WITHOUT REPROACH: Janet Woods: Severn House Publishers, 2008: Romance, 219 p
Lauren closes the door on what had been her life—marriage to a charming, but philandering husband. Now that he’s dead she finds her marriage was even more of a sham than she’d realized. Scandal upon scandal reveals itself as she finds out that she was not his only wife, he has a child with the other woman and his “business” dealings ranged from the illegal to the utterly despicable. But the romantic suspense rises as Lauren and the Inspector investigating Charlie’s past life begin a fledgling love affair of their own.
The redeeming beauty in the story is the relationship that evolves between the leftover women in Charlie’s life: Lauren, his crotchety mother Betty, and Katie, his formerly unknown pregnant daughter from his first wife. As this odd family secrete themselves from the world in small cottage a relationship of necessity slowly grows into the loving bonds a family should share.
Although set in present day England the novel did not have a particularly British feel. A departure from her usual gentle historical fiction, perhaps Woods would have done well to stay with a more familiar genre.