Kim’s Review of Glamorous Illusions (Grand Tour Series #1) and Grave Consequences (Grand Tour Series #2) by Lisa Tawn Bergren

giltbIt’s not a secret that I love historical fiction novels.  If you were to take a look at the book genres I read in a pie graph form, I’m 99% positive that more than 65% of that graph would be dedicated to historical fiction novels.  As I was scouring Netgalley one evening I came across a novel entitled Glamorous Illusions by Lisa T. Bergren.  It was all about a woman finding herself (WIN!) while on a Grand Tour in the early 1900’s! For those unfamiliar with that term, back in the day the wealthy would go on tours around Europe to see the sights, meet people, etc.  For more info, click here.  Excited to see what Bergren had in store for me, I jumped right into Glamorous Illusions.

Cora Diehl’s family has fallen on hard times.  As farmers in a small town in Montana in 1913, her family can barely keep it together as their crops fail and Cora’s father’s health declines after multiple strokes.  Her life takes a dramatic turn, however, when she learns that she is the illegitimate daughter of an incredibly wealthy man, Wallace Kensington, The Copper King.  Through a massive fortune made in the copper business, Cora’s new family has more money than she could ever imagine.  They take her along as they tour through England and France, and Cora begins to experience sights that she only dreamed of before.  Her journey will be filled with danger, discovery, and adventure as she travels across Europe on a journey of self discovery and self acceptance.

Wow. Wow. Wow.  This book, in a word, wowed me.  From the glamorous locations to the high fashions in early 1900’s, this book hooked me.  Cora is a character going through deep transformations: spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally.  She’s got a lot on her plate, and what better way to figure out what she’s made of than a trip around the world.  Bergren gives Cora and Will great narrative voices for the reader to engage and connect with.  Their emotions are so clearly and eloquently written for the reader.  Their anger, their guilt, happiness, and sadness are all there to make the reader connect with these characters.

I’m not the most religious of people, but I can say that I did find the spiritual elements of the book to be moving.  God is a major part of Cora’s life, and as much as her journey is about finding herself, it’s also about finding her place in His master plan.  I was also incredibly surprised at how action-packed the end of the novel was.  It changed the whole feel of the novel (in a good way) and made me that much more anxious to begin Grave Consequences (book two).  In short, Glamorous Illusions is a solid start to the Grand Tour series, and historical fiction fans should definitely add this mainstay on to their reading lists.

4 out of 5 Stars

Glamorous Illusions by Lisa T. Bergren
David C. Cook (2012)
eBook: 416 pages
ISBN: 9781434705334

gcltbI immediately dove into book two in the Grand Tour series, Grave Consequences.  Taking place immediately following the first novel, it promised to be an exciting continuation to the action-packed ending of Glamorous Illusions.  With that in mind (and the book loaded up on my Nook), I started right in.

Grave Consequences begins with Cora and her family continuing their tour, making stops in Austria, France, and Italy.  All seems well, until Cora realizes that she is being followed.  What’s more, she must not only protect her physical safety, but her emotional safety as well, as a mysterious Frenchman makes a bold move to claim Cora’s heart.  Will she be able to escape her past and move forward as a new woman?  What will she make of all the claims laid on her heart?

I LOVE books with angst.  I can’t get enough of it!  I love when I stress out about a book, because it makes me realize how utterly connected I’ve become with the book and the characters.  When you can’t breathe because you’re so worried about what will happen to the characters, then you know you’re really in the thick of the story.  And that is exactly what happened with me and this book.  I felt like I was right there with Cora, Pierre, and Will as their love triangle exploded.  The whole kidnapping plot line afforded the novel an opportunity to become a rapid page turner.  What started out as a small ending plot to Glamorous Illusions turns into a full-blown mystery in Grave Consequences.  The kidnapping helped move the growing relationships between characters in a unique and creative way.  I really like how Bergren writes from both Will and Cora’s points of view.  The duality of the narrative flows surprisingly well as you get multiple perspectives on what’s truly happening.  With all of this being said, it’s no surprise that I’m eagerly awaiting book three in the series, Glittering Promises, due out October 1st.

4 out of 5 Stars

This is my fifteenth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge

Grave Consequences by Lisa T. Bergren
David C. Cook (2013)
eBook: 448 pages
ISBN: 9780781408783

Special thanks to David C. Cook for my review copies through Netgalley!