Cover Image: The Lady Travelers Guide to Happily Ever After

The Lady Travelers Guide to Happily Ever After

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Member Reviews

No matter what book you pick written by Victoria Alexander, you wont be disappointed.
The story is good, the character development is good and the romance is good in her books. This is a good historical fiction.
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The Lady Travelers Guide to Happily Ever After took me forever to read (no, really. Like 3 weeks!), so I wasn't sure how I would feel about the book in the end. However, though the couple frustrated me at times and the plot was slow, I ended up enjoying the story. 

I read this book off and on between other reads because, well, it didn't hold my attention. However, it's funny because the parts I did read, I actually liked. It just didn't have the grab, that thing that keeps me riveted to a book. 

I liked that Violet made James work for her affections, as he was more than a little bit of a jerk. He was self-absorbed, so I thought it was great that Violet didn't just forgive him. I also really liked the entertaining side characters and worldly plot, which was a nice change of pace from just British settings in historical romance. 

I did want a little more... something. More romance at the end, more drive to the plot. However, I ended up enjoyed it as it was, and I'd recommend it to historical romance lovers. 

*Copy provided in exchange for an honest review*
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Viola Branham has traveled the world for the last six years and it's certainly been an adventure. When she's summoned home to London after the death of the Earl of Ellsworth and the unexpected stipulations of his will leave her reeling. And into forced cohabitation with her husband whom she hasn't seen in those same six years. Can past hurts and misdeeds be forgiven to bring a true reconciliation?
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Another very cute book in this series! extremely well written and I loved the characters! Victoria Alexander is a must follow for those who enjoy historical romance!
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This is my first Victoria Alexander story AND my first of the Lady Travelers series. I've since put the rest on my tbr list. It caught my attention with Traveling in the title. I can't believe I'm just hearing about this series.

The story held my attention from page one. I had to see how the story played out. My heart ached for Violet but not for James. I loved visiting the the different cities and seeing them through the eyes of the author.

I loved Violet. She did her growing pre story. It's amazing what 5 years of traveling the world will do for a person's character development.  I eventually came to like James. He has the most growing to do and is somewhat like-able by the conclusion of the story.

I received a copy for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own,
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This sounded like such fun – and I keep saying this, but I should research more before I request. I didn’t realise that this was number four in a series until almost the end. Which kind of explains the three random old ladies that turn up in the middle of the story but to be honest, this reads perfectly well as a stand alone.

It started off very promising, with the aftermath of James and Violet’s marry-in-haste wedding after he kissed her at a party and everyone saw. For James, it was a way to get out of an engagement he didn’t want to be in and he did do the right thing by marrying Violet after he ruined her. But he made it clear that he wanted them to live separately, rather than as a real marriage and so Violet negotiated escape, spending six years on the continent. Now James’ uncle has passed away and James has inherited his title….but in order to get his properties and wealth James must abide by the stipulations of his uncle’s will which states that James and Violet must live together for 3 years, spend no more than 14 nights a year apart and be seen as a married couple in company regularly.

I really enjoyed the premise. James and Violet have spent six years apart since the day after their wedding and although Violet has returned to England quite regularly, she and James have not crossed paths as he always leaves his uncle’s home before she arrives. Now they will have to share a home and, for all appearances, live and socialise as a married couple. James’ uncle has made it clear that he thought they belonged together, James just had some growing up to do. Now it seems that his will stipulations will help get that ball rolling.

I think the thing that ruined this for me, was James. I didn’t like him. I didn’t like him in the past, when bored and trapped, instead of just being honest, he kissed a young woman. It wasn’t supposed to be witnessed by everyone, but it was. And even though he did marry Violet and save her reputation, he shouldn’t have had to because he shouldn’t have ruined it. Then he just wants to cast her aside, live separately. No wonder she leaves and when Violet comes back, she’s a much different woman to the one she was when she left. Travelling and living abroad has definitely given her more confidence and poise, she’s not so easily embarrassed and quietspoken as she was beforehand. I thought Violet’s reasons for agreeing to Uncle Richard’s will stipulations were a bit weak – she’s been away from James for six years. She claims he allowed her her freedom but he didn’t so much allow her as kind of be completely uninterested in her and what she did. It was Richard who provided her with the means to live as she wished, and I guess she wants to fulfil his wishes but…..he’s dead. He isn’t going to derive any happiness out of it.

