The Widow of Rose House Cover
Synopsis from the Creator:

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 romantic comedy debut

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.

Review: The Widow of Rose House, by Diana Biller

[fa icon="calendar"] Oct 18, 2019 9:45:00 AM / by Margrethe

You know how sometimes you’re in the mood for a historical romance, but you’d like a touch of spooky and a hint of lightness? This could just be me who wants that sort of book all the time, but if you are like me, that book is The Widow of Rose House.

This book has been described as a gothic historical rom-com. It is not a rom-com. It doesn’t have a lot of moody gothic atmosphere to it. But it is delightful. The banter between Alva and Sam is fun and flirty in the way of Katharine Hepburn comedies, but there are no hijinks. Instead, they're trying to find out if Alva’s house really is haunted.

The story is completely focused on the romance and the journey Alva goes on to learn to trust herself and others again. Yes, there is a ghost, but the ghost is really a means for Alva to become her own person and someone who could let herself fall in love with the extremely charming Sam. Her past was formed around uncaring parents and a young marriage to an abusive man. And then she formulates a plan to have a career, which revolves around redecorating a haunted house and leads a famous, handsome inventor into her life. From there, these two fall in unlikely love as Sam searches for proof of ghosts and Alva tries to rebuild her life.

The usual bleak and dangerous air of a gothic novel never really touches The Widow of Rose House, which is not a complaint. As the darkness never seeps into the romance, you know that the threat to the relationship isn’t some outside evil, but the pasts of these two people. It might have more in common with a cozy mystery, like a darker Miss Marple with ghosts and sex.

I am describing this poorly, but how do you describe a book that isn’t really the thing you were sold? Whatever, I loved Alva and Sam, and Sam’s family, and the hope of the book.


Content warnings: history of domestic violence, blackmail, secondary character was institutionalized, threat of physical violence

Margrethe received a digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Topics: review