February 27, 2012

Three IS a Crowd: the Not-So-Merry Widow(er)

Warning: this post contains spoilers for Charade by Sandra Brown and Archangel’s Blade by Nalini Singh. If you haven’t read the books, and don’t want to know what happens, you should skip this post. Pictures are from Someecards.

I have a confession to make, I hate widowed heroes. It’s probably my least favorite trope ever, in fact, I hate is so much that before getting a book I always make sure that there are no dead wives in it. I have to really love an author to willingly get a book with said trope, and even then, I’m weary all the way untill the end. 

If you are familiar with the blog you know that I’m a fan of Kristan Higgins, so when her latest book became available on Netgalley I was ecstatic and didn’t hesitate to hit the request button. At that point the only thing available about the book was the blurb, but the description was vague to say the least. I started the book, ready to cry, laugh and cry laughing --as usual with her books-- when lo and behold, a couple of pages into the book’s intro Ms. Higgins mentions the dreaded words: the hero’s beloved wife died of cancer. I literally went like this:

Click here to get the whole effect.
That book ended up being everything I dread about the widower trope. The hero was great but he was so hung up on his wife that the whole time I felt like the heroine was second-best to him, that his real love story died with his wife. 

I have a love/hate relationship with Sandra Brown. I either love or hate her books, Envy is one of my all-time favorite books, but others like Fat Tuesday and Another Dawn were terrible. Then there’s Charade. That book started amazingly well; the heroine is an actress who recently had a heart transplant, and someone is killing every person who got a heart on the same day. The hero is a brooding mystery writer helping her. Sounds good, right? Well, it turns out that the hero is desperately searching for his dead wife’s heart, and guess who he thinks has it?!?!?! NO, no, no, no, nooooooo!!!!

And speaking of heroines with parts of the dead wife inside of them -- Nalini Singh’s Archangel’s Blade was one of my most anticipated books of last year. I knew that the hero was a widower very much in love with his dead wife, but he was such a compelling character that I didn’t care. I actually enjoyed that book -- there were lots of flashbacks and the dead wife was a great person, the new heroine was awesome as well, so everything was working for me until the big twist: the heroine is the dead wife reincarnated.... You’ve got to be kidding me! Why did you do that Nalini Singh, WHY?!? That ending ruined two perfectly good love stories, it made the old romance obsessive, and it cheapened the new one. 

There’s a different side to this storyline, and that’s when the dead wife was a bitch and the poor hero was trapped in a loveless marriage with an evil woman who cheated on him with the Devil, and aborted his child (the hero’s, not Satan’s) without telling him. Honestly, I’m not a fan of this either. Was the hero an idiot? Why didn’t he get a divorce? I don’t mind when the hero is divorced, but when she’s dead it raises a lot of questions about him and brings a whole set of different problems to the plot.

Oh! And just in case you were wondering how I feel about widowed heroines, I don’t mind them. It’s not my favorite plotline, but I’d rather have a widowed heroine than a widowed hero. Why? Because I’m crazy and my hatred for the widowed hero is completely irrational!

What about you? How do you feel about heroes that happen to be widowers? Is there a book that you think will change my mind about the subject? I would love to hear your thoughts! 

More someecards here.


  1. I am totally laughing at your comment about being completely irrational. It think we all have our totally irrational hatreds of things.

    The widower thing doesn't specifically bother me, but I totally get what you are saying. It is hard when there is a memory of a beloved out there interfering with the current romance. It has to be very well done to not feel like the dead spouse is always a part of the current love story.

    1. Exactly! It has to be so well done as not to feel like the heroine is not who he really wants. I do love scenes when the hero says: “oh, I never felt like this with the dead wife! Best orgasm EVER!” Take that dead wife!!! It’s your fault for dying, go find another hero (I could recommend you a couple of PNR authors, or maybe a horror one?! Ghosts are making a comeback, you know!) just leave this one alone!

  2. Cool post Brie. In fact, widower heroes turns out to be one of my favorite types of heroes. LOL! Talk about direct opposites huh?

    Well for me, its not so much as widower heroes that does it for me. If the story is done well, they lend that emotional angst to the story that is just unbeatable.

    I am so hung up on stories where widowed heroes find love once again, I even made a list up on Amazon on it. Talk about addicted huh?

