Wednesday, January 18, 2012

TBR Challenge Review: The Mistaken Widow

The Mistaken Widow
Cheryl St. John
Historical Romance/1869
Harlequin/August 1, 1998


Sarah Thornton wanted to shout, but revealing her true identity could only bring disaster on herself and her infant son. Still, sorrowful circumstance had turned a mistake into a miracle. She suddenly had a home, a family --- and Nicholas Halliday, a man as dangerous to her as he was desirable!

His newly widowed sister-in-law wore mystery as elegantly as an evening wrap, rousing more than suspicions in Nicholas Halliday --- for this beautiful stranger had a claim not only to the family fortune, but also to his heart and soul...!

Another year, another chance to conquer, or at least tame the ol TBR pile. Thanks to Wendy for once again hosting. It not only helps reduce the TBR pile, it also helps to confirm why certain books are in that pile when other participants post positive reviews of those books. I have a number of books by Cheryl St. John on the TBR pile but decided to go with The Mistaken Widow because it's a stand alone and I liked the mistaken identity premise.

Sarah Thornton's life has taken a tragic turn when she finds herself pregnant, alone and thrown out of her father's house. She's traveling west, trying to start a new life when another tragedy strikes. Sarah is then mistaken for the widow of a man from a wealthy family and is taken under the protection of his brother. It's easy to understand why Sarah doesn't tell the truth. If she had she would have been left destitute with her newborn child and no means to take care of him. Instead she is welcomed into a beautiful home where she and her son have everything they need. St. John does well showing how Sarah is pulled between her guilt and her desperate situation. But the longer Sarah lives the lie, the harder it is to confess.

Nicholas Halliday knows something isn't quite right about his brother's widow. She's sweet, quiet and his mother adores her. But Nicholas is suspicious and is determined to find out more about the woman his brother wed. Nicholas is not in an ideal situation - falling for his dead brother's wife. Talk about uncomfortable! I liked how he continued to question her story even as he was falling for her. He tries to keep his role as family protector, there's money involved, even as he continues to see Sarah as a wonderful person. He's certainly conflicted in his feelings for Sarah, thinking she's his late brother's widow along with his gut feeling that she can't be trusted.

Sarah is walking on a tightrope as she pretends to be someone she's not. It was inevitable the tightrope would become shaky and Sarah would start to fall. The cause of the fall didn't come as a surprise, neither did Sarah's reaction. So in that sense the suspense was not very suspenseful. The romance is slow moving, with Sarah and Nicholas having some huge obstacles to overcome. Even with those obstacles I was surprised at how long it took Nicholas to make his move and follow through.

The Mistaken Widow was a touching story of one woman's desperation to find a safe home for herself and her child. Instead she finds a family and love. It's sweet and tender, sad at times but ultimate a lovely read.

Rating: B


  1. Huh!! This proves me wrong. I was sure I had every Cheryl St John book but as I was reading your review, nothing was ringing a bell and when I checked, sure enough this is one I missed somehow. I simply MUST rectify that. This is the third book now that I've found while reading others who have joined in the TBR challenge that I want to get. I simply adore her books.

  2. Hmmm, this reminds me of the movie Mrs Winterbourne with Brendan Fraser. I guess there is just so much you can do with this type of plot.

  3. Ooo that IS an interesting premise. I'm glad you enjoyed your TBR pick. I'm so excited I managed to meet January's challenge. I'm so bad at this deadline stuff!

  4. Oh, I have this book in my TBR! It sounds good, Leslie. You know how much I enjoy St. John. She really knows how to work on those relationships and redeem characters, even when they begin with lie like Sarah did. Thanks for the review, now I really want to read this.

  5. I've got this one buried in the depths....somewhere. Might have to pull a St. John out of the pile when we have our Western theme for the TBR Challenge :)