Cora Diehl, a Montana girl bred for farm life, is given the opportunity of a lifetime when she discovers she is the illegitimate daughter of a powerful, wealthy man, who has been watching over her quietly in the background all her life. When Cora joins her half-siblings on a Grand European Tour, she will discover more than new places and people groups, she will discover a new way of life and have to decide who she wants to become, in a journey of danger, self-awakening, and forgiveness.
I initially picked up Glamorous Illusions for its gorgeous cover and frankly, thought this was going to be a different type of book. “Oh, this is one of those Buccaneer-type books where a wealthy American goes to England/Europe to make a good romantic match.” Erm, nope.
This Grand Tour series (a trilogy) focuses on Cora as she travels with her family across Europe encountering adventure and romance and it is also something of a late coming-of-age story for some of the characters.
Personally, I think it’s kind of brassy that an author chooses to discuss illegitimacy in an inspirational fiction, historical fiction novel set in the Edwardian Era (1913). I don’t remember reading this subject before in Christian historical fiction. Please shout-out if you’re aware of other contemporary writers covering this subject in a historical setting from a Christian perspective. (Wow, I really just narrowed that down, didn’t I?)
Side note: Mr. Kensington is an interesting character as the person who had an affair. He is just old enough and wily enough, that while he’s trying to make his peace with his past errors (which seems so 21st century to me for some reason and maybe that’s a bad thing?), he’s still got secrets and some issues that will come to light later in the series (I’m guessing).
Cover Comments: Too often historical novels depict the female lead on the cover in a period-appropriate dress but we never actually SEE that ensemble in the course of the book, or if we do, it’s far off the mark. I’m pleased to report that Cora does in fact wear that gorgeous pink confection in the course of the book!
Minor nit-picking: The story has some obvious tropes for the genre. Cora and William (the male lead) cannot be together because neither will admit their feelings. How many times have we seen this done? So Cora will get into some romantic misadventures with William to stand by and try to protect her/get jealous/eventually have to leave the group because of his burgeoning affections. This book could be resolved so much sooner if William or Cora just spoke up. But no, that never happens…
Some people may end up complaining about all the padding in the book between plot points. Personally, that doesn’t bother me. I enjoy sitting down with a long book and Bergren takes her time to let us dwell in the lives of these characters and the hurts, bonding and healing that will be necessary to restore this family.
So overall, I liked it. I’ve got the other copies on the shelf for my upcoming “readers’ vacation” and I hope they retain my interest. With over a dozen books to get through … life’s too short for dull books. But I think if Book 2 is as good (or better) than Book 1, that shouldn’t be a problem.
Rating: 3 stars