And current-timeline James is to be honest, as immature as six-years-ago James. I found him really quite annoying. I think he’s supposed to have this irrepressible boyish sort of charm with these cheeky grins and winks and haha I’m handsome and amusing aren’t I? type character but I just found him hypocritical and annoying. Put it this way – one person has been actually faithful in this marriage and it isn’t James. One person spends a lot of time worrying about and being angry about whether or not someone actually was faithful – and that isn’t Violet. I found his preoccupation with it ridiculous, especially given his own behaviour. I know it’s common for the time….men were permitted to have mistresses, especially men with titles and money. And it wasn’t acceptable for women to do the same thing, even if their husband had abandoned them or whatever. But James’ endless speculation and jealousy got tedious to read about.

I liked Violet. I thought it was pretty obvious from just a couple of scenes that she’d probably had a very unpleasant upbringing and had been constantly mistreated by her mother. She had done what she pleased, rather than just stay in London and allow James to run roughshod all over her or ship her off to another property. She’d travelled and learned and spoke several languages and when they go back to Europe as part of this story, it’s clear she’s in her element whereas James is quite out of sorts. It highlights for me the differences between the two. James had every opportunity to travel, as did most moneyed young men of the day and he completely wasted it. Not only does Violet soak everything in and make the most of every opportunity she also uses her privilege to help others as well. In the end I thought Violet deserved far better than James for a life partner. Someone who definitely had more respect for her and knew her better.

Even though I didn’t like James, the fact that I liked Violet and the premise means that I think I’d read another book from this series, or from the author. But for me, the spark for them as a couple just wasn’t there, I didn’t feel it at all whilst reading the book.
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Violet and James were forced into a quick marriage to avoid scandal.  The following morning James is speaking with his uncle the Earl of Ellsworth about the marriage and makes a comment about never wanting to marry Violet.  Violet overhears and tells him she'd like to travel - at his expense of course - and never see him again.

Fast forward a few years and the Earl of Ellsworth has died leaving James as the Earl of Ellsworth.  However, the will stated that Violet and James had to spend the same amount of time together that they spent apart if either of them wants to have money.  If they spend more than two weeks apart neither of them gets anything and will be left near penniless.  

It was fun watching their antics as they travelled across Europe and addressed what happened while they were apart and James tries to charm Violet into wanting to stay with him.  

#TheLadyTravelersGuideToHappilyEverAfter #NetGalley
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The Lady Travelers Guide to Happily Ever After by Victoria Alexander is book 4 in The Lady Travelers Society Series.  This is the story of James Branham and Viola Branham.  I have read the previous book but feel you could make this a standalone book if you wish to do so. 
A few years ago Viola and James where caught in a compromising position.  Viola had a crush on him so it would be no hardship for her but on their wedding night she overhears James saying that they will not be a normal married couple living apart an such.  Of course she confronts him and gives him way she though he wanted by not being with her.   Now in their present day, the Uncle dies.  For James to get his inheritance and for Viola to continue her lifestyle , they must pretend to be married and together for three years.  Of course the Lady Travelers Society which are three elderly ladies will monitor that they are living up to their part of the bargain. 
Ms. Alexander is a treasured writer for me.  Always enjoy her stories.
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This series has been interesting in time period and travel details.  The plot was different than what I had come to expect.

I had a difficult time engaging with the the main characters.  Years of running away, and hurt feelings have caused a strained marriage.  I was rooting for them to become reconciled but became impatient along the way.

Sadly, I liked this one the least in the series.

I received a free ARC from Netgalley.
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Viola and James got married after they were caught in a compromising situation. The morning after her wedding night, Viola learns that James has no desire to be married. From the day forward, they live separate lives. That is until James's beloved uncle passes away. In his will, he demands that Viola and James live together as husband and wife for the next 3 years with no scandal attached to their name...

Viola was in love with her husband when they married and was heartbroken when she learned that he didn't want the marriage. Now that they are forced to spend time together, she is not about to let herself get hurt again. But the more time she spends with James, just let her know that she never got over him. Can she learn to trust him enough to give him her heart again?

James has done a lot of growing up in the time that he and Viola have been apart. He deeply regrets the actions that caused the two of them to go their separate way. He soon realizes that he has loved Viola since the very beginning and is desperate to earn her respect and love. Can he show her that their love deserves a chance?

