The Reluctant Widow
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The Reluctant Widow

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  3,683 ratings  ·  341 reviews
A sparkling Regency romance with intrigue and excitement, from the queen of the genre. Eleanor Rochdale finds herself married and widowed within 24 hours, and embroiled in an international spy ring, housebreakers, and murder.
ebook, 320 pages
Published October 1st 2008 by Sourcebooks Casablanca (first published 1946)
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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...more
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...more
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...more
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...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
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...more
Melissa Proffitt
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
This another of Georgette Heyer's delightfully funny books. Through a series of improbable events Ned Carlyon comes to talk Elinor Rochdale into marrying a dying man and inheriting his estate. She is beset by an internatinal spy ring, housebreakers, uninvited guests, a large dog, etc. The dialogue reminds me of the snappy dialogue in movies of the 1940s such as the Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn romantic comedies. At one point Elinor complains of her fate:

'Good hands?' gasped the affronted...more
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...more
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
I always enjoy Georgette Heyer novels and more often than not, some less than more. Reluctant Widow is a novel that started off strongly in my opinion with a plot not all too commonplace but suffered towards the end with a somewhat improbable and rather lackluster ending.

Our Heroine Elinor while on her way to her new post as a Governess somehow mislays her way and is coerced into wedding Carlyon's dying cousin, becoming a widow the next day. The reasons behind this rush marriage are pretty much...more
On her way to take up a governess position, Elinor Rochdale gets into the wrong carriage; she arrives at an isolated country house, where she meets Lord Carlyon, who manages to persuade her to marry his ailing cousin Eustace, who's soon to die. His death precipitates Elinor, Carlyon, and Carlyon's younger brother Nicky into an adventure involving murder, espionage, and secret passages.

I thought the romance could have been made more of; it's very understated, and the hero and heroine are certain...more
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!
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
Jane Stewart
3 ½ stars. A strange and different plot. It’s a nice change with a different quality from so much other current day writing.

I liked it. The dialogue and characters are richer than I’m used to. The plot was good. It’s not a common story. She reluctantly got married for Ned’s purpose of making her the widow. Their interactions felt fresh (even though this was written a long time ago). Elinor is annoyed that so many bad things are happening to her and she is at risk. Yet Ned calm...more
I have re-read this book so often, I've lost track of how many times altogether over the years. It has all the sparkling dialog that Heyer is famous for, a host of delightful characters, and lots of atmosphere. Although it is a Regency, the setting (a moldering house in the countryside) is far from the glittering ballrooms and Ton lifestyle. The heroine, Elinor Rochdale, is not a young miss about to be launched into Society; she is a self-sufficient woman in her twenties, well-bred but down on h...more
Having just read Devil's Cub by Georgette Heyer and enjoying it enormously I decided to go straight into another read by the author. The Reluctant Widow in comparison has more of a mystery/suspense plot than romance, with the romance only unfolding in the last few pages of the story. It was a good novel though, with great characters and Heyer's ever-present humorous happenings. I was able to reason out some of the plot however which detracted a bit from the enjoyment, so I do not put the The Rel...more
As my housemate says, the lives of the gentility during the Regency Era are lives of utter frivolity. This, frankly, is what makes Georgette Heyer perfect escapist literature! Utter frivolity + perfect posture + keen sensory details + absolutely absurd plots is basically the best bath reading ever.

