Grave Consequences (Grand Tour Series #2)
by Lisa Tawn Bergren
❤ Synopsis ❤
Grave Consequences is the 2nd book in the Grand Tour series that began with Glamorous Illusions. Cora, Will, Pierre, and all of Cora's siblings and their friends continue on their journey across the continent, now moving into France, Rome, Germany, and Italy. Cora's tender emotions continue to be torn in two, conflicted between the attentions of Will, their young "bear" (tour guide), and those of Pierre de Richelieu, one of the noblemen of France. The farther they travel, the more confused she becomes, all while surrounded by such art and architecture and people as she would have never, ever imagined meeting until she was claimed by Wallace Kensington, a copper king of Montana, as his daughter.
❤ My Thoughts ❤
Let's begin with the positive. The first 1/3 of the novel is fun and delightful. The travelers stay with Pierre's sister and her husband in Provence in their fine mansion that was once a prison, perched above the Rhone river. The entire visit spent with Celine and Adrien is magical, almost too good to be true. Every morning the young gentlemen awaken, slip on their bathing costumes, and take a leap from the house into the river below that right past the magnificent mansion. The imagery was so vivid that I effortlessly pictured the scenes spent in Provence.
Unfortunately, the magic was not to last. Cora's emotional upheaval really ended up detracting from this second novel. I understand that she comes from a simple background. Her parents were farmers, they never had much in the way of financial security, etc. I get that. What I don't understand is her foolhardy belief that Wallace Kensington would simply allow her to return to her previous life after bringing her out of it. Why would she even want to?
With Pierre at her side, Cora has an opportunity to achieve so much good that goes far beyond attending school and becoming a schoolmarm. A lot of people hold with the idea that you must follow your heart wherever it might lead you, even if it means you're going to fall in love with a penniless tour guide like William McCabe, who you know your father doesn't approve of, and if he finds our you're seeing him on the sly, he'll summarily dismiss him. Love is about more than mere feelings. It has to be a joining of head and heart and all I see Cora doing is following her heart, head be damned.I don't approve of that philosophy of "falling in love." Pierre is a good man who Cora is also attracted to. He's wealthy, compassionate, generous, and he adores her. Cora is not some fling for Pierre, unless something happens in the final book to mar his reputation by having him make choices outside of his established character. With him at her side, she could fund schools, and charities, and make so much difference in the world, accomplish so much good. But no, she's determined to spurn his advances, all because she has "fallen in love" with Will. A decision I don't understand because all I see in Will in this book is a careless, fanciful dreamer who knows that being with Cora is against his contract with her father. The man knows this romance is against the rules! But he just can't help himself. It's ridiculous.
Cora's resentment of her father and his maneuverings, her apparently intense dislike of wealth, all left me with the sour impression of her as a selfish little brat who throws these opportunities back in her father's face with her ungratefulness. She's even being ungrateful to God, wanting to go her own way instead of waiting on Him and examining the possibilities that her new life among the wealthier set might hold. But no, she must go her own way, make her own choices, even it means alienating herself from her new family and destroying Will's career. I don't see her father, Wallace Kensington, as the monster that Cora sees. Then again, I also tend to appreciate rather than resent the societal norms of varying historical eras, accepting them instead of ranting against them the way Cora rants. She rebels for rebellions' sake, and for someone like me who attempts to take her family's wishes into account when making decisions, well, it makes liking Cora all that much harder. I know my own identity and I don't have to be willful or disrespectful to be myself.
I'm afraid that Ms. Bergren lost me a bit with this 2nd novel. I so thoroughly enjoyed Glamorous Illusions that I'm very disappointed Grave Consequences did not live up to my expectations. The writing is as excellent as ever, but the plot wanders in circles, retracing old steps, and is wound up in unnecessary emotional drama. Because this series is historic romance rather than a historical, I already know that Cora must end up with Will. It's the way of the genre. This love triangle was merely penned to lend some drama to the story, but all it does for me is drag the story down. Cora never had a choice. The genre already decided for her that it would be Will and so it is the author's job to get her there, leaving poor Pierre, who I like so much more than Will, in the dust.
Add to that the suspense of having men trying to kidnap the female Kensingtons at every turn, when I already knew a 100 pages before "the big reveal" who was at fault, well, it was a bit of a downer. Surely someone in the novel had to have been at least as astute at reading people as I am, but no. Instead they were all caught by surprise and I was left rolling my eyes at their naivete. The tells were all there, people! It was obvious!
Here's hoping the 3rd book will redeem the series. But I may take a break between books 2 and 3 in the hopes that I'll be more accepting of the inevitable finale. Who knows, maybe the author will surprise me.