I absolutely loved Viola and James's story!! It was a reunion story and those are always one of my favorites. I loved that James's uncle concocted this plan to get these two back together. He knew from watching and talking to them over the years, that they were in love and just needed to admit it to the other. I've really enjoyed this series and I'm hopeful that Alexander has more 'traveling" to come!!
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So we have a story about second chances and it was difficult for me since I hate cheating in any form and I went into this hating James, hating him. So James and Viola get caught in a kiss and are forced to marry but he never wanted that and informs her of that and she was broken hearted and goes travelling atleast she has that to turn to, years later James uncle dies and in his wil informs them that in order for them to get their inheritance they have to live together or lose everything, that would a bitter pill, especially for Viola. It seems hard for can she do this living with James, hearing of all of his dalliances? They both needed to own up to their mistakes and see how each has grown..
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London  -   1882

Richard Branham, the Earl of Ellsworth, age 72, is preparing to speak to his nephew and heir, James Branham.  James had come to live with his uncle when he was 9-years-old after his parents had died.  It appears that James who was engaged to Marie, was caught kissing Violet on the terrace during a ball.  Now, he is married to Violet, but confesses to his uncle that he is not ready for marriage.  As he admits this, he is overheard by Violet herself.  He also says he thinks they should go their separate ways.  Deeply hurt, Violet lashes out at James.  She refuses to move into a house of her own and Lord Ellsworth mists she remain at Ellsworth House.  But she says she wants to travel and never wants to see James again.

London  -  Six years later

Back in London Violet meets up with James at a ball.  He is now the new Earl of Ellsworth since his uncle passed away.  Richard’s will stated that for James to inherit all of his properties, he and Violet must live together for 3 years.  They must be seen together looking happy at least 3 times a week and there must be no scandal about either of them.  To make sure his strict rules are followed, 3 elderly women, one of whom Richard loved, come to be with and watch them.

James soon finds that Violet is no longer the quiet, biddable young woman he married some years ago.  She is now independent, out spoken, and knows what she wants from life.  They are determined to fulfill Richard’s requests. 

Violet had loved traveling all those years and James doesn’t care for it, even getting sick when on a ship.  But they go to Italy and Greece and he is amazed at how Violet knows so many people and speaks the language.  Will they learn to become friends and have a true marriage?

Violet loves art but James couldn’t care less.  However, I did have to laugh at some of his snarky comments about art in general.  

This is a good book and I enjoyed the plot, but it was WAY too long,  to the point that it became repetitive and almost boring.  It should have been cut back quite a lot.

Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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A true lady traveler! 

I had a whole lot of trouble identifying with Violet Hagen and James Branham, heir to the Earl of Ellsworth. After being married to "avoid scandal," I admire that under difficult circumstances Violet hied off to the Continent and grew into the woman she wouldn't have if she'd been left to languish as a "responsibility."
Then when James inherited his title, it came with conditions attached. Violet and in his will James' uncle stipulated that James and Violet had to live as man and wife, presenting themselves to society as a reconciled couple, with no hint of scandal.
Personally I thought Uncle Richard should have not played Cupid from beyond the grave. Violet should have stayed on the Continent and made her life there. But Violet was very attached to Richard, and it seems she'd always loved James. Forgiving him is entirely another matter.
To me James just never seemed to be true enough for Violet. All that boyish charm made me want to gag. Violet did lead James a merry chase around Europe. But James was still a tad to self satisfied for my taste.
As an aside, I will say I was pleased with Cleo's outcome.
I loathed Violet's mother and her sister Caroline, and I hope the sister has her comeuppance at some time in the future. Violet's mother is a bully, and the apple obviously didn't fall far from the tree with Caroline.
The revelation about the circumstances around "the kiss" does somewhat speak to me and Violet and James' story ends as a romance should. However the spark was not there for me.
BTW, I did rather like the cover.

A HARLEQUIN - Romance ARC via NetGalley
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This novel comes before the previous one I read in the overall timeline and involves the meddling of the three longtime friends who later become the lady travelers to a much lesser degree. Still, it holds true to the strong characterization, well-written dialogue, and mix of amusing and heartfelt encounters that drew me into the other novel.

The death of Uncle Richard, a man both James and Violet, the woman he married in haste, respected and loved, beings this story. Or rather, it begins with the reading of Uncle Richard’s will and its strict conditions that attempt what he has been unable to for the past few years. Namely, getting his nephew and Violet to recognize the mistake they’ve made by keeping apart.