In this novel, you will face Insufferable Male Protagonists who seem to always know exactly what to do, even when there is absolutely no rational reason why that choice is the right one. You will fin...more
Dec 31, 2008 Emily rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of 1940s period comedies, Austen, the Brontes
Recommended to Emily by: Jane Austen Today
Heyer writes in such a fluid, witty 1940s-way that I enjoyed this and Faro's Daughter very much. My one complaint (and this is more a reflection of my tastes than a criticism of her talent) is that I keep wishing the love stories would be dropped from the plots. In Faro's Daughter, it did work naturally into the plot, but it seemed a bit forced and tacked on here. The basic assumption (which I realize I should be working from) is that it is natural for hero and heroine to get together, but I kep...more
Georgette Heyer wrote romances, but her Regency romances bear more comparison to Jane Austen than to today's bodice rippers. I first came across her writing at the Lifeline Theater in Chicago, where at least two of her book's and their witty dialogue and elaborate and fanciful plots have been turned into plays. So I was ecstatic to come across six ratty copies of her books at a recent book sale and have quickly finished The Reluctant Widow. Elinor Rochdale, whose aristocratic father left her des...more
Feb 02, 2014 Joan rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: romance readers
Recommended to Joan by: June Krell
This was ridiculous escapist literature, but was just what I needed the last couple of days! I read Heyer a long time ago and thought I was through with her but someone recommended this enough I put it on my list. This one started with the heroine getting into the wrong coach on her way to her new position. I noticed this time around that Heyer definitely has her tongue in cheek for some of this. She can't (pronounced cahhnt, don't you know) be taking this seriously. In its own way it is really...more
Jacob Proffitt
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
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
Georgette Heyer is the author I go to, in book form or audio, when I need something well-written, with beautiful prose and a vocabulary that stimulates the brain. I also enjoy her humor. In The Reluctant Widow, we see a slightly different side of Heyer's humor, at times sarcastic and definitely understated. The Reluctant Widow could be better classified a mystery than a romance, but the characters are still delightful, and the ending is satisfyingly sweet.As always, Cornelius Garret does an exem...more
Amy S
My first Heyer. A lot of fun. Thanks to Hannah for her review which prompted me to try it out. Enjoyed the characters, and of course since I am a romantic wish there was a tad more on the romance side but still enjoyed it. My only complaint was the constant use of the word "odious." I often found myself wishing she had a thesaurus nearby. I also sometimes wondered which speech patterns were circa the regency area and which were 1940s? interesting. Now I have to find another from this author. Any...more
I think this may be one of my favorite Heyer books for a few reasons. First, the plot is ridiculous with impromptu marriages, hidden passageways, and scandal that are explained in ways that seem perfectly normal. Second, there is a big mystery (which is not just "who will fall in love with whom"). and Third the hero and heroine actually have a lot of time to be together and to get to know each other before they fall in love as they try to figure out the criminal plot that has taken over their li...more
This book gets a solid three stars from me. It kept my interest and several of the characters were very likable. My biggest problem with the book? "Odious"... why did the main character have to use this word in almost every sentence? It seriously got really annoying to read! But, with that said, there were definitely some funny parts in this book and, although the story in general was a bit unbelievable, I enjoyed the ending. :)
Andrea Lundgren
The first time I read it, I found it enjoyable--another amusing, frothy piece of Heyeresque literature, this one with a mystery.

The second time through, I was much less forgiving. The heroine is very vexing. She complains, and laments, and bickers, and yet the perfect, unflappable, commanding hero falls for her (he felt a bit like Mr. Fogg from Verne's "Around the World in 80 Days"--so perfect). There are many Heyer novels that depict characters like them in a much better, more interesting light...more
Nov 04, 2013 June rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Heyer fans
Recommended to June by: Polly
Shelves: adult, romance, mystery
Elinor gets on the wrong coach and finds herself talked into marrying a dying man and becomes a rich widow by the next morning. However, this is not all it was cracked up to be, because her ex-husband was involved in an international spy ring and she finds herself having to deal with uninvited guests, housebreakers and murder...
Kylara Jensen
Another Heyer that I enjoyed reading. Nothing about this book stands out as really good or really bad.

I do like the whole spy/intrigue element. That is new and interesting.

I think I had some problems with the male lead and the romance.

Elinor was actually a very likable, very sensible character. I like how practical she is. that being said, I don't understand her hesitation to become the widow. I guess there are just some things off about her character. IS she too practical, too prideful, too im...more
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Georgette Heyer was an amazingly prolific writer who created the Regency England genre of romance novels.

Georgette Heyer was an intensely private person. A best-seller all her life without the aid of publicity, she made no appearances, never gave an interview, and only answered fan letters herself if they made an interesting historical point. Heyer wrote very well-researched historical fiction, fu...more
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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!” 9 likes
“You will be a widow before the morning.” 4 likes
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