05 DecThe Nabobs Widow by Elsie Lee is the Best Regency Romance Novel I Have Ever Read

Elsie Lee’s Cover from the Hardcover Edition of Elsie Lee's delightful Regency Romance novel The Nabob's Widow.The Nabob’s Widowis a genuine delight. I honestly do not mind saying that The Nabob’s Widow is hands-down the best Regency Romance novel that I have ever read…and I have believed so faithfully through nearly 30 years of reading literally hundreds-if not thousands-of Regency Romance novels. Now that is a pretty dramatic statement to make-especially considering that my own Regency Romance novel, A Very Merry Chase, is currently for sale on Amazon and Barnes and Noble; but the truth is the truth. It is said that you should always write a book that you would love to read and so I do love my book. It contains all the elements that I enjoy so much in a romance novel-an exceptionally tall, emotionally wounded hero, an independent lady who can darn well take care of herself struggling against societal constraints, dashing highwaymen, despicable rogues, mistaken identities, and a bit of mystery, all set against a backdrop of the Regency Romance era of early 19th century England-but Elsie Lee’s The Nabob’s Widow will forever and always be the book I wish I had written.

Like most Regency romance fans I like Jane Austen and I absolutely love Georgette Heyer, (some will reverse those two) but neither of those esteemed ladies wrote my favorite Regency Romance novel-it’s just that simple. I’ve Regency Romance novels for the past 30 years or so, and the very first novel I ever wrote was a Regency romance novel entitled A Very Merry Chase. Some of the Regencies that I’ve read over the years were good, some were great, some were silly to the point of being ridiculous, and some were downright horridly boring-but of all of the Regency Romance novels I ever read-including my own Very Merry Chase-Elsie Lee’s stands head and shoulders above the crowd as the most entertaining, most delightful, and most memorable of them all.

I first read Elsie Lee’s The Nabob’s Widow over 30 years ago, after discovering Georgette Heyer who engendered a love for the witty repartee and delightfully witty courtships found in the traditional Regency Romance novels. I owned a little used bookstore at the time and spent my days happily reading and writing stories and books of every kind, genre and description. I fell in love with the book and all its delightful characters then…and made the fatal mistake of loaning my copy to a favorite (very sweet and quite elderly) customer who never returned it. I spent the next twenty some years searching every used bookstore I entered for another copy. When the Internet came into being and bookstores finally came online I renewed my search and found that other Regency Romance lovers felt the same was as I did about Elsie Lee’s The Nabob’s Widow and that copies of this out-of-print treasure-in any condition-were a precious commodity. I was finally able to locate an affordable, falling apart at the seams-obviously much loved and much read paperback copy which…I literally read to death. So then I went in search of another copy-a hardback copy-and was finally able to purchase a retired Library copy that will hopefully last me for the rest of my life…unless I break down and decide to extravagantly gift myself with one of the few remaining beautiful, first edition copies. The kids are finally out of college…I deserve it, don’t I?

Anyway…. Why is Elsie Lee’s The Nabob’s Widow so memorable and so wonderful that I would go on a nearly lifelong quest to own a copy. And why is it so wonderful that anyone fortunate enough to own a copy would choose to read it once or even twice a year? For one reason it is completely unique in that it is written from the gentleman’s perspective. “The Widow and Company” includes our leading man’s beloved uncle’s beautiful young widow, wise beyond her years and exotically raised in India; her friend and lifelong companion, a bit older but equally lovely and delightful; 2 imperious Siamese cats, a talking bird, one imposing Indian servant and-playing a delightfully dynamic role all their own-memories of, and instructions from, the deceased Nabob himself.

The story takes place as seen through the eyes of our reluctant leading man, and you simply cannot help but fall in love with the widow and her wonderful entourage right along with him. In fact, the entire cast of characters of The Nabob’s Widow is a complete delight, even the servants-who lovingly plot and play matchmaker at the infamous Spotted Dog pub-are so much fun that you want to hang out with them. Our hero’s relatives and all of their foibles are hilariously drawn, and his boon companions are each a perfect leading man, so you get three dreamy gentleman (actually four if you include the deceased Nabob himself) for the price of one.

Now, having said that I must make a very important point, so let me state here, for the record, absolutely do not read one of Elsie Lee’s other books, and especially not her Regency Romances and pre-judge The Nabob’s Widow as something that couldn’t really be that good or possibly be worth the effort of acquiring a copy. None of her other books-and especially her Regencies-are even remotely in the same class. It is almost as if The Nabob’s Widow was written while Ms. Lee was lost under the spell of some sort of magical once-in-a-lifetime writing enchantment!

Now back to Elsie Lee’s masterpiece…The Nabob’s Widow. There really are not enough glowing accolades in my vocabulary to possibly convey how wonderful this book is…except to say that if you like Heyer-and especially Heyer’s The Grand Sophy…or even if you don’t-you will absolutely adore Elsie Lee’s . It is and always will be the book I wish I could have written and beyond any doubt the most treasured possession in my Regency Romance library.

Teresa Thomas Bohannon
Author of the Regency Romance novel
A Very Merry Chase.

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