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.
The Widow of Rose House was a fantastic debut by Diana Biller and the story itself was just utterly charming. I haven’t read many books based on the Gilded Age but it was a refreshing change to the usual historical romance I read. The story centers around Alva Webster, a widowed woman who had previously fled her abusive husband, and Professor Samuel Moore, an eccentric scientist/inventor and absolute sweetheart.
Before I began this story, I had heard so many rave reviews for both the incredible story and the “cinnamon roll” hero. Of course, this meant I had high expectations going in and The Widow of Rose House delivered! Let me first start with Sam, said “cinnamon roll”. He was the biggest delight and my favourite part of this book. He’s all big smiles, lost coats, mismatched socks, and broad shoulders. He’s full of positivity, hope for building a better world, and love for his family, friends and Alva. Basically, he was amazing and exactly what Alva needed.
Alva was also a delight but in a completely different way. She’s had a rough go in life both from her abusive husband and from her neglectful parents. She’s tough, stubborn, independent and doesn’t trust easily; all learned behaviour from her life so far but she’s going to have to learn one more thing: to let Sam into her heart.
Outside of the romance between Alva and Sam, there is lots of drama to keep the reader intrigued further. An unpleasant flash from Alva’s past makes a reappearance to cause trouble; and in the midst of trying to start her new life by renovating Liefdehuis, there may or may not be a ghost scaring off the construction crew.
Biller’s writing is clear, concise and hooks you into the story from the beginning. There is quite a lot going on in this book but it’s paced really well so that it doesn’t all feel overwhelming and the reader can grasp each element as it occurs. Also while there is a mystery going on, it doesn’t play second fiddle or get overwhelmed by the romance. Both are equally important in this book and the whole story was charming and exceptional. The Widow of Rose House was a great debut and I can’t wait to see what else Diana Biller writes in the future.