What a Widow Wants
What a Widow Wants is the third installment in Jenna Jaxon’s Widows’ Club series, but the first that I’ve read. From what I understand, the novels in this series run parallel to one another, making it possible to read them in whatever order the reader chooses.
Lady Fanny Tarkington has no problem living life as a widow. Her marriage was not at all a happy one, since her husband seemed to find it impossible to remain faithful to her, so learning that he had been killed at the Battle of Waterloo was no great loss for her. She’s been going through the motions of a mourning period, fantasizing about what her life will be like once the restrictions of mourning are finally lifted, deciding never to marry again, and instead to find a suitable lover. She is not at all concerned with what society will think of her choices, choosing instead to enjoy the freedoms widowhood grants her.
Lord Matthew Lathbury has been in love with Fanny for the past ten years or so. He fell hard for her before her marriage, and even had a brief liaison with her while she was married. His friends and family encouraged him to find someone else, but Matthew preferred to wait for the day when Fanny would be free to become his wife. Now that she’s about to be out of mourning, Matthew is eager to propose marriage to her, thinking all of his dreams will soon be realized.
When Matthew and Fanny are reunited at the end of her mourning period, Matthew does indeed propose to her, but Fanny refuses, saying she is unwilling to marry again. Instead, she proposes that they become lovers, something Matthew isn’t at all happy about. Still, he agrees, secretly planning to do everything in his power to convince her to marry him sooner rather than later.
What follows is an angst-ridden story that frustrated me on a number of levels. First off, Fanny is an extremely unlikable heroine, and I honestly couldn’t figure out what Matthew saw in her. She’s incredibly selfish, never considering how her actions might affect Matthew or anyone else in her sphere. She’s a grown woman with a young daughter, but her behavior often put me in mind of a young lady just out of the schoolroom. I wanted to see her grow up and realize that the world didn’t revolve around her, but that never happened. Ms. Jaxon does attempt to give readers some insight into Fanny’s abominable behavior, but I didn’t find the explanations she came up with to be at all convincing.
I liked Matthew quite a bit more than Fanny, but even he ended up getting on my nerves, mooning around after her like a lovesick fool, and seeming not to care that she treats him like dirt. He is constantly making excuses for the way Fanny behaves, but I got the distinct impression he was trying to convince himself that she was a much better person than she turned out to be. Even when he had had enough of the way she treats him, he doesn’t handle things like a mature gentleman should, and instead, he resorts to trying to make her jealous, hoping she will realize that she cares for him after all. Given that this is a romance, she does eventually see the error of her ways, but it was a serious case of too little too late for me.
There is also a very predictable subplot involving Fanny’s daughter Ella. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who might decide to give this novel a try, so I’ll just say I saw the whole thing coming from about the third chapter. It could have served as a wonderful way to unite Matthew and Fanny, but Ms. Jaxon didn’t choose to go in that direction.
What a Widow Wants contains quite a few more sex scenes than I was expecting. This normally wouldn’t be a problem, but I sometimes felt the author was using the bedroom scenes simply to increase her page count. They didn’t do much to move the story forward, and I eventually started skimming through them.
The immature heroine and foolish hero make it a book I cannot recommend, and I suggest historical romance fans give it a pass in favour of something else.
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I'm Shannon from Michigan. I've been an avid reader all my life. I adore romance, psychological fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and the occasional memoir. I share my home with my life partner, two dogs, and a very feisty feline.