The Reluctant Widow
This book is the clear low point of my Heyer binge. Reading it was a chore, like trying to jog in thigh-deep water while someone kept promising it would get better a little further on. The premise – the heroine, Elinor, marries the hero Lord Carlyon’s dying cousin in order to ensure Lord Carlyon does NOT inherit the estate and endure accusations of greed – is silly, but I can work with silly. Unfortunately, what happens next is a labored mystery about a missing piece of the Duke of Wellington’s correspondence with so many stupid decisions by the characters that you start to wonder if this is a horror movie instead of a mystery. Without giving the details, it also has the most unsatisfactory ending of any mystery I’ve ever read.
I didn’t like any of the characters. A young cousin is inappropriately enthusiastic about everything, including accidentally killing the cousin and being shot, in wearyingly repetitive slang (everything is “bang up,” “capital sport,” and “famous”). Elinor constantly whines about the bizarre situation she’s been thrust into without actually doing anything about it, and Lord Carlyon is a smug know-it-all who takes no measures to protect Elinor in the face of the attempted and actual murders of supporting characters. His ego bubble isn’t even dinged by failing to prevent a blow to the head which knocks her unconscious because, and I quote, “I dare say your head aches sadly, but it is only a bruise.” Then he tells her he loves her on the last two pages.
Well, I wish them a very happy future of her whining at him and him shrugging it off. For my part, I’m happy to wash my hands of them.