Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: The Lady Travelers Society #4
Release Date: August 27, 2019
WARNING – THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS!!
James and Violet Branham’s marriage started in scandal, when he was caught kissing Violet at his engagement party to another woman. They married two days later and the morning after, Violet overhears James telling his uncle Richard, the Earl of Ellsworth, how he expects married life to proceed. He intends to carry on as he always did and have them lead separate lives. Violet interrupts and is enraged, she thought (hoped) that James shared the same feelings she had for him and her heart is crushed to learn that he doesn’t care. In a fit of anger she declares that she NEVER wants to see him again and spends the next six years traveling the world and avoiding him. But when his uncle dies and places certain conditions in his will, James and Violet will have to decide if they can live as man and wife for the next three years or lose everything except the title.
To make it fun, Richard had enlisted the help of the woman he loved and lost – Ophelia “Effie” Higginbotham to oversee the conditions he has set for them, in turn she enlists her widowed friends Gwen and Poppy to help her. James and Violet learn of the wills stipulations together with Effie – they will have to cohabitate for Two Years, Ten Months, Two Weeks and Five Days, spending no more than 14 days apart per year, they must be seen together at least three times a week and there can be no negative rumors or gossip about them. If they succeed, they will inherit Richard’s fortune and properties, if they fail, James will have the title and nothing more. Violet agrees, but when the truth of how they ended up married comes out – she is furious and leaves James.
James has decided that Violet is the woman for him, admits that she always was and he was a fool to let her go, he plans to win her and when she leaves, this time, he follows. They traipse from Paris to Florence to Athens and many of the rumors he has heard about her over the years are debunked and they really get to know each other and fall in love, but when Violet has to decide whether or not she can really trust James, she puts not only their love, but James inheritance in question.
I thought this was a nice addition to the series, but…
SPOILER ALERT – don’t read anymore if you don’t want to know!!
I would have given it five stars if James had been faithful during their time apart – especially after learning the truth of their first kiss – I just couldn’t forgive him – I am glad Violet did, but it just felt like she was a doormat – she remained faithful and had the means to tell him to stick it and not agree to the terms of the will, instead she feels like she was partly to blame for not encouraging him to reconcile (WTF)!
Anyway, it was a well written, amusing second chance romance with a lot of witty banter, likable characters, a slow burn romance and finally a hard won HEA. While I was not thrilled with James’ cheating, it was glossed over and was not a focal point of the story, but cheating is cheating and that is a huge turn off for me in romance novels, so that was an automatic minus one star for me. If he could have kept it in his pants – this would have been a 5 star read for me. This is the fourth book in the series, but it is actually a prequel of sorts and can definitely be read as a stand alone.
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that was provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher.*