Lucy Contrain's husband died a year ago in an accident, leaving her with a lot of debt she has no hope to pay off on her own. Left with one maid (and that's because the girl refuses to leave) and an empty pantry, Lucy must depend on the kindness of others to make it through the day. She attends the Countess of Sealy's weekly salon and is fortunate enough to be given some of the countess's old clothes to wear. But when Lucy finds a note stuck to her door, stating that she needs to come up with 1,000 pounds or lose her house, she knows there's no hope left for her. No kind soul could ever be that generous.
Then she meets Nicholas Richmond, whose search for a royal ruby named “the scarlet widow” takes him to Lucy's door. He tells her that her late husband was a jewel thief, a fact that Lucy refuses to believe. Then he mentions the reward for the lost jewel—5,000 pounds—and Lucy vows to help him in any way she can. Their search leads them to the seedy underside of London, to royal salons and theater gatherings, and into each other's arms.
This report prepared by Elizabeth Cooper
Berkley, Sep 2003, 362 pp.
In 1816 London, Lucy Contrain has just finished mourning the death of her husband when she turns to the debt he left behind. She owes a great deal of money with no funds to make remittance in the month it comes due.
Viscount Nicholas Ramsey visits Lucy with quite a tale. The renowned womanizer insists that her late spouse was involved in the stealing of the Royal Ruby of Mandalay and the murder of his agent carrying the precious gem. Nicholas asks Lucy to assist him in his efforts to recover the jewel he brought back from India and in exchange he will help her with her massive IOUs. Needing the monetary influx, Lucy agrees to Nicholas' terms. However, he would never have tendered them if he knew the danger that he places the woman he loves in from dangerous foes willing to kill.
WIDOW IN SCARLET is an enjoyable Regency romantic suspense that adheres to sub-genre boundaries yet entertains the audience. The story line is fun to follow though not deep in plot as the emphasis is placed on the lead couple, neither of whom wanting the consideration of love to enter their agreement. Nicole Byrd provides her audience with a fine tale of intrigue in which love rules.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner