heyer! I can't help it, I just love the romantic, page turning, twisty, fun plots!

The Reluctant Widow follows our heroine Elinor Rochdale, a lady, who due to her fathers fall from grace and subsequent suicide, is forced to work as a governess. However when she gets into what she supposed was her carriage to fulfil her engagement of work, she is surprised by a gentleman with an unlikely offer...

Worth a read if you feel like something fun, romantic and m
Lynne Tull
Sep 12, 2015 Lynne Tull rated it really liked it
Shelves: regency-romance
I always love to read a Georgette Heyer story. She is the Queen of the historical romance (IMHO). Whenever I want a break from the modern historical romance stories, I turn to her stories. This was a fun one with some fun characters and of course, a happily ever after ending. I think I'll read another 'Heyer' story...soon!
This was a bit too plotty for me, I think. I guess I followed everything, but I wasn't very into secret papers and villains and all.

But the characters were a lot of fun! Including the dog, of course!
Susan Ferguson
Needed to take a break. Just finished a serious history and wanted some fun reading. I love Georgette Heyer - fun plots, fun characters,good dialogue. This is one of my favorites.
A governess gets picked up from a stagecoach stop bythe wrong carriage and is plunged into a Bonaparte treason plot!
Very enjoyable. Cornelius Garrett has excellent accents and voices for the different characters.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Seema Khan
3.85* for this Georgette Heyer endeavour because I didn't get what I was expecting out of the book.
Firstly, lets begin with the cover. I have an Arrow Publication edition which has a Charles Haigh-Wood painting titled 'Waiting'. I absolutely loved this cover, it is beautiful. Reminded me of my childhood days in my grandparents' home and gave me a nostalgic feel.
Coming to the story, its not an out and out romantic story, but rather a mystery and suspense story entwining romantic elements in the m
Susan in Perthshire
Jul 05, 2015 Susan in Perthshire rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
I am always surprised each time that I am surprised - that readers' opinions about GH books vary so much. I mean one star!!! But I always am - surprised I mean.
In my humble opinion (shared by the millions who have read all her books) GH excelled in writing excellent stories that combined romance, humour, mystery and provided 'a jolly good read'. Her use of the English Language is skilled and imaginative; her ear for dialogue: whether witty and humorous, or dark and dramatic is impeccable and he
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  • Georgette Heyer's Regency World
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  • The Parfit Knight (Rockliffe, #1)
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Georgette Heyer was a prolific historical romance and detective fiction novelist. Her writing career began in 1921, when she turned a story for her younger brother into the novel The Black Moth.

In 1925 she married George Ronald Rougier, a mining engineer, and he often provided basic plot outlines for her thrillers. Beginning in 1932, Heyer released one romance novel and one thriller each year.

More about Georgette Heyer...

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“Crawley, I do trust that you have rung that bell, for if I stand in this disagreeable wind you know I shall take cold, and my colds always descend upon my chest. How thoughtless it was in you to have handed me down from the chaise until the door had been opened! Ah, here is that deplorable henchman! Yes, Barrow, it is I indeed. Take my hat – no, Crawley had best take my hat, perhaps. And yet, if he does so, who is to assist me out of my greatcoat? How difficult all these arrangements are! Ah, a happy thought! You have laid my hat down, Crawley! I do not know where I should be without you. Now my coat, and pray be careful! Where is a mirror? Crawley, you cannot have been so foolish as to have packed all my hand-mirrors! No I thought not: hold it a little higher, I beg of you, and give me my comb! Yes, that will serve, Barrow, you may announce me to your mistress!” 11 likes
“You will be a widow before the morning.” 7 likes
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