Glamorous Illusions: A Novel (Grand Tour Series)

by Lisa T. Bergren

Paperback, 2012



Call number



David C. Cook (2012), Edition: New, 413 pages


Fiction. Romance. Historical Fiction. HTML: When Cora Kensington learns she is the illegitimate daughter of a copper king, her life changes forever. Even as she explores Europe with her new family, she discovers that the most valuable journey is within. The first book in the Grand Tour series takes you from the farms of Montana through England and France on an adventure of forgiveness, spiritual awakening, and self-discovery..


Original language


Physical description

413 p.; 9.69 inches



User reviews

LibraryThing member BooksCooksLooks
Cora Diehl comes home from college to her family farm for the summer to help her parents. Things are not going well as there has been drought and the crops have not come in. Her parents scraped and borrowed to be able to send her to school and now disaster upon disaster piles up. Then her father
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has a stroke. Just as he is recovering from that - a heart attack! No money for medical care and no way to borrow money to get the winter wheat in. Cora does what she has to; she goes to the bank for a loan against a mysterious necklace that had arrived on her 16th birthday. Another in a long line of expensive gifts from an unknown giver.

Just as she thinks all is lost a stranger arrives - copper king, senator and HER FATHER?! - Wallace Kensington. He is there to tell her of her parentage and offer (?) her and her mother a way out of their predicament. Cora is completely shocked and wants nothing to do with him but her mother begs her to allow him to help. It will give her adoptive father the best chance at recovery.

So off Cora goes with Mr. Kensington to meet her half siblings and head off for a Grand Tour to Europe. The half siblings and their close friends the Morgans are less than thrilled to have Cora thrust upon them for they fear her illegitimacy will impact their ability to socialize with the "right" people but Mr. Kensington sends along enough money to cover any problems as he feels that ANYONE can be bought.

The book was charming if rather unbelievable. The writing kept me reading and turning the pages and truly enjoying the story and it wasn't until after I was done and started thinking about it that I realized that it was all total poppycock. But it was enjoyable poppycock. The characters were diverse and for the most part fleshed out. The European nobility were cardboard and the descriptions of the glorious places visited on the Tour were surprisingly flat but Cora carries the story and I would certainly pick up the successive books in the series to see what happens to her.
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LibraryThing member bookwormdreams
This book is my first encounter with Christian Romance genre of books. I was not sure if I will be able to read it, but book was not too preachy, writing was smooth and there were enough interesting descriptions to keep my attention.

We follow the story trough two point of view: Cora, an
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illegitimate daughter of American copper-mine magnate who is going on a Grand Tour trough Europe with her relatives & William, a tour guide.

- Good messages about finding yourself
- Wonderful descriptions of English and French castles & other landmarks
- Glamorous masked balls & romantic chase trough the hedge maze

- Love triangle! ARGH! I hate them but if you are a fan of them, this may be a pro for you. ;)
- In this book every character is a believer and calls upon God all the time. It gets a little bit boring after some time. "If God wills it..." "With the help of our Lord..." etc.
- Unexpected and unneeded action-mystery happening at the last two chapters. This did not feel like part of the book and was unnecessary in my opinion.

Be warned, do not attempt to read this book if these type of thinking does not suit you:
- "God," she said, her tone gently reproving, "brought Mr.Kensington to you, and with him, a world of potential. As I see it, each of our lives is a journey, Miss Cora. A path that takes us over the mountain or down through a dark valley. But He never abandons us. Never. That is how He cares for us - walking with us every step of the way."
- The question isn't how society defines you, nor how I define you, but rather how God defines you, and in turn, how you yourself want to be defined.
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LibraryThing member yearningtoread
Glamorous Illusions by Lisa T. Bergren (#1)
Pages: 416
Release Date: June 1st, 2012
Date Read: 2012, May 8th-13th
Received: ARC via NetGalley
Rating: 4/5 stars
Recommended to: 13+

Cora's life may not be grand or full of wealth, but there's one thing she's sure of: who she is. Even when tragedy
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strikes her father's farm and her education to be a teacher is in jeopardy, Cora works hard to do what needs to be done.
But when her true parentage is revealed, everything falls apart. She is whisked away into a fantasy world where she is not yet accepted. Her new siblings, her new cousins, the long trip - the Grand Tour - she is to take with them... It seems everything has fallen apart. Her growing friendship - and possibly something more - with the tour guide's nephew, Will, and her desire to discover who she keeps Cora busy...and who are the people who might be following them? In the end, it might come down to Cora to put her bravery to the test.

Lisa Bergren recently became one of my favorite authors when I read Waterfall, Cascade, and Torrent. I'm madly in love with those books, lemme tell you. And apparently there are more books that are coming out to ease my desire for more.

