Stevie‘s review of The Lady Travelers Guide to Scoundrels and Other Gentlemen (Lady Travelers Society, Book 1) by Victoria Alexander
Historical Romance published by HQN Books 23 May 17
Generally I’m all over anything about Victorian lady adventurers, so this book looked like it’d be just the introduction I needed to a new (to me, at any rate) author. Even the idea of a pair of rather reluctant travellers searching for the missing relative of one of them didn’t dissuade me, as I had hopes of meeting this vanished lady adventure at some point in the story.
Sadly, I was rather disappointed with the execution of this promising idea. India Prendergast is concerned that her former guardian has not kept up the correspondence begun when she left to travel around Europe and becomes convinced that her ‘aunt’ (their relationship is actually a little more distant) has met with some misfortune as a result of receiving insufficient guidance from the group of elderly women con artists masquerading as The Lady Travelers Society. The three ringleaders are all wives of famous explorers, now fallen on hard times in widowhood, who have conceived of a scheme to sell lectures and a Guide to other women who dream of travelling beyond the English Channel.
Meanwhile, a male relative of one of the women has also been tasked with uncovering their deception, mainly in the hope that the responsibility will encourage him to take on more responsibilities: such as those that come with the Earldom he is due to inherit. When Derek Saunders, the Earl-to-be, learns of India’s missing relative, he becomes involved in the search as well, convinced that finding the missing woman will give him all the evidence he needs to complete his original mission. He enlists the help of the current Earl of Danby, who doesn’t entirely believe in either Derek or India’s investigative powers and so instructs Derek to ensure India gets no further than Paris, while the Earl himself sends out professional detectives to find the missing woman.
And that’s where it all went wrong for me. Derek’s subterfuge, intended to keep India in one place, proved embarrassing for her, both personally and financially, and it took forever for the trick to be revealed. At which point India was far less angry than Derek deserved, thus ignoring all her previous suspicions as to his character now being proved at least partially right.
I also felt that the characters didn’t quite fit into their – or any other – period, and that the descriptions of Paris fell a little flat for me. Not a series or author I’ll be following any further.
Really, it’s too much to expect any normal man to behave like a staid accountant in order to inherit the fortune he deserves to support the lifestyle of an earl. So when Derek Saunders’s favorite elderly aunt and her ill-conceived—and possibly fraudulent—Lady Travelers Society loses one of their members, what’s a man to do but step up to the challenge? Now he’s escorting the world’s most maddening woman to the world’s most romantic city to find her missing relative.
While India Prendergast only suspects his organization defrauds gullible travelers, she’s certain a man with as scandalous a reputation as Derek Saunders cannot be trusted any farther than the distance around his very broad shoulders. As she struggles not to be distracted by his wicked smile and the allure of Paris, instead of finding a lost lady traveler, India just may lose her head, her luggage and her heart.
Read an excerpt.