Georgette Heyer's writing is almost always excellent. She wrote in several genres, and The Reluctant Widow, although apparently a Regency
romance, containes many elements that remind the reader that Heyer also wrote mysteries. The story revolves around Elinor Rochdale, a young woman who boards the wrong coach and finds herself in the middle of a strange family drama. Eustace Cheviot, a dissipated and troubled young man, is dying; Elinor
is persuaded to marry him so that she can inherit from him when he dies. The persuader is Eustace's cousin Ned Carlyon, a rather enigmatic if friendly figure.
After Elinor agrees to the marriage, she finds herself a widow by the next morning - and then discovers that someone is trying to break into her new home. Aided (or possibly abetted) by Ned's younger brother, Nicky, and his rather overeager dog, finding hidden staircases and dealing with various uninvited houseguests, Elinor
becomes embroiled in an international spy ring.
There are no real surprises in this story - it's more of a great romp with various semi-gothic events in the unusual house. The hero can be slightly frustrating as he keeps things close to his chest, and the romance is really
secondary to the story, but it's a very enjoyable tale with Heyer's usual quality
prose and historical research enhancing the feel of the story. Those who enjoyed
The Talisman Ring will no doubt also love The Reluctant Widow.