    Well anyhow, some of my favorites include:

    1- Night in Eden by Candice Proctor (OMG! The hero!!, You've got to read this)
    2- Texas! Chase by Sandra Brown (I love how explosive SB can make her stories)
    3- Sunset Embrace by Sandra Brown (I flat-out love this book)
    4- Guilty Needs by Shiloh Walker (My fav. SW - you should read this)
    5- Wife, Mother … Lover? by Sally Tyler Hayes (A gem I discovered quite by chance)
    6- Something to Talk About by M. J. Fredrick (I loved how MJ brought to life how good the heroe's relationship with his previous wife was)

    Mmm.. I think I have given you enough for now? ;)

    1. This is hilarious! You made a list on Amazon!? I’ve got to see that. Well, we can’t be perfect all the time so I’ll forgive your poor taste LOL! Just kidding, I need to check out the books you mention because I do agree that they are pretty emotional reads, and to be perfectly honest when done well the widower trope can be very effective at provoking emotion in the reader. Actually, when they are done badly they also elicit emotion, at least in this reader… (I turn green and start breaking things, emotion all right!)

      I actually remember your review of Something to Talk About, it was one of your “best of the month” choices, right? I remember because I didn’t enter the monthly giveaway because that book was the price and when I saw the widower thing I ran the other way! :-P

      And Sunset Embrace by Sandra Brown?!? SPOILER ALERT!................. She kills that hero in the book I mention on the post (Another Dawn) that’s the reason why I hate that book, not that I liked Sunset Embrace all that much, but still, why, Sandra, WHY?!?! END OF SPOILER!

    2. Oh yes. Another Dawn. The reason why I WILL NEVER READ that book is because SB kills off my favorite hero *sobs*

      I will join you in vehement protests to voice my outrage with thousands of other readers who feel the same way. Why Sandra? Why????!!!!

      Haha! Seriously? You start breaking things? *I can imagine* LOL!

      Do check them out. You might just change your mind ;)

  3. First off Brie I have to say you are hilarious! Second, I've actually never really put this much thought into the story lines of my romances. I have to admit you have a point about the widowed hero stories that I never bothered to take notice of before. Now I fear I'll be reading each one and picking them apart because of it! But I'm laughing so I'm guessing it won't be so bad. I don't have any objection to them, but this post will forever be in the back of my mind while reading them from now on. But generally, as long as the book is well written and keeps my interest, I don't care if the hero or heroine is divorced.

    1. LOLOLOL!!! You’re a step closer to the dark side, Jade! My plan is working!!!!!

      I think the reason you only care about a book being interesting and well written is because you’re not insane. Life would be easier if I weren't constantly obsessing about things like this one.

      Next time you come across a widower hero you can think of me and all my words of wisdom!

  4. That's so funny. Another Dawn is one of my favorite books ever and 1 of 4 I brought with me when I moved to the US. Different strokes and all that. I didn't care for the couple in Sunset Embrace so I had no issues with what she did at the end of Another Dawn.

    1. One of the reasons I like opinion posts about general subjects is that they really show you how personal the reading experience is. That’s why it’s so amusing when people get angry at bad reviews. Nothing is written in stone, it’s impossible to tell whether people will like a book or not, and not everyone will feel the same way about it. A book that was so good for you as to become special, to me was just plain bad. Last year I read a novella that I adored and I’ve yet to read a positive review about it, it’s funnily depressing ;-)

      Thank you so much for stopping by!

    2. :) I might have felt differently about it if I had read SE first, we'll never know, although I never warmed up to either Lydia? or Ross.

      I know how surprising it feels when somebody expresses either favor or disfavor for a book I hated/loved. It's like: 'but how could they?' lol

      I don't think I have an issue with widowers, but you do make some good points in your post. I'll have to ponder.

  5. Interesting....

    I really don't think I have a feeling one way or another about a widowed hero. I agree about Archangel's Blade's ending..boo to the reincarnation.

    But - I don't go running and screaming when this trope unfolds.

    Do you read BDB? Are you freaking out about Tohr? LOLOL

    1. I stopped reading the BDB books around book 6, I think. Thor is the one whose wife gets killed in book 1 or 2? Then he goes missing and never shows up again, right? I’m trying to remember the characters and that’s the only one I think has a dead wife, but he doesn’t play such a big role in the books I read so I’m not sure. If I ever catch up with the series, you can bet I’ll freak out about it!