Just as they respected and loved him, Uncle Richard returned the affection. He helped both achieve their potential as they matured, Violet by exploring the world and James by giving up his wild youth in favor of maintaining the title and properties he would someday inherit. The three elderly friends become involved when one receives a letter in which Uncle Richard professes his unrequited love and asks that she help him bring about a reconciliation. He believes James and Violet are fated to be together despite a horrible beginning resulting in Violet extracting a promise that she never had to see James again.

In rare, generous, moments, Violet knows her fascinating life over the past six years is due to James’s generosity. She’s also aware of the family history that has seeped in the households and properties he would lose if she didn’t play along. She also feels less risk thanks to Uncle Richard’s good planning, and so has the moral and financial high ground. She plans to extract a little revenge for his unthinking destruction of her reputation six years before.

James has matured in their time apart, but still manages to stumble over himself and make many mistakes on the path to convincing her of his true feelings. Violet does as well, but to a lesser degree, at least at first. The main and secondary characters offered many opportunities for issues, both amusing ones and those less so amusing, bringing the characters into more well-rounded form. This is especially true for Marcus, James’s solicitor and best friend, and Cleo, Violet’s secretary/companion become best friend since they met six years earlier.

I have a soft spot for second chances, and though James and Violet barely managed a first chance, it was delightful to ride along on their journey to discover both each other and themselves while burdened by past decisions and assumptions made by those around them. Secrets and assumptions did play a part in their struggles, but the main issue was one of trust. They’d both been subjects of gossip, and Violet wasn’t saying how much truth could be found in hers while James found his more embarrassing than anything else. There’s even a villain, though he’d consider himself the hero for reasonable reasons.

While I could predict the plot twists in advance (a particular talent of mine), I was nicely surprised by the effect the twist had on the characters. It gave both Violet and James the chance to stretch, grow, and mature into the people they had the potential to become, making their happily ever after just that much sweeter.

It was a delightful, amusing, and fun read, living up to my hopes in every measure.

P.S. I received this ARC from the publisher through NetGalley and am delighted to offer my honest review.

P.P.S. True to the pattern set in the previous novel I read in this series, despite the rather Georgette Heyer tone, there is at least one ahem descriptive intimate scene and some rather blushingly indiscreet conversations
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The Lady Travelers Guide to Happily Ever After is the fourth book in Victoria Alexander's The Lady Travelers Society series.  This story totally stands alone.  Apparently this book takes place before the previous installments, so no worries about being lost.  If I had to pick just one word to describe this story, it would be "delightful" .

Six years ago Violet was attending the ball in honor of her friend Marie's engagement to James Branham.  James was convinced by his friends to give Marie a real kiss.  However, he ended up kissing Violet, unfortunately in front of witnesses.  James and Violet are quickly married.  Violet had feelings for James, so imagine how she felt the morning after their wedding night to overhear James tell his Uncle Richard that he didn't want to be married to her.  Devastated - and angry - Violet decides she wants to leave England and travel far from James.  Now beloved Uncle Richard dies, and he has a scheme to get his two favorite people together...They have to stay together for almost three years as husband and wife, or James will lose his inheritance.

I absolutely LOVED James and Violet together!  James knew he made a huge mistake and wanted his wife back.  Violet was no longer the quiet young lady she was when she left, and she is still hurt and angry.  The banter between the two was hysterical.  At one point she leaves England to travel again to see if James follows her.  He does, and you know it's love, as he suffers horribly from motion sickness but goes anyway.  There is also a nice little side romance with the best friends of James and Violet.  But it's the sparkling repartee that makes this story absolutely delightful!

I received an ARC of this book courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley.  I received no compensation for my review, and all thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.
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I found this book to be enjoyable. It is book four in this series But I read it as a complete standalone, with no familiarity to the author or the previos books. The storyline offers plenty of tension, humor and emotions. I liked Violet the fact that she didn't linger around to serve as a doormat and millstone to a husband that didn't want her. In so many ways I thought James was a real jerk. His attitude, his actions and his big mouth often made me want to smack him. You do see character growth but it lacked a bit of meaning for me because I did not feel that these two really had much of an emotional connection at all to begin with and neither really showed any vested interest in a relationship, never mind a real marriage. So even though it was a second chance story, it didn't really feel like it. In my opinion the humor and banter are what I believe make this book worth reading.
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This was a fun book and probably my favorite of the series. Although it is the fourth and final book, chronologically it is the first as it takes place before the others and before the Lady Travelers Society was founded. The founding members do have a part in this story, but not as much as in the others.

