The Widow’s Scandalous Affair (Harlequin Historical)

Written by Lucy Ashford
Review by Ray Thompson

London, 1794. Lady Serena Willoughby soundly dislikes Raphael Lefevre, Marquis of Montpellier, whom she considers a dissolute French aristocrat, but after he rescues her from a blackmailer, the beautiful widow reluctantly agrees to pretend for a month that she welcomes his companionship. As she gets to know him better, however, she finds much to admire and begins to fall in love. Though he returns her feelings, he had earlier sworn an oath to his dying brother that he would rescue the latter’s wife and take her to relatives in America. He does have to find her first, of course, but either way prospects for a happy ending look distinctly bleak.

The plight and exploitation of impoverished French refugees who fled the violence of vengeful mobs during the Revolution, and the wide gap between the wealthy aristocracy and the impoverished lower classes offer a thought-provoking reminder of modern parallels. Against this ominous backdrop the preoccupations of Serena and Raphael with their feelings for each other seem rather self-indulgent, though such is human nature.