But for now, I am happy happy happy with Glamorous Illusions. OMG. I seriously adore this book! Maybe not as much as the River of Time, but by golly it was a riot! I love Cora's character, for one. She's a strong-willed, clear-headed girl who loves God and wants to do what's right. I loved her journey of faith and how even though she wasn't quite sure who she was, she always knew she was a child of God. She's such a feisty girl, too! She made me laugh more than once.

And, erm...I have a weakness for boys/men named Will. First, it's the little boy I've babysat for nearly 7 years, ever since he was 1 year old. He loves me, I love him... He tells me stories and we play video games together...and he tells me that if I don't let him climb that tree he'll never love me again and I tell him to get down from that tree or else and he climbs right on down and gives me the biggest hug ever. Other than that Will, there's my magical love for Will Turner...I'm a Pirates junkie. So yeah. I have good associations with the name Will. And this Will - he is NO exception. He's amaaaazing!! I seriously adore him so so so much. His growing love for Cora (even though he's certain they can never be together) is soooo sweet and adorable and innocent...and still passionate at the same time.

Come on now, don't tell me you don't want to read this book. Not only do you have awesome characters such as Cora and Will, but you also have fancy dresses, romantic boat rides (more than one!), castles and masked balls, a (possibly) dangerous game in a large maze, and more! Seriously, though, the first boat ride and the maze scene were my favorite scenes in the book! Ca-ra-zy! CRAZY!

My only drawback - the end seemed a liiiittle bit fast. Rushed, kind of. Not terrible, and totally fascinating and lovable, but just, given the length of the book, a little too quick for my liking. Oh, and the alternating POV's were a bit disappointing. I wanted it to be all from Cora's perspective, but there was some from Will's and some from Cora's real father. Not bad, just me wishing it was all Cora!

All in all, this was a great book with an awesome story and a promise for more and greater adventures! And we have yet to get to Italy, where Lisa works her magic! Eeeep! So excited!

This book reminds me of...
Downton Abbey (the time period and the dresses - the story was completely original)
The trip to France I'm someday going to take
Traveling to exotic places
Evil stepsisters
Roguish gentlemen (oxymoron, I know)
Castles I want to see
Adorable, slow-moving romances (that I wish would move faster!!!)

For the Parents -
A bit of adventure, a few flirtatious characters, but nothing improper! Great for ages 13+
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LibraryThing member alekee
Love this about rags to riches! Cora Deihl comes home from Normal School to find her Dad collapsed from a stroke. She ends up doing all the chores on the farm...including carrying water to water the wheat. Which in the end dying, after all the hard work, there is no return and they are
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going to loose the farm.
Enter a complete stranger and her world is turned upside. She is no longer the poor farm girl...she is now a member of the Ultra Rich!!!
So begins her new journey of meeting unknown relatives, and being waited on! She begins a "Grand Tour"...never in her wildest dreams could she have imagined this. Such sites and splendor, and unbelievable food and lush surroundings.
There is also some romance thrown in...but with whom. I feel like I've been left on a cliff hanger, and thank goodness there are some more answers to come.
This is such an enjoyable read...loved the descriptions and be prepared for possible kidnappings, and murder. Don't miss this one!

I received this book from Litfuse Publicity Tours and the Publisher David C Cook, and was not required to give a positive review.
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LibraryThing member l_manning
Cora has been living a fairly good life. She's been given the chance to get off her parents' farm and go to teaching college. When her dad suffers a stroke, Cora realizes going back to finish her teaching certificate may not be possible. All her time and money is going in to keeping the farm
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afloat. Her dad needs more help than anyone in town can give him though. All this leads to the biggest surprise of Cora's life. The only father she has ever know has turned out to not be her biological father. In truth, Cora is the daughter of a huge mining baron. Her biological father comes to offer Cora's family the care her father needs, but he also wants to take Cora under his wing and declare her his daughter. When he won't accept no for an answer, Cora finds herself embarking on the experience of a lifetime- the Grand Tour of Europe. Cora will see and do things she never imagined, all while trying to determine what her future truly holds.

This book was a joy to read on many levels. First, the whole idea of the Grand Tour enthralls me. How cool would it be to be able to just travel around Europe, seeing amazing sights and meeting amazing people? Of course, only the very wealthy could go, so I would have been out. It's a brilliant concept though. Having Cora be an illegitimate daughter allows the reader to relate to her more. Cora has a very hard time adjusting to her new situation in life, and she definitely does not get easy acceptance into these new social services. She can't help but be amazed and excited at her circumstances though. Who can blame her? I found it very interesting to watch Cora struggle with her duel identities. Her past and her future were so vastly different, so it was fun to see her deciding to forge her own path.

