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LindaHilton

Linda Hilton

Reader, Writer, Merciless Reviewer and Incurable Romantic

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The Willful Widow (Signet Regency Romance) - Evelyn Richardson Disclaimer: I own a paperback copy of this book. I do not know the author nor have I had any communication with her regarding this book or any other. I am an author of historical romances.

I'm not familiar enough with the conventions of the Regency romance sub-genre to comment on the details. The book did have plenty of what seemed to be period slang, and some details of fashions and London society. None were overpowering.

There were plot elements I found particularly refreshing. The heroine, Lady Diana Haverill, has been widowed a sufficient time to begin re-entering society. Though she has not been left penniless, her financial picture is described as somewhat precarious. Her husband left her a comfortable townhouse in London, and her father, a marquess, left her a country estate. (I'm not sure quite how that happened, or what happened to the title in the absence of a direct male heir. That never came up in the story.)

Lady Diana has attracted the attention of young Reginald St. Clair, heir to the Earl of Winterbourne. The earl is not desirous that his son take up with an impoverished widow and so sends his (the earl's) younger brother, Justin St. Clair, to break up the relationship. And the expected happens, of course.

As such, this would have been an enjoyable tale of two people starting off on the wrong foot and struggling to overcome differences and misunderstandings. There were two elements that kept me from enjoying it.

The first was the writing. I don't mind head-hopping POV shifts at all. In fact, I enjoy getting all the different camera angles, as it were, and knowing how various characters in a given scene are thinking and reacting. What I don't care for -- and which may in fact be a convention of the traditional Regency sub-genre -- were the long paragraphs of narrative telling me about the characters. I wanted more interaction, more dialogue. Indeed, I wanted more angst. There just seemed to be not very much emotional interaction between the characters.

The second problem I had was with the other women in the story.

Lady Diana is ravishingly beautiful, independent and strong, highly intelligent and highly educated as the only child of a stereotypical absent-minded aristocratic scholar. She's . . . . perfect. She has no flaws at all.

Justin St. Clair, the second son, has made his own fortune and his own way in the world. He, too, is perfect. Devastatingly handsome, well-educated, world-traveled, on and on and on. He has a bunch of friends who love him, respect him, admire him. He can do no wrong. He's . . . . . perfect.

Well, except for one thing. He has a mistress, a dancer. And even after striking up a chaste, somewhat acrimonious relationship with the heroine, Justin continues to see and have sex with Suzette. Although the sex isn't described, it's very clearly alluded to, and while I'm sure this was accurate to the historical period, it made me uncomfortable. In fact, it is after an evening of passionate sex with Suzette and while he is still essentially in her bed that Justin realizes he loves Diana. And it's Suzette who tells him it's okay to be in love and encourages him to leave her and go to Diana. I felt as if the discussion of Justin's prowess as a lover in the relationship with Suzette could have and should have been used to explore his feelings toward Diana, but then that's just me.

Then there's the "other woman," Lady Blanche Howard. Lady Blanche isn't really fleshed out much; she's pretty one dimensional -- beautiful and greedy. As a villainess, she was pretty flimsy and I felt could have been better developed.

The third female character who played a big role in the story was Aunt Seraphina. Here was a woman, a very wealthy widow, who could have been used to develop the other characters so much more, and she kind of fell flat. In fact, I think more attention was paid to the characterization of Boney than to Seraphina.

All in all, it was an okay story that I thought just could have been better written to be more exciting and romantic. Oh, well. You win some, you lose some.