Elinor sat up in bed, luxuriously sipping her chocolate, and wondering how many of the fantastic events of the precious day had had an existence only in her imagination. Her presence in this well-ordered household seemed to indicate that at least some of them had been real. She was unable to refrain from contrasting her present situation with what would have in all probability been her lot in Mrs. Macclefield’s house, and she would have been more than human if she had not enjoyed the very striking difference.”
The Reluctant Widow by Georgette Heyer is a lovely and thoroughly enjoyable read. Elinor Rochdale is at the wrong place, at the wrong time (or maybe, the right time) and ends up marrying the wealthy cousin of Ned Carlyon against her will and
reason, all the while questioning Carlyon’s sanity along with her own. Carlyon’s cousin ends up dead, but several loose ends “force” Elinor to remain with the family as she and Carlyon, with the help of is older and younger brother, the mysterious circumstances that that arise after her husband’s death.
With the starting premise pushing the edge of reason, this novel has the potential to go so very wrong. However interesting characters and a well thought out plot made this into a fun read from start to finish. I loved the authentic period language, detailed setting information, and the character’s conversation and interactions with each other. Carlyon’s younger brother and Elinor’s new cousin, Nicky, and his bumbling dog Bouncer are great comic relief, equally charming and frustrating with their grand plans and schemes throughout the book. I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for a good combination of mystery and period piece. Though this particular story is far from being a romance (it’s more of a mystery), Elinor and Ned are so entertaining with their intelligent bickering and playful chemistry that you wonder just if and when they will see the light and get it together.