Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Book Review/Giveaway!! The Lady Traveler's Guide to Larceny with a Dashing Stranger, by Victoria Alexander


The Lady Traveler's Guide to Larceny 
with a Dashing Stranger
(The Lady Traveler's Society, Book 2)
Victoria Alexander
Mass Market Paperback, 538 pages
November 28, 2017
Historical Fiction, Historical Romance


Join the Lady Travelers Society in their latest romantic misadventure, from #1 New York Times bestselling author Victoria Alexander!

She must secure her future

A lady should never be obliged to think of matters financial! But when Lady Wilhelmina Bascombe’s carefree, extravagant lifestyle vanishes with the demise of her husband, her only hope lies in retrieving a family treasure—a Renaissance masterpiece currently in the hands of a cunning art collector in Venice. Thankfully, the Lady Travelers Society has orchestrated a clever plan to get Willie to Europe, leading a tour of mothers and daughters…and one curiously attentive man.

He must reclaim his heritage

Dante Augustus Montague’s one passion has long been his family’s art collection. He’s finally tracked a long-lost painting to the enchanting Lady Bascombe. Convinced that the canvas had been stolen, he will use any means to reclaim his birthright—including deception. But how long before pretend infatuation gives way to genuine desire?

Now they’re rivals for a prize that will change everything

Willie and Dante know they’re playing with fire in the magical moonlit city. Their common quest could compromise them both…or lead them to happily-ever-after.

A complimentary copy of this book was 
provided to me by the publisher. 
This did not affect my honestly 
enthusiastic review!

I had heard about Victoria Alexander before, but had never read any of her novels. Now, having greatly enjoyed this one, I have added her to my list of favorite historical romance writers. And I can hardly wait to read more of her work! 

This was a very engaging read, from start to finish. The characters are wonderfully brought to life, the plot is a very original, entertaining one, and the setting....what could be more wonderful than to visit the great, history-filled cities of Europe -- Paris, Venice, and Rome? Even Monaco is included. Romance readers who are also armchair travelers will definitely love this!

Lady Wilhelmina Bascombe (nicknamed "Willie") is quirky, fun, and independent. I wish I had a friend like her, for she is also kindhearted and staunchly loyal. Widowed two years back, she's now intent on making her own way in the world, without the need to marry for money that was so prevalent in the society of the time. (This story takes place in the year 1889.) Her financial situation is precarious at best, due to the bad financial decisions made by her late husband while he was alive. But she herself had been irresponsible, as well. They had both been interested mostly in one thing: having fun. Now it's time to pay the piper.....

The key to Willie's ability to secure her independence is reclaiming a painting given to her by her beloved grandmother. This painting, created by the (fictional) Renaissance master, Portinari, is now in the hands of an Italian conte. Willie's husband, George, had used it as collateral to obtain a loan from the man. Now Willie is intent on repaying that loan, getting the valuable painting back, and selling it so as to live from the proceeds for many years to come. 

As part of her plan, and due to her low finances, Willie decides to become a tour guide for The Lady Traveler's Society, which has organized a tour for several Americans -- mothers and daughters all -- wishing to tour the most important European cities. Willie will use this tour to get to Venice, reclaim her painting, and then immediately return to England. She does feel some guilt about abandoning the tour members, but believes she has no other choice.

What Willie had not counted on, however, was the presence of one Dante Augustus Montague, a passionate art lover, and curator of his grandfather's museum. He is just as intent on claiming the Portinari, which he believes belongs to him just as firmly as Willie believes it to be hers. So he and his comically acerbic sister, Rosalind, who is also known as Lady Richfield, join the tour. It's Dante's plan to befriend Willie, gain her trust, and attempt to persuade her to give up the Portinari to him.

Neither Willie nor Dante had expected the strong attraction that springs up between them. Thus ensues a very humorous battle of wills and wit, while the reader goes along for the delightfully fascinating ride. Both of these well-drawn protagonists are well-matched. While they are getting to know and fall in love with each other, Dante's deception becomes an obstacle to their romance. As Shakespeare so wisely stated in "A Midsummer Night's Dream", "The course of true love never did run smooth". That's definitely the case here! During the course of this romantic relationship, the reader is witness to lots of very entertaining, witty dialogues between these two characters, neither of which is willing to back down. Sparks and fun ensue!

Rounding out this wonderful romp of a story are the equally wonderful secondary characters. I grew to love them just as much as the two protagonists! Willie had experienced the loss of her society friends after the death of her husband, and now she has made new ones. All of the Americans -- mothers and daughters alike -- become not only her friends, but staunch allies, as well. It was really touching to see how they all banded around Willie. Furthermore, all of them, as well as Rosalind, firmly supported the romance between Willie and Dante, even pressuring him to decide which he wanted more -- Willie, or the painting.

I loved reading about these wonderful fictional people! Marian and Jane, traveling with their daughters, are both great characters, as are their girls. Geneva is especially interesting, as she's a bookworm with an ironically sharp eye for intrigue. And there's also a second romance involved, as Harriet, Rosalind's own daughter, is intent on continuing her relationship with a young man whom her mother disapproves of.

