Did I ever tell you I once had a classmate think I was a pole dancer? Granted, this was in elementary school and the classmate was an 11-year-old boy who knew nothing about the world. If I hadn't been the "innocent" girl in the class, perhaps rumors would have spread like butter on bread and the idea that I was a pole dancer would have been set in stone for the rest of my career at the Christian School I attended.
As it was, I continued to be "innocent" and too pure to be included in most of the juicy conversations.
Have you ever had a rumor spread about you? How many people believed it before you got it back under control? Did you ever get it back under control or do people still believe the rumor to this day?
In The Widow of Rose House, juicy rumors are spread by Alva Webster's abusive husband about what she was doing when she left him. Having sex one the side. Having sex with more than one person at once. Having sex with women! According to the newspapers, Alva Webster has done it all.
Now that her husband has died, the most infamous widow on more than one continent has returned to her first home: New York. She has bought a house she once stumbled upon in childhood (while pretending to be the Beauty of Beauty and the Beast) and she plans to write a book and include pictures from the house's renovation within the pages. In fact, she even has a contract that is based on her deceased husband's name (in the hopes that the name will sell books) and the fact that the book is aimed at the masses and not at the elite.
The only problem: the house is haunted.
In fact, it may even be haunted by multiple ghosts because each person seems to have a different tale of what they saw when the ghost came to them.
Now Alva's work crew won't work, her book due date is quickly approaching, and her deceased husband's twin brother is trying to blackmail her for half her remaining fortune with the knowledge that could make it seem as though she killed her husband.
Fortunately, she may just have a trump card: a good-looking, charming (and famous) inventor, Samuel Moore who just happens to want to study her house because of his interest in ghosts. Working with him might just solve all her problems. And perhaps bring a little love into her life.
The Widow of Rose House is an excellent book. Somehow it was not quite what I was expecting (though it is exactly what it says it is). I read the blurb on Goodreads and bought the book in my recent purchase of a number of books off of ThriftBooks (to maintain my Literati status and use two free books!). The book seemed intriguing and seemed to include a number of the things I enjoy in a historical fiction book: a female character who stands up for herself, a setting in the 1800s (I don't know why this century always draws me but it does), mystery and intrigue, and romance.
I think I expected a little bit more mystery than is present in the book. Don't get me wrong, there is certainly some mystery but the blurb implies mystery, intrigue, and spookiness. One might avoid the book after reading the blurb if they are afraid of ghosts or don't enjoy reading spooky books. DON'T!
This book isn't at all spooky. In fact, the feeling I got from the book the majority of the time was humor. The book does deal with abuse but does it incredibly well giving the protagonist (who is the one who's been abused) someone funny, kind, and caring to help her through her pain and guide her to acceptance, renewal, and allowing herself to be loved and to love again. Throughout the book, you get a sense of the kind of beautiful healthy family the love interest has (which actually reminds me of my own family). Better yet, there is constant banter and humor between the protagonist and the love interest.
This actually was my favorite part of the book. Probably because it felt so real. There was never forced banter. Much of the humor was the love interest's (Samuel Moore) ability to forget things or get sidetracked. In some ways, this reminded me of my dad. In other ways, this reminded me of other incredibly intelligent people I have met who get sidetracked by problems and questions and want to find answers for them. The humor that it created in the book was entirely real and while it was funny and made Alva fall for Samuel, it also helped to bring the characters to life.
The author also handled the abusive situation really well. Alva opens up only slowly giving pieces of her life at a time to Samuel. Only what is necessary or what comes out accidentally is mentioned at a given moment. She keeps things hidden for the most part and is afraid of ever ending up in the same situation again. The book handled the situation so well it made me reflect on my own writing. How had I handled my own abusive situation in The Criminal? Did I play it right? Could I do it better?
I should also give a warning that there is a very explicit sex scene in The Widow of Rose House. In fact, there are two. Exactly two. I have probably mentioned before how I often don't enjoy books that bring sex (to be clear, that is explicit sex. I don't mind when it is implied but not described) into the pages. Sarah J. Maas's A Court of Thorns and Roses series is frustrating to me. In the last book, every second chapter includes a sex scene or two making the book seem like it is erotica rather than fantasy and it is incredibly frustrating.
This book was not the same. The two scenes felt necessary where they were placed and while I skipped portions of them (letting my eyes glaze over the awkward parts), there were also portions that weren't so explicit. Rather than two characters ravaging one another, these characters were sharing something intimate as the protagonist healed. It should be made clear that the first scene lasts quite a number of pages (a chapter and a half or so maybe 10pgs?) though the second only lasts 1-3pgs. Neither takes up so long that one should avoid the book because of these scenes. If you are concerned, message me and I will give you exact pages to avoid.
Overall, I loved this book. The characters were particularly enjoyable (and only suitable to leave behind for a book narrated by a dog The Art of Racing in the Rain) the plot was enjoyable and the setting (late 1800s just outside of New York in a haunted house) was quite fun to read. I also loved the solution to the ghost problem, the humor in the book, and other random additions. This book gave me Peacock Emporium vibes so if you enjoyed that book you may enjoy this one. It is definitely one to add to your shelf!