Of course, no grand novel would be complete without some romance. In this case, there are two potential beaus competing for Cora. One seems to represent her past, while the other is clearly a part of this new reality. While it was interesting to watch things play out, I know which one I preferred. I was frustrated (in a good way) by the ending. I was dying for more, and I cannot wait for the next book in the series! The ending wraps up well, but there are some loose ends that definitely left me hanging. This book will be appealing to a lot of people. The travel, history, and romance aspects are very enjoyable. I even found the fashion to be enthralling. I seriously enjoyed this book, and I will be looking out for the next in the series. I highly recommend this book.

Book provided for review.
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LibraryThing member annie.michelle
A good read, I enjoyed it.
What do you do when you find out your father is not your father?
this is how the first book in "The Grand Tour" trilogy starts out.
Cora comes home from teacher college only to find who she had always called father has had a stroke.
All her plans for the future are now put
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on hold as her family tries to save the family farm...until a wealthy older gentleman shows up and claiming to be her father who, if she will just go with him as his "unclaimed child" he will take care of her father and her mother, the woman he once loved.
So begins Cora's journey with her new found wealthy & powerful family on The Grand tour.
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LibraryThing member deanna13
Glamorous Illusions by Lisa T. Bergren gave a glimpse into the life of the super rich at the beginning of the twentieth century. The year is 1913 and Cora has returned home from Normal School for the summer. Her dad has a stroke and recovers quite well. Then he has another stroke and this time he
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is completely incapacitated. Cora is working herself into a state exhaustion to keep the small farm going in spite of the drought that is plaguing the entire area. Cora is in the barn working when a fine carriage appears at the door of the farmhouse and two very well dressed men alight from the carriage. One man, a doctor, goes inside to examine Cora’s father. The other man, Wallace Kensington, the copper king of Montana, is talking to Cora’s mother and when Cora walks up her mother introduces him and then he drops a bombshell. He is Cora’s birth father. She does not believe him but then her mother convinces her that what he says is true. He is there to offer her the deal of a lifetime. She is to take the Grand Tour of Europe with his other three children and three of their friends and in return he will send her father to the best hospital in Minnesota, pay her mother three times the worth of the farm, and pay for the rest of her education at the Normal School. Cora argues that she can keep the farm going but after talking more with her mother she accepts Kensington’s offer in spite of her doubts. During the Grand Tour not only will Cora get to know her brother and two sisters, but she will come to learn a lot about herself.

The author did an excellent job developing the characters and they definitely came alive on the pages of the book. There were lots of twists and turns in the plot and many times one was left wondering what was going to happen next. There were also several times when I was sitting on the edge of my chair wondering if Cora or someone else was going to get out of the trouble they were in. There was even one incident when death seemed likely for one of the travelers. The dialogue in the novel was very enjoyable and whether it was Cora talking with Will, the two youngest girls talking and giggling, or any other individual speaking, the dialogue was great. When the Bear, leader of the group, was lecturing about the museums, art works, buildings, cities, and other items I could almost see what the group was seeing and felt as if I were right there with the group. The author obviously did a great deal of research for this novel and it shows throughout the entire book.

I highly recommend this book to all who like to read historical novels about the lives and loves of the super rich in the early twentieth century.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from David C. Cook at Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
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LibraryThing member VanyaDrum
Whaaaaat???? Nooooo!!!! This can't be the end of it?!?!?! GRRRRRR!!!

As you can imagine, I finished reading this book, and I was extremely frustrated with it. You want to know why? BECAUSE!!!!!!!!

Because when that last chapter was over I found myself madly clicking the next button on the Kindle,
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wondering where the rest of the story had gone. Then I wondered... perhaps Netgalley didn't send the whole thing.. you know, it's possible... (not really). And, I had almost convinced myself of it too, until I saw this horrendous message on the last page "book 2 coming out in spring 2013... book 3 coming out in fall 2012" gah!!!!!!!!!

So, it turned out this was a trilogy. A TRILOGY!!!!!!!! How unbelievably cruel!!!!! What of us readers? How are we supposed to wait a whole year for the sequel of this amazing novel??? I want it NOW!!!!!!

Lisa T. Bergren, I want to let you know that even though, in my humble opinion, you may be the next Jane Austen, you are one mean, mean woman! Yes, that's right! Very mean, and cruel and heartless! Just so you know.

Okay, now that I vented out, I'm going to proceed to explain why exactly I felt so strongly about this novel.

First of all, the world building was incredible. Every step of the way I found myself right there beside the characters. Whether in Montana, aboard the Olympic, London or Paris, I could feel the atmosphere of each place and how it affected the personality of the characters. It was amazing, really.

