The Viscount's Wife*
Mysterious Death of the Viscount
We meet the lady of the titular role as she is marrying the viscount. He is not the man she would have chosen, but her cruel father has matched her with a man much like himself. During the wedding breakfast, she breaks down in the library, not realizing that there is someone else in the room. Newton is a friend of neither the bride or groom, yet he has been invited because he has some notoriety. After seeing her great distress, Newton can’t shake the bad feeling he has about her, so he and a friend go to visit the newlyweds. After some blistering to get past the butler, Newton finds the new Lady Chaucer holding a bloody knife near the dead form of her husband.
Did Henrietta kill her husband, or is someone trying to frame her? How will she get out of this? After all that has happened, will she be able to find a man who treats her well?
This book should definitely have a trigger warning about psychological and physical abuse. Right at the start, the viscount assaults his new wife and threatens her with much more. Soon we learn that life with her father was much the same. The author does an excellent job of portraying the effects of abuse on Henrietta. She cowers and shrinks away from others, fearing saying or doing the wrong thing will result in punishment, as that is all she knows. It appears to be all that she will know with her new husband as well, which causes her to despair. She has no hope, but she tells Newton that she must and will endure. Both her father and her husband were so vile and cruel with no redeeming qualities that they were unrealistic characters. In particular, it is hard to imagine a father treating a child so cruelly over fear of what she might become; his reason for his treatment of her was unconvincing as he seemed to be going to an unneeded extreme.
While I appreciated Newton’s nobleness in wanting to help out a terrified and likely framed woman, it seemed strange to me that both he and his friends would help out a stranger to such an extent. The author didn’t succeed in making that premise, upon which the entire book rests, believable to me. I liked Newton’s character; he is a good man and a good hero. I just wish that the setup was more believable.
The book review site where I downloaded this book listed one of its categories as being Sweet Romance. While nothing of a sexual nature happens, the book is violent, so I wouldn’t consider it a sweet romance.