The Grand Tour. Oh, to be among the wealthy in the days when parents sent to their children to England, France and Italy to complete their education in luxury, among the world’s finest cities. (Insert swoon here!) Lucky for us, Lisa T. Bergren takes us around the world on this very tour with Cora, a young woman raised on a farm in a small Montana town. When Cora returns from Normal School for summer break and finds that her father has suffered a stroke, family secrets come out and Cora discovers that the man she called father for so long isn’t her real father. Wallace Kensington, copper king and the wealthiest man in the state, is Cora’s biological father, and willing to cover all financial needs for her mother, step-father and schooling if she would do one thing for him – take the Grand Tour with her step-siblings.
Would you do it?
Cora didn’t want to. But upon realizing the family she loved so dearly would have no other way to survive, she agreed. In Glamorous Illusions, the tour set out on the Olympic (sister ship to the Titanic that sunk a year prior) and sailed to London, England and Paris, France with Cora, her two step-sisters, one step-brother, family friends of the step-siblings and two guides.
I really enjoyed how Lisa Bergren crafted this story. It had a “rags to riches” element to it, yet, enough challenges to let you know that finding a long lost rich relative isn’t as dreamy and problem solving as it sounds. In fact, the people in this book found a problem everywhere they turned, and I loved how that gave the story a redeeming quality. I liked how Cora’s real father, Wallace Kensington, had enough wisdom to know that his young adult children wouldn’t grow out of their pride, spoiled ways without a challenge to stretch them and build character that would honor the family name. Needless to say, this made for a very interesting family dynamic during the tour! In addition, the drama and soul-searching moments kept me entertained and curious to how the characters would handle some of the situations they ran into. The plot twist in Paris, where – oh, lets just say that the group finds themselves in need of fleeing from some very unpleasant bad guys – was a delightful surprise. (Sorry – no more spoilers than that!) *wink*
I also loved how the book ended. There was just enough of a resolution to let you know everyone was “okay,” but not enough to let on which guy snagged Cora’s heart or how the relationship dynamics between the other step-siblings would turn out. I’d call it a mild-cliffhanger. The ending really pushes you to keep reading the series to find out what happens…and I loved that. A good story that flows from one book to another are my favorites. That said, you should probably read this series in order.
Conclusion: Glamorous Illusions was the perfect fit for my “Around The World in 80 Books” reading challenge. If you’re looking for an international read with some neat historical features from an era gone by, I would recommend this book! The story emphasized family relationships and difficulties that can arise when children find out about other siblings later in life. Additionally, it had a suspenseful end that will please readers who like a little action with their romance. Glamorous Illusions was my first read from Lisa T. Bergren and I look forward to reading more from her and the Grand Tour Series in the future!