I loved how Ms. Bergren handled the POV's. Cora, the lead female was speaking in first person, while Will's and Mr. Kensington's (who are the only other voices we hear) chapters were in third person. This way, Cora's experiences seemed more personal.. almost as if I was in her shoes.

The story itself was masterfully written, with tension, passion and all kinds of love, intertwining with an abundance of anger, hurt, hate and irritation that made all the characters incredibly realistic. You won't see a two dimensional character here. Not even the servants, or background characters were such. Which made me love every single person Ms. Bergren wrote about. From the main ones, like Cora and Will, to Vivian and Andrew, and even to Anna and Stuart and Antonio.

And now let's talk about the characters themselves.

*Cora - oh, she was an amazing young woman. She was bright and brave, outspoken and straight forward. I was impressed by her revolutionary ideas, her thinking process. Because in the beginning of the 20th century, women weren't supposed to voice their thoughts. They weren't even supposed to have thoughts. But Cora was a girl with an opinion, and she wasn't afraid to shout it out for the whole world to hear.
I hated how her eldest sister treated her most of the time - like she was undesired, trash, completely unloved and unwanted. But through it all, Cora continued to fight - if not for the love of her siblings, than for her own self. Because with the help of God she was beginning to discover that it isn't important what others think of you, how they perceive you. Nor is it important to change yourself so other people will like you. What's important is to find out who you are, and why God's placed you where you are. And that He's always there to help, to hold you high.

*Will - He started out as a sweet guy, and remained so all through the end. But the way he developed was pretty amazing. From interest, to confusion, to trying not to think about his impossible interest, to jealousy. And through it all, he remained the sweet guy, who was ready to protect a woman's honor at all costs. I think I fell in love with him - the way he carried himself, the way he risked his life for the sake of the clients he was taking on the Grand Tour. And the elderly couple he helped on board of Olympic... he was really someone special.

*Mr.Kensington - I don't think I ever hated him. True, he had an illegitimate child, but his wife knew, and he decided to do the right thing by both his family, and the maid he'd fallen in love with. I was honestly proud of the man! You can't see a mine-king of his class do all the things he did for Cora and her parents.

*Pierre de Richelieu was the charming man, for whom it was always easy to steal a woman's heart. I loved how he treated Cora, the special attention he showed her. I truly hope he'd fallen for her. But I don't believe she belongs with him. Anyway, he wasn't some stupid aristocrat, completely spoiled with no sense of responsibility or honor. Indeed, he was the exact opposite. And I have the feeling that he's being true to Cora.

I'm so curious as to where this story would go. What turns it would take. What adventures it would lead the characters to encounter. I can't explain just how much it moved me. So I'll definitely be waiting for the sequel.

NOTE: This book was kindly provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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LibraryThing member Violet_Nesdoly
Cora Diehl takes the train home from Normal School in Dillon Montana expecting to spend the summer on the farm with her parents. But why aren't they there to meet the train? The sight of her distraught mother beside her father's collapsed form on the barn floor catapults her into a summer like no
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other in Lisa T. Bergren's historical (1913) Cinderella tale Glamorous Illusions.

Cora discovers she is not who she always thought she was, Soon she finds herself in the middle of copper baron' Wallace Kensington's family carrying the burden of a scandalous beginning and trying to fit in with his spoilt and shallow offspring on a social and educational Grand Tour of England and the continent.

Will McCabe, nephew and assistant to the tour's chaperone Stuart McCabe falls for Cora on sight—as do most of the males who come into her orbit. Innocent Cora feels the chemistry with Will but she also welcomes the overtures of the rich and dashing Pierre de Richelieu. Both Cora and Will profess a Christian faith and both find in it an anchor through this tempestuous summer.

I found the plot's premise fascinating but Bergren's treatment left me feeling a little let down. Though Cora comes to some key realizations about herself by the end of the book, the romance story line left me disappointed and liking Cora less at the end of the book than the beginning. The way she changes under the pressures of wealth and status make me wonder if she'll end up almost as shallow as her half-sisters.

A set of discussion questions at the book's end will be helpful for book club readers.

This book is part of my own Kindle collection.
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LibraryThing member StephLaymon
I enjoyed Glamorous Illusions very much. The main character, Cora, is a strong girl who is flawed enough to be both believable and relatable. While her faith is tested and shaken, it is the thing that pulls her through her many trials and I found the Christian message especially heartwarming. My
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one and only complaint? I did not find the ending to be as complete as I would have liked and I am left feeling that I have to read the second installment in hopes of obtaining a complete story. I am, however, looking forward to the second book, but am not a fan of authors forcing it on their readers.
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LibraryThing member SheriRichey
A favorite trilogy of mine! After reading them, I see others comment on the Christian aspect and frankly, I didn't think about that at all when I read them. They are just historical clean romance and I enjoyed the stories in all 3 books.
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