Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Godbersen, Anna. 2007. The Luxe.
The Luxe is an indulgent historical romance that I can easily imagine romance-crazy teens and adults devouring. Imagine a period (turn-of-the-century) soap opera. 1899, I believe, is the year it is set. The clothes, the hair, the rules may be different. But it is all about drama, drama, and more drama. A twisted web of love and lust of needs and wants. The book begins with a funeral. A seemingly solemn affair at first glance until you start looking at some of the guests' faces--was that a smirk? a hint of relief? a look of guilt? of glee? Once these are duly noted, the reader knows to be wary of appearances. As I said, the prologue is funeral. But the heart and soul of this novel is what you might consider a flashback. It is the story of what led up to that mournful beginning. Like all soap operas, there are some major families--the powerful, the wealthy, the often cantankerous. The Holland family has a secret: their wealth practically died along with the head of the family. Mrs. Holland is depending on her oldest daughter, Elizabeth, marrying a rich, wealthy aristocrat. Elizabeth, a young teen living a lie and putting on a show. On the surface, she's a goody-two-shoes, prim, proper, all about the rules. But beneath the surface lies a passionate girl who has been sneaking out to spend her nights with Will, the coachman employed by her family. Then there is Diana--the younger sister--far from prim and proper she is seeking to live all of life right then and there. She is seeking passion and love and romance. She's on a quest for a prince that can kiss her and make her toes tingle. Also living in the Holland household are the servants--the employees--Claire and her sister Lina and Will. Lina loves Will. Loves him, but is dashed to discover late one night the passionate rendezvous of Will and Elizabeth. The Schoonmakers. Also of the elite of New York City. Mr. Schoonmaker wants to run for mayor and he can't very well have his son, Henry, off dallying with a different girl each week and landing in the society and gossip pages. No, he'll need to stop dallying with all those girls, stop wandering the city streets drunk, and settle down with a proper girl, a girl who will keep him in line, a girl like that fine, beautiful Elizabeth Holland. But Henry? Henry is so not the settling down type. Not when he can go from flower to flower to flower to flower to flower. Not when he can have his thrills so easily. There is another major player here, Penelope Hayes. The daughter of a family that has just come into their wealth. She loves with a passion and hates with a vengeance.
As I said this is one dramatic romance novel that will have soap-opera and romance fans hooked from the very beginning. Love. Unrequited Love. Forbidden Romances. Secrets. Lies. Betrayals. Delicious stuff if that's your thing...and good news...there is a sequel coming.
For the record, while the book mentions romantic liaisons and hints at scandalous dalliances, there is nothing graphic about those love scenes. While it won't meet everyone's code of standards in the morals and virtues department, there is nothing obscene about it. So don't expect a full-blown adult romance novel.