In this book, we have Violet and James. It opens with their attendance at the ball where James's engagement is to be announced. Instead, he is caught kissing Violet, ending his engagement and forcing him to marry Violet to avoid scandal. The morning after their wedding, Violet overhears James tell his uncle that he's not ready for marriage and he only married her to save her from ruin. Heartbroken because she was in love with him when he suggests that they live separately and live their lives as before, she agrees - with two stipulations. She wants the money to be able to travel, and she never wants to see him again.

Six years later, they are brought back together by Uncle Richard's death. James inherits the title, but Richard had a stipulation in his will. James and Violet were to live together for three years, be seen together in public, appear happy, create no scandals, and not spend any more than two weeks apart during any year. If they do not, both will lose everything.

I loved watching Violet and James get to know each other again. Both have changed a lot in the six years they've been apart. James grew up, leaving his irresponsible ways behind him. He learned the things he needed to know as Ellsworth's heir, and discovered that he enjoyed what he was doing. Violet is no longer the quiet girl who blends into the background. Her travels gave her new confidence in herself, and she likes standing on her own two feet. Before Richard's death, James understood the mistakes he made and realized that he wanted Violet back in his life. Now he needs to convince her of that fact. Standing in the way are the rumors that have followed each of them in the years they've been apart.

Violet isn't in any hurry to forgive James for breaking her heart. She will live by the rules, but keep her heart protected. In the meantime, she is determined to make him atone for his mistakes. In the beginning, they stay in England and take their place in society. Violet is nervous, fearing that she will return to the mouse she used to be. It is pretty clear she has nothing to worry about, especially during an especially satisfying confrontation with her mother and sister. Violet holds her own quite well, and though she didn't appreciate it at the time, James also weighs in with unexpected zeal. James uses all his charm to show Violet that he's changed, and she realizes that she's in danger of falling for him all over again.

Determined to get back to the life where she is comfortable, Violet gives James an ultimatum. He comes with her on her travels or forfeits his inheritance. I felt a little bit bad for James as he had a good reason for not liking to travel, but it was also crucial for him to see Violet in her element. An eye-opening conversation with his friend Marcus made James realize that before he could win Violet's heart he had to regain her trust. I had so much fun watching their travels from France to Italy to Greece. In each place, James gained new insight into the woman he married. It was fun to see his misconceptions overcome one by one, and see the truth behind each of them. Violet also began to understand that James underwent his own transformation and slowly began to trust him again. Their conversations were great, with a good combination of fun and seriousness. But just as things are looking up for them, someone from Violet's past shows up with a revelation that rocks Violet's growing feelings for James. A heartbreaking confrontation is followed by some soul-searching on Violet's part. James also goes through some self-examination but has a little more trouble getting to where he can fix his mistakes. The ending was great, and I loved the epilogue.

I also enjoyed the secondary characters of Marcus, James's friend and lawyer, and Chloe, Violet's companion/secretary and friend. Marcus does a good job as the voice of reason, keeping James on track and trying to keep him from trouble. Chloe is firmly on Violet's side, and her dislike of James is apparent. The interactions between Marcus and Chloe were terrific and made a nice contrast with James and Violet. Also, Effie, Poppy, and Gwen had their important role as arbiters of whether James and Violet fulfilled the conditions of Richard's will.

Another thing I enjoyed was the author's descriptions of the places Violet and James visited. They were detailed and vivid enough that I felt as though I was there. I liked that it wasn't just the well-known locations; there was also a feeling of everyday reality.
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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 and SPOILER ALERT – don’t read anymore if you don’t want to know!!
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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.*
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The Lady Traveler's Guide to Happily Every After has everything I want in an historical romance. It was fun and engaging and I was rooting for the main characters the whole time. My one minor qualm was a small, red-herring of a plot-line that I just didn't think was necessary but thankfully it didn't take up too much time and didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book overall.
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The Lady Travelers Guide to Happily Ever After (The Lady Travelers Society, #4) by Victoria Alexander  Thank you to the publisher and #NetGalley for allowing me to preview this book.  Such fun with old friends and new ones.  Violet ...married to avoid scandal....James ..kissed the wrong girl...or did he?  Like always Victoria brings you into to book and keeps you there... the laughs, tears, angst, adventure, misunderstandings, travels and steam all get us to a very HEA.  

Reasons I enjoyed this book:
Romantic Entertaining Happily Ever After  Informative Witty Wonderful characters Great world building Easy-to-read Steamy Page-turner
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