For Cora Kensington, the journey of a lifetime takes unexpected twists. And her future—her very life—depends on the decisions she’ll make at each crossroad. As her European tour with her new-found family takes her through Austria, France, and Italy, an unseen enemy trails close behind. Meanwhile, a forbidden love continues to claim her heart, putting everyone’s plans in danger. And as Cora stays one step ahead of it all, what might need the most protection is her own heart, torn between the dramatic pursuit of a dashing Frenchman and a man who has been quietly staking claim to her affections all along. Love has dangers all its own. She must escape the bonds of the past and discover the faith to make the right choices, as each one has grave consequences. Quoted from Goodreads
It helps a lot if you've seen Downton Abby and Titanic. It may sound shallow, and if you're a great history buff or really into historical fiction, you may not need it, but it really did help me. The story takes place in 1913, a year after the Titanic sank and during the first season of Downton Abby. Both shows deal with the differences in class, the lifestyle of the super wealthy, and the quirks of the time period in general.
Now on to the book specifically. I enjoyed this second installment a lot more than the first one. I'm not going to claim it was better, because I'm not sure it actually was, but I enjoyed it a lot more. Part of that is due to my obsession with Downton Abby, I'll admit. I'm kind of into the period right now. Another big part of that is I knew more what to expect. When I read the first book, I had just finished the author's River of Time series (or I thought I had, I guess there's another book coming out, but that's a different post). I tend to have a hard time starting a second series by an author I've enjoyed. The writing style tends to be the same, but sometimes when a plot is totally different, I have a hard time switching gears. It happened when I read Stephanie Meyer's The Host and David Eddings The Redemption of Althalus, just to give a few examples. This time I was much more prepared for what I was getting, and I enjoyed it a lot.
The first book's tension mostly came for Cora's trying to gain acceptance with her half-siblings and people who couldn't accept her origins. This second book has a lot more action. Basically the threat they escaped at the ending of the first book is back in full force, and that provides most of the action/peril this time around.
I will caution you, this book with make you want to travel to Europe It's kind of a win/loose situation though. She gives some great history about the different places, which makes me really want to see the locations they're visiting. At the same time, it does tend to slow the action down a bit, giving the book a slower feel.
I especially enjoyed Cora's growing relationship with her siblings and their friends, Hugh in particular. He was kind of a creeper in the first book, but as Cora gets to know him better he is actually a pretty decent guy. It's kind of the same all around (with one or two notable exceptions I'm not going to mention here). In the first book I disliked almost everyone except Cora, Will, and her "dashing Frenchman" as the summary calls him. I found most of them much more likable this time around.
As for the love triangle, it's kind of fun. You get Will, who is the good, steady guy that fits well into Cora's past. Then we get Pierre, who is the fairy tale prince every girl dreams of meeting. Still, Cora makes her decision in this book, which I really appreciated. I won't tell you who she chooses, but it's a change resolving that sort of conflict in the second book. Maybe the other one will make an appearance in the third, but I don't think Cora is going to be conflicted about her choice.
This book is labeled as Young Adult Historical Christian Romance (yeah, that's a mouthful). I don't read a lot of Christian fiction, but I really liked the way Lisa Bergren handled it in this book. Having Cora and Will pray to God added more consistency to their characters and the time period in which they live, but it never overtakes the story. It just makes it feel more authentic.
This book also introduces a new character. I'll admit the moment he pulled out his camera I could tell where this was going, but there was a delightful twist I didn't see coming at all, so the first, rather obvious twist is okay.
All in all, this is a fun read. I liked some of the twists and the way the different relationships played out. In the end, this is an intriguing 3.5 stars for me. It did kind of lag in spots, but it really made me want to follow Cora's journey through Europe (minus the kidnappers). I especially love how Cora's relationship with her father ended, and I'm excited to see what happens in the third installment.