Splendor by Anna Godbersen

Splendor is the 4th and final book in The Luxe series. If you haven't read this series, I highly recommend it! A big thanks to my friend Erlynn for turning me on to these books. They are very quick and enjoyable reads, and the writing style keeps you entertained throughout.

I sometimes find myself disappointed at the end of the series, but I have to say that I was quite happy with how Anna Godbersen wrapped everything up. I don't think there were any lose ends, and although I might have liked to see some of the characters end up with happier endings, for the most part I think each of the characters got what they deserved.

I have really come to enjoy Anna Godbersen's writing and plan to check out her Bright Young Things series next, which takes place in New York during the 1920's.

**Spoiler Alert**
If you haven't read the book/series and don't want to know how it ends, STOP READING NOW!!

Okay, so Envy leaves off with Diana running away in the night in pursuit of Henry who has decided to enlist in the army to get away from Penelope and his father's oppressive rule. Turns out that he isn't doing much soldiering, as his father has pulled some strings and has him posted where there is no action going on and he is relatively useless. Diana happens upon him one night in a bar and the two of them pick up with their romance where they left off. However, they are discovered by Henry's captain and shipped back to New York, where Henry promises to leave Penelope.

Henry does manage to grow a backbone and tell his father that he is in love with Diana and that he is divorcing Penelope and moving to Paris to be with Diana. The shock of Henry's pronouncement causes his father to have a heart attack and die. Henry then finds himself in charge of his father's vast estate. The guilt he feels over the death of his father and the sense of responsibility he now feels actually transforms Henry into a man. Unfortunately it also prevents him from being able to run away to Paris with Diana. Henry, no longer feeling the weight of his father's expectations, plans to divorce Penelope and take Diana as his wife and settle into the life they would have had if he had not married Penelope in the first place.

Henry does in fact buy Diana an engagement ring and does propose, but Diana rejects him in the end. Diana, while still very much in love with Henry, knows that she cannot stay and be the second wife that everyone will compare and whisper about, and she sets sail for Paris without Henry. I applaud Diana for standing up for herself and being unwilling to compromise her own happiness. It saddens me that she didn't get the happy ending that she was hoping for, because she is one of my favorite characters in this series. However, she is poised for bigger and better loves and adventure. I would love to read about Diana's travel adventures if Anna Godbersen were so inclined to write about them.

Meanwhile Penelope, who has decided she doesn't give a damn about maintaining her perfect reputation as Mrs. Henry Schoonmaker, rushes into an affair with the Prince of Bavaria. Penelope is determined to secure the prince and make herself over into a princess, and employs all her games of seduction and entrapment. However, in the perfect example of karma, Penelope is the one who ends up getting played. After using Penelope for his own pleasure, he returns to his native land engaged to another woman. Penelope is left with a ruined reputation and a husband who does want her. In the end however, Henry and Penelope realize that they deserve each other and decide that it is better to remain together in a loveless marriage than be apart and suffer the social scorn of divorce. I was actually quite pleased to see Penelope get her comeuppance. She is one of the meanest, shallowest, and heartless characters I have encountered, and while I loved her for it because of the drama she added to the stories, I was not sad to see her ending turn out not so perfect.

Carolina also gets her due, although I felt a little guilty for wishing the girl such ill will. Carolina gets her wish and Leland Bouchard proposes to her. Everything that she has ever hoped for seems to be coming true. However, on the day of her wedding to Leland, Tristan returns to demand his share of Carolina's fortune. Leland and Tristan end up in fisticuffs and Carolina is forced into telling Leland the whole truth of her past. While Leland is willing to forgive Carolina for her less than aristocratic upbringing, he cannot forgive her for lying to him, and Carolina is left brokenhearted as Leland leaves for Europe. I was glad that Carolina was finally made to suffer for her past actions concerning Elizabeth, but I did end up feeling sorry for her in the end when she lost Leland. She really did love him, and I almost wish that he could have forgiven her completely...almost. In the end, she is still rich, so society won't be too harsh with her.

Elizabeth's ending is by far the happiest in the series. After Elizabeth discovers that her husband, Mr. Cairns, was in fact responsible for not only Will's death, but her father's death as well, he drugs her to keep her immobile and quiet. Teddy, who is becoming increasingly worried about Elizabeth, stops by to see her. Elizabeth, through her grogginess, attempts to communicate to Teddy that she needs help, but he appears to not get the message. One night, Elizabeth wakes up and attempts to make her escape. She is discovered by her husband and ends up pushing him down the stairs to his death. Teddy arrives the next day, having realized that something is wrong and is determined to rescue Elizabeth. Teddy, despite Elizabeth's history, is determined to have her for his wife and asks Elizabeth again to marry him. Elizabeth realizes that she does in fact love Teddy, and she accepts. The epilogue implies that Elizabeth and Teddy live happily ever after.

I was thrilled with the ending to Elizabeth's story. Teddy became one of my favorite characters in Envy after the attention he paid to Elizabeth while they were in Florida. I love that he is willing to accept Elizabeth's child and that he wants to protect her. He may have been a little late in charging in on his white horse, but I love that he comes to her rescue.

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