I’ve been doing a lot of work on a side project lately that has involved examining some of the common characters in romance (cowboys, billionaires, athletes, law enforcement, etc). One of the characters that I have been spending some time studying recently is Widows and Widowers. I love these stories, but I only recently understood why.
You can tell I’ve always enjoyed these stories because two of my first three books I wrote fell into this category! (They are Falling on Main Street and Kissing in the Kitchen, in case you’re curious). I haven’t written one since, but I do have some pretty strong thoughts about the storyline, why it is popular, and my pet peeves for these stories.
The good news is that two of my most recent five star reads have been stories that fall into this category. Let me talk about why I love these stories, and then I’ll give you my recommendations!
Why I love it:
Even though I’ve never lost my spouse, I can relate to the struggle of grief that comes from saying goodbye to someone. I enjoy taking the journey with a deeply wounded character as they find happiness again after loss. It is such a powerful message of hope and ultimately, a very satisfying happy ending. I love that the characters have a complicated past that makes them deep and hesitant. I admit to loving the back-and-forth tension and angst of the internal struggle of the widow or widower as they process the guilt of “moving on.”
What I struggle with:
My biggest pet peeve for these storylines is if the previous relationship is written off as loveless, abusive, or otherwise flawed as a way for the widow/widower to shortcut the process of “moving on” to someone new. Now, I’m definitely not saying that the previous relationship needs to be perfect, but in either circumstance, the main character is going to have some things to process. The wounds will be different if they are grieving the love of their life or dealing with wounds their first marriage left. As long as the author addresses that, I’m good!
My other pet peeve is if the previous relationship isn’t really important in the story. Losing a partner would be such an identity-shaping experience, I get frustrated if an author made their character a widower, but then basically ignored the fact that they had a previous wife when as the story develops. It just feels a bit like a bait and switch and I didn’t get what I was hoping from the journey.
Widow story recommendations:
I read Elizabeth Maddrey’s “Her Billionaire Benefactor” a few weeks ago and loved it. If you’ve been reading my blogs for awhile, that shouldn’t be a surprise, as I adore almost all of Elizabeth’s books. This book was a great slow-burn romance that felt like an impossibility from the beginning, developed so naturally, and resolved with a happy sigh. The billionaire character is sweet and swoony (and adores his grandmother!). The widow character has a huge trauma to work through in losing her entire family – and the character arc was very well developed. I loved the Easter connection and the cameos from other characters in the multi-author series. Highly recommend this if you are a fan of widow stories, slow burn romance, and small-town settings.
Next up is a book that is still on pre-order, but I couldn’t let that stop me from talking about it. Hannah Jo Abbott’s newest book is His Best Friend’s Widow and it comes out about two weeks from today. I love a lot of Hannah’s books, but this one gave me ALL the feels. Our widow is doing her best to single parent three rowdy kids, running herself ragged. The male main-character was her husband’s best friend, and his grief has kept him away. Until she calls him out of desperation one day… This book has adorable children characters, laugh-out-loud moments, tear-your-hair out tension and almost-moments. It made me cry more than once and was just **chef’s kiss** perfection. Seriously, I don’t rave about books often, but I finished it in one sitting and am counting down the days until release when I will read it again in the final version. Pre-order it today or mark your calendar to read it in Kindle Unlimited.
What do you like about Widow/Widower romances? Do you have any favorites you recommend? Let me know in the comments!