Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Griffin
Date of publication: October 8th, 2019
Genre: Romance, Paranormal
A young widow restores a dilapidated mansion with the assistance of a charming, eccentric genius, only to find the house is full of dangerous secrets in this effervescent Gilded Age debut novel
It’s 1875, and Alva Webster has perfected her stiff upper lip after three years of being pilloried in the presses of two continents over fleeing her abusive husband. Now his sudden death allows her to return to New York to make a fresh start, restoring Liefdehuis, a dilapidated Hyde Park mansion, and hopefully her reputation at the same time. However, fresh starts aren’t as easy as they seem, as Alva discovers when stories of a haunting at Liefdehuis begin to reach her. But Alva doesn’t believe in ghosts. So when the eccentric and brilliant professor, Samuel Moore, appears and informs her that he can get to the bottom of the mystery that surrounds Liefdehuis, she turns him down flat. She doesn’t need any more complications in her life―especially not a handsome, convention-flouting, scandal-raising one like Sam.
Unfortunately, though Alva is loath to admit it, Sam, a pioneer in electric lighting and a member of the nationally-adored Moore family of scientists, is the only one who can help. Together, the two delve into the tragic secrets wreathing Alva’s new home while Sam attempts to unlock Alva’s history―and her heart.
Set during the Gilded Age in New York City, The Widow of Rose House is a gorgeous debut by Diana Biller, with a darkly Victorian Gothic flair and an intrepid and resilient American heroine guaranteed to delight readers.
Alva Penrose Rensselaer Webster had been inside Delmonico’s for nine seconds before Mrs. Henry Biddington asked the maitre d’hotel to throw her out.The Widow of Rose House by Diana Biller
I didn’t know what I was expecting when I started reading The Widow of Rose House. I was interested in reading the book. Anything with ghosts and romance in it, and I am reading it. But, I was a little iffy on the Gothic description. I haven’t had the best luck when it comes to reading books in that genre. That was my only hold back from being delighted in reading The Widow of Rose House. I am happy to say that, I was pleased to read this book. I did have an issue with the ending, but other than that, it was a great read.
The Widow of Rose House’s plotline was medium paced. It wasn’t too fast or too slow. Which was perfect for me, and it made reading the book enjoyable. There were no dropped storylines. But there were storylines that I felt needed clarification like how Henry ended up with the Moore’s or why Alva’s mother hated her. The latter gave me a feeling that there was more going on in that relationship than what was said.
Alva was such a complicated woman, and I found her hard to get to know in the beginning. The author held back a lot when it came to her marriage to Alain. There was a point in the book where I did wonder if she was as scandalous as the gossip made her out to be. Then the author explained that Alain was abusive. That is when she started to come to life in my eyes. Alva was vulnerable but at the same time had a backbone of steel. She was damaged goods, and she knew it. She had such a hard time trusting people, after what her husband did, and it took her forever to trust Sam.
I loved everything about Sam. He defined the term absent-minded professor. People could be standing in front of him, and if something caught his attention, bam, they would cease to exist for him. It was awesome!! Take, for instance, the serving tray conversation. I was dying laughing as I read that scene. It was hilarious. I also loved how deeply he loved his family. They were everything to him and vice versa.
Sam and Alva’s romance was unique. I say unique because Sam knew right away that Alva was his other half. But, he also saw that she was damaged. He did pursue her, but everything that happened was on her terms. On Alva’s side, she fought her feelings for Sam tooth and nail. It was amusing and sad to read. Amusing because she blustered a lot and sad because she felt she wasn’t good enough for him.
I didn’t get any sense of sexual attraction or chemistry between Alva and Sam. So when they had sex, it was a surprise. It was a clean sex scene. Nothing explicit. It was descriptive but didn’t go over the line. I loved it!!
The ghost storyline was interesting. I say interesting because I enjoyed the search that Alva and Sam did on the previous owners of the house. I also enjoyed seeing how paranormal research would have looked like in the late 1800s. But then the ghost storyline took a weird turn that involved possession and being able to see slightly into the future. I was a little “eh” on that part, but it did add a unique flair to the storyline.
The storyline with Alva’s brother-in-law and Alva’s marriage was sad. I liked how the author didn’t get graphic with the abuse that Alva and her mother-in-law suffered. Alva’s brother-in-law was skeezy. He was trying to blackmail her into giving him money each month. Considering how divorce was looked upon in that century, I didn’t blame Alva for caving into him. But, I wasn’t expecting what happened to him at the end of the book.
The end of the book was alright. But I got a sense that it was rushed. But overall, it was a good read. I do hope that there will be other books about the other Moore siblings!!
I would give The Widow of Rose House an Adult rating. There is sex. There is mild language. There is mild violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.
I would reread The Widow of Rose House. I would recommend it to family and friends.
**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**