      I just read the synopsis of one of my most anticipated books of the year, it’s the last of a series I love, from an author I adore, she only writes one book every year or so, and, well, here is the blurb:


      The youngest and wildest of the Radcliffe sisters, Jade is the last to return home to her family’s sprawling Virginia horse farm and its unsettling memories. She never planned on a night of passion with a stranger before starting her new life as a teacher and riding instructor—or the shock of recognizing the man who gave her so much pleasure standing right there in her classroom.

      Officer Rob Cooper is stunned. Not only is the woman who rocked his world his daughter’s second grade teacher, but she’s the troubled teen whom he blames for his wife’s death years ago. Worse, now that he sees her in the light of day, he wants her more than ever. Time has softened Jade’s hard, rebellious edge—she’s spirited, honest, and sexy to distraction. But will the feelings ignited in the heat of desire be enough to heal a past that needs forgiving?

      FUUUUUCK!!!! He blames her? That's even worse!!!!! I totally did the Darth Vader impersonation when I read that!

    2. Yeah - Tohr's wife died and now his book is coming out. We'll see how it goes.

      Oh boy - that blurb + you= NO GOOD!! LOL.

  6. Widower hero is not my favorite theme either. You know what is usually the problem with these types of romance though? The timing. Either it's not long after the death and the hero hadn't had time to process and move on... Or it's been too long and he's completely turned his death wife into a goddess. Ugh.

    It just seems very hard to have heroes or heroines that are emotionally balanced, sigh.

    1. Yes! Excellent point, I didn’t even think about it. Have you read Sweet Spot by Susan Mallery? The hero in that book lost his wife like 10 years ago and his house is a freaking shrine to her!!!! And he has a daughter that’s annoying as hell, hate it! Although to be perfectly honest the heroine is just as annoying so it’s the perfect match, they can annoy each other happily ever after!

    2. Oh Sweet Spot was bad. Actually, that whole trilogy was really bad ^_^;

      See, that's another problem... Kids. You don't want them to forget their deceased parents, but you tend to paint a picture that is pinker than reality. So the kids view is skewed. I feel that in the case of Sweet Spot, the hero painted himself in a corner... Once he started, he couldn't get out unless breaking his daughter's heart and well, it ended up in a mess.

    3. Oh the kids! I hate the kids! Especially when they are girls and look just like their moms!!! LOLOLOLOL No one wins in this situation. See?! Many reasons why I hate this trope!

    4. Yeah. Really not the best trope... or at least, make them behave normally.

  7. Haha love this post! I think everyone has their pet peeves when it comes to certain premises. I don't have a problem with the male widow but I think I will look at it differently now.

    1. Hi Alexis!

      This is my biggest pet peeve. I also have another one, when the heroine and her best friend fall for the hero, then the hero goes for the friend even though she is obviously wrong for him and the heroine suffers, but then the hero realizes his mistake! Hate it!

  8. I don't mind widows or widowers in romances either but I have to agree with nath. I don't like it when the spouse has only been dead for a short time [unless the marriage was arranged, unconsummated, or abusive..] AND if it has been a really long time, I don't like when the survivor has turned their deceased spouse into this model of perfection that they just can't move on.

    ***WARNING: SPOILER!!!! I loved Archangel's Blade, but yeah.. the reincarnation thing bothered me too. I was hoping that it would have been left as a spiritual connection between the women.. perhaps his first wife's way of encouraging Dimitri to let go and dedicate his love to Honor. Oh well.. it was still nicely done, even if it wasn't what I would have preferred. END SPOILER****

    1. If the marriage was arranged, consummated or abusive then I don’t have a problem, if the hero didn’t love the wife, then I don’t care (I sound so evil!). But if he loved her and misses her and is all sulky and miserable, I just hate it! (now I sound even worse!)

      I do agree that Archangel’s Blade was nicely done, for a terrible twist at least, but that’s pure talent, a different author with the same situation would have been a disaster! I just hope she’s done with the dead wives!

  9. I'm so late to this post, but I had to chime in and say that I find it to be an annoying trope in contemporaries. I feel like widow-ism (for either the hero or heroine) usually seems designed to explain why the characters are a little older and unmarried but not divorced. There really seems to be a bias against representing divorcees that just irks me. Do we think divorced people are broken or incapable of good relationships? If so, that seems pretty self-loathing given that many Americans are/will be divorced. (And no, I'm not divorced. So this isn't personal.)

    Widow-ism doesn't bother me as much in historicals, as divorce was less frequent and losing a spouse prematurely was more common. But yeah, I usually find the widow/widower trope indicative of lazy writing.


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