Go to Homepage   Allison Lane: The Notorious Widow

  Crescent Blues Book Views

Three moon gifSignet Regency Romance (Paperback), ISBN 0451201663
I wouldn't want to live in the Regency period depicted in The Notorious Widow. It amazes me that any woman -- real or fictional -- survived it. According to Lane, men of property could beat and starve a married woman, clothe her in rags and house her in the family dungeon without a by-your-leave from the local constabulary, the Church, county officials or any of family members or neighbors.

Book: Allison Lane, The Notorious WidowThe Notorious Widow hinges on the premise that men held the reins of all power in the Regency era. The book contends that the word of a member of the gentry would always be believed above that of a common man, and that people feared being "cut dead" by a member of the Ton above the scaffold or penal transport to the colonies. However, The Notorious Widow also makes an important point for any era: everyone needs to look out for the people who depend on them.

Baron William Seabrook implores the Earl of Rockhurst to stop the rumormonger systematically destroying his widowed sisterís reputation and, by extension, the prospects of the entire Seabrook family. The earl agrees, but first he wants discover the employer of a licentious chit of a governess who had the gall to accept the public caresses of a man in full view of the earl and her young, female charge. The earl plans to see the governess fired and tossed into the street without a recommendation or any other means of support.

Book: Allison Lane, Birds of a FeatherWell, maybe the earl wouldn't want to see governess impoverished to the point where prostitution becomes her only option for survival. But he does spend a lot of time ranting about how the governess risked corrupting the morals of a minor child -- and a girl child to boot. Got to keep the gels charmingly innocent until that marriage to the highborn fellow who tosses them in the dungeon.

Yeah, you guessed it. The licentious chit proves to be the baron's sister Catherine, the same sister the earl promised to vindicate. According to Catherine, Jasper Rankin spread vicious rumors about her throughout the countryside, because she refused to allow Rankin to rape her in the fruit orchard and insulted him to boot. However, Catherine never told her brother the whole story. She feared that if the baron knew all the facts, he would challenge Rankin to a duel to the death, which Rankin (a far better shot than Seabrook) would surely win.

The earl's investigation uncovers some very disturbing things about Rankin's past, including a pattern of unpunished criminal behavior dating back to Rankin's childhood. But the task of bringing the villain to justice requires all the earl's skill and determination. How the earl rises to that challenge and the comic relief provided by Catherine's desperate-to-marry younger sister drive some of the best scenes in the book,and constitute the only reasons to recommend The Notorious Widow.

Suzanne Frisbee

Click here to share your views.