The Reluctant Widow – Georgette Heyer

Title: The Reluctant Widow
Author: Georgette Heyer
ISBN: 1402213514
Pages: 320
Release Date: October 1, 2008
Genre: Historical Fiction
Review: Sourcebooks, Inc.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

From the back cover:

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 monumentous 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…

Though I am a huge fan of historical fiction, I’ve never read anything by Georgette Heyer. I’ve heard a lot of good things about her so I was glad when I heard hear books were being re-released. When Danielle from Sourcebooks, Inc. (the publishing company that is re-releasing Heyer’s works) contacted me and asked me if I’d like to review some novels, I jumped at the chance.

I honestly didn’t know what to expect when I opened up The Reluctant Widow. I was apprehensive that the book would be difficult to read and wouldn’t be able to hold my attention – imagine my surprise, then, when the first time I looked up from the novel, I was a quarter of the way through it! The Reluctant Widow is very captivating and funny; I was hooked from the very first page. The story took its time to unfold, but dropped enough tantalizing hints to keep me extremely interested in the plot.

The characters are also wonderfully written and charming. I absolutely loved Elinor – she was witty, funny, and smart, everything we’ve come to expect from an Austen heroine. Indeed, many aspects of the book reminded me of the Jane Austen novels I have come to know and love. Ned Carlyon was also a great personage; his affability and charm really were as apparent to me as if I had been standing with him in the pages of the book.

One word of caution to readers – this is not a historical romance. Though Heyer is known for her romances, she also wrote straight historical fiction; The Reluctant Widow is an example of this. The main storyline of the book is the intrigue that surrounds the house of Eustace Cheviot; there is little to no romance in the book.

One more thing – I know this seems inane, but I loved the feel of this book. The pages were thicker and heavier than usual, which gave the book some gravitas, some weight. It’s obvious that Sourcebooks took great care with publishing these books.

I’d highly recommend The Reluctant Widow to any Austen fans, or anyone who enjoys historical fiction. If you are looking for romance, I’d definitely look at some of Heyer’s other titles. To learn more about the Georgette Heyer books that Sourcebooks, Inc. has re-released, visit Austen Fans. I have to give a huge thank you to Danielle for sending me this book to review – I can’t wait to read the next one!


  1. I totally know what you mean about the feel of the book! I don’t know exactly what I prefer but some books you just hold and it’s wonderful!

  2. Hi, Krishna,

    The Reluctant Widow is not one of my favorite Heyer titles. You would class it as a Traditional Regency Romance. Georgette Heyer pretty much invented the genre. There is even a yahoogroup (usually with a waiting list) for devotees of Georgette Heyer!

    If you prefer more romance (although Georgette Heyer never opened the bedroom door when both hero and heroine were in bed, I’d recommend These Old Shades, Devil’s Cub, A Convenient Marriage, and Regency Buck.

    If you like Georgette Heyer, you might also like Mary Jo Putney and Jo Beverley.

  3. Oh I love Georgette Heyer! “The Masqueraders” is my favorite by her so far. I got her “Frederica” from the library recently but I haven’t had time to read it because I’m trying to finish Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke before I have to take it back to the library.

    Great review!

  4. I’ve never read anything by Hyer before but this sounds really good!!! I just added it to my wishlist TBR pile.

  5. I also received this book to review. I like historical romance and fiction. Thanks for another great review.

  6. Nice review — thanks! I haven’t read this one yet.

  7. Glad to hear it’s a good book. I’ve received this as well, but haven’t had a chance to read it yet. Great review!

    Diary of an Eccentric

  8. I just found out that i can get this book, at a very cool price šŸ™‚ Thanks- I love historical fiction :):)

  9. I enjoyed this one as well.

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