Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Glamorous Illusions by Lisa T. Bergren

When I sew, walk, or work in the garden I often like to listen to a book on tape.  Since my mind is also concentrating on the project at hand, I usually like something entertaining but not too difficult to follow.  I've found that many of the Christian historical novels (often romances) fit the bill.  The uniqueness of a different time period holds my attention, while the stories are often pretty predictable so I am not processing any deep plot or complicated characters.  I guess you could compare it to watching a Hallmark movie while you sew.  No surprises as the story progresses, but it's fun and often heart warming.

This is a stark contrast from the type of audio book I like for car trips.  If I am going to listen to a book while traveling, I want quality literary fiction or more often nonfiction.  Part of that distinction in choosing such books is that my husband might also be listening.  All this commentary is a lead in to a review of my most recent audio experience.  While sewing last week, along with some time on the treadmill, I listened to Lisa T. Bergren's novel Glamorous Illusions which was promoted as appealing to Downton Abbey fans.  I didn't catch an exact time period, but I figure it is turn of the 20th Century or a little earlier.  Young Montana native Cora has just returned to the family ranch from her first year at college when her father suffers a stroke.  Then a stranger comes to their home and reveals to Cora that he, a wealthy copper baron, is her real father.  When Cora's mother confirms this truth, Cora is shocked.  She comes to realize that his offer to send her off on a world tour with her half-siblings is something she must accept if Mr. Kenningston is going to finance the medical care her adoptive father needs.

The extravagant life Cora is thrust into is a big shock, and naturally, there is conflict between her and her half siblings, although this book really is Cora's story. It is ironic that her "rich" traveling companions, including those newly discovered siblings, do not accept her or her new status, when they themselves are somewhat looked down on by their European hosts, those long established upper class families whose titles goes back generations.  Even in audio format, the glamorous residences, over the top parties, and the snobbery were intriguing to witness.  It was easy to see that Cora despite her honest love for her hardworking Montana family was getting drawn into the luxury and pampering.  When she realizes that she is developing feelings for William, the American guide, she cannot decipher whether her interest is reciprocated.  Then she meets Pierre de Richelieu, a charming Frenchman.  When a masquerade ball and a special dance are directed at the impressionable young American, people notice, including Richelieu's enemies.  

While most of this book was focused on Cora and her "awakening" to the wider world, suddenly the last fourth of the book becomes a story of danger and intrigue, a rather fast and abrupt change.  As I was listening, anticipating a solid resolution, the book just ended.  That's when it hit me --- this is part of a series.  And it is not the kind of series in which one story ends and  related characters continue in the next book.  No, this is a series of three books, all about Cora and her journey through Europe.  
Now, I still like the book and can give a solid recommendation to those who like light historical fiction with a little romance and suspense.  However, I think you should get all three books at the same time and consider them one story! Now I have to locate the other two books so I can know what happens to Cora.

Glamorous Illusions

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