Lady Elinor Melbourne had no idea she was an heiress. She was working as a governess when her estranged uncle’s solicitors informed her that she had inherited a fortune, an estate, and a rambling mansion. Now, she is trying to improve the decaying property with the help of her neighbor, Sir Michael Grenville. At the same time, she is being pursued by her amorous cousin, Sir Francis Crowley. Then, a series of strange occurrences begin: a servant is murdered, plans of her home are stolen, and the weeping ghost of her uncle’s wife–who killed herself during her pregnancy–begins to roam the hallways.
What is certain is that Elinor is in danger. As rumors that she murdered her uncle and his wife spread, Elinor is in disgrace. The mysteries of her home also threaten her. Are there really secret passageways between the walls? Who would use her new home against her?
Now, Elinor doesn’t know who she can trust. Is Sir Michael the helpful neighbor he appears? Or does he covet her land for himself? Is his friend Sidney a true ally? What about the stand-offish ex-boxer who was a servant to her late uncle? Or the dissolute Sir Francis, with his proposals of marriage?
Unlike Janet Louise Roberts’s disturbing Rivertown, The Weeping Lady is an enjoyable book. That doesn’t mean that it is a particularly strong effort. The villain of the piece is clear from the beginning, decreasing the tension. There are few surprises to be found. One big twist is enjoyable, but highly improbable, considering the kind of makeup that was used on stage during the period.
Another flaw in The Weeping Lady is it’s setting. What time period has Roberts chosen? Although she includes the Regent as a main character and refers to the war on the continent, she also describes the men’s clothing in great detail. Their outfits seem to be straight out of the late eighteenth century. The fact that the cover image depicts the heroine in Victorian garb and a man in a tricorn hat confuses the matter further. I conclude that the author intended the book to be set during the French Revolution. I wish that Roberts had drawn her setting more precisely, because the conflicting details distract from the slender plot.
The chemistry between the hero and heroine is fair. I enjoyed their interactions, but they had neither the punch nor the threatening ambiguity that would have elevated their relationship from plausible to delightful. Their few, fairly chaste physical encounters were average. Certainly, they don’t live up to the sex scenes in Black Horse Tavern, but nor do they descend to the level of rape, as in Rivertown.
As tepid as this review is, I enjoyed The Weeping Lady. In every case, I would have liked to have been able to give a rating half a point higher than I did. All in all, the mystery elements (predictable as they may be) enhanced Roberts’s book enough that I would recommend it–as long as the reader prepared for an “acceptable” book instead of a scintillating one.