There's one sex scene in this novel, but it's a very romantic one, without too much graphic detail. One gets the definite feeling that Willie and Dante are very much in love, and marriage will be the eventual outcome. Their moments together are tender, and very touching. He and Willie are well-matched in this arena, as well.

Although the plot is interesting, it is a gently flowing one. This is really more of a character-driven novel. As the group travels around Europe, the reader really gets to know them all, to see what makes them tick, to see these great friendships, as well as the romance between the two leads, develop. And it all plays out amidst the beautiful cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, the masterfully engineered Eiffel Tower, the romantic Venetian canals, and the glittering Venetian palazzos

There is indeed some intrigue, though, as Willie and Dante eventually become temporary allies in a crazy scheme to get the painting back. So there are some surprises involved, as well as a few plot twists. Mostly, however, the novel is a skillful exploration of character. This is something I totally enjoy reading about!

Romantic, witty, endearingly delightful, this novel with the comically long title is a thoroughly entertaining, page-turning read! These great characters totally immersed this reader in their totally compelling story, and other readers will definitely find themselves quickly coming to love them and their wonderful, realistically depicted tour. 

As a bonus, this book also includes a novella titled The Rise and Fall of Reginald Everheart, which is an additional treat chronicling the further adventures of The Lady Traveler's Society! 

Historical romance has never been so much fun, as well as so very enchanting, not to mention fascinating! I have nothing but praise for this novel, so I'm giving it the highest rating! Kudos to Ms. Alexander! 


Purchase Links

a Rafflecopter giveaway


The winner's book will be provided 
by TLC Book Tours.
Only US/CANADA residents may 
enter this giveaway.
The winner will have 48 hours to 
claim their prize. After that, 
another winner will be chosen. 
Good luck to everyone who enters!!

 New York Times bestselling author Victoria Alexander was an award-winning television reporter until she discovered fiction was much more fun than real life. She turned to writing full time and is still shocked it worked out.

Since the publication of her first book in 1995, she has written thirty-one full-length novels and six novellas. The Perfect Wife—originally published in 1996 and reissued in March, 2008—hit #1 on the New York Times list. Sixteen of her books are bestsellers hitting the New York Times, USA Today and/or Publishers Weekly bestseller lists. With books translated into more than a dozen different languages, she has readers around the world and has twice been nominated for Romance Writers of America's prestigious RITA award. In 2009, she was given a Career Achievement Award from RT Bookclub, and was named Historical Storyteller of the year in 2003. In 2008, she was the keynote speaker for the Romance Writers of America annual conference in San Francisco. Victoria credits much of her writing success to her experiences as a reporter.

 Victoria claims her love of romance and journalism is to due to the influence of her favorite comic book character: Lois Lane, a terrific reporter and a great heroine who pursued Superman with an unwavering determination. And why not? He was extremely well- drawn.

Victoria grew up traveling the world as an Air Force brat. Today, she lives in Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband and her dogs.

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  1. Great review as always Maria. As you know I have been reading a lot of Anthony Trollope. His books take place at roughly the same time. They often address the issue of marrying for money. It seems that men also did it, especially those belonging to aristocratic families that has fallen on hard times. People ruining themselves through extravagant and reckless lifestyles, as is also depicted in this book, also seemed common at the time. I guess things have not changed all that much in this regard!

    1. Hi, Brian!

      Thank you so much for the compliment! :) :)

      Indeed, the issue of marrying for money was a prevalent one at the time. I'm sure it still exists today. We just need to look at Melania Trump.....

      Yes, men did this, as well. I've certainly come across this in previous Regency romance novels I've read. However, men probably didn't do it as much as women, since men have always had more options. In 19th-century aristocratic society (as I'm sure happens today, as well), both men and women took lovers. So they would "do their duty" by marrying a socially-sanctioned person, whom they usually didn't love, and then have their true loves "on the side".....

      As you say, people at that time, and nowadays as well, have often gone into ruin due to their extravagant and irresponsible use of money. No, things have DEFINITELY not changed! Human nature has pretty much remained the same throughout the centuries, although I would hope that we are becoming more compassionate as we go along, even though we have a completely NON-COMPASSIONATE president now, unfortunately.....

      I know you're not into romance, but I greatly enjoyed the one in this novel! Willie and Dante are on equal terms. Their banter and even verbal spars were SO delightful to read! And the ending was just PERFECT!!

      I will have to go on to read at least some of Trollope's novels. From your EXCELLENT reviews, I can see that they're very compelling reading!

      Thanks for the GREAT comment!! <3 :)

  2. "What kind of adventures would you like to participate in with a dashing stranger?" Any stranger I have an adventure with should definitely have dash, but I also demand brio! Brio is a must! And most likely in Venice, which is why this book so intrigues me!

    1. Hi, John!

      Oh, you're so funny! Lol. Yes, a stranger one wants to have adventures with should DEFINITELY have both dash and brio! I totally agree! :)

      It must be SO wonderful, not to mention fascinating, to visit Venice.....only in books, for me, unfortunately.... :(

      Thanks for entering the giveaway, and commenting!! Good luck!! <3 :)

  3. Replies
    1. Hi, Heather!

      You're welcome! I really enjoyed this book!

      Thanks for commenting!! <3 :)


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