If you didn’t think the nineteenth century was full of drama then think again.  Life in New York in 1899 was very eventful.  At least it was for the very wealthy.  Elizabeth Holland has been a perfect daughter her entire nineteen years of life.  She has been groomed for years to be perfect – to talk when she was supposed to, to receive visitors on Sundays, and always appear happy no matter when she was feeling on the inside.  People in New York expect her to marry well and continue the traditions of high society.

Life for Elizabeth isn’t easy though, even though all she has to do is sit around and look beautiful.  It turns out, since the death of her father, her family is having financial problems and aren’t able to keep up the type of lifestyle they are used to living.  One thousand dollar gowns, priceless works of art, and trips abroad are a thing of the past unless something can be done to secure the family’s place in society before everyone learns of their trouble.  Mrs. Holland thinks Elizabeth can save the family by marrying Henry Schoonmaker – New York’s most eligible and most sought after bachelor.

The news of her impending engagement is a surprise to Elizabeth.  She has always held out the hope that she would marry for love and in fact, has been in love for quite some time.  Elizabeth has been having a secret relationship with Will Keller for many years.  The relationship must be kept a secret because Will is an employee of the Holland family.  He works in the stables and drives the carriages for them and carrying on a relationship with someone of lower status would be something that would ruin Elizabeth’s reputation and the Holland family name.  Word of her engagement puts a strain, understandably, on Elizabeth’s relationship with Will. 

Elizabeth’s secret relationship with Will isn’t the only thing that becomes more difficult after the wedding becomes public.  Henry doesn’t want to get married any more than Elizabeth does.  He resents the fact that he is being forced to wed and give up his freedom.  Penelope, her supposed best friend, is infuriated by the news of the wedding.  She expected to marry Henry herself and is planning to break up the wedding by any means necessary.  Elizabeth’s personal maid, Lina, finds out about Elizabeth and Will’s relationship and is hurt because she has grown to love Will herself.  Even more problems crop up when Elizabeth’s younger sister, Diana, begins to have feelings for Henry.  Finally, and most devastating to Elizabeth, Will tells her he is leaving New York and heading west to California.  How can a proper girl deal with all of these problems and be expected retain her poise?

THE LUXE is a fascinating look at life at the turn of the century.  It is historical fiction at its best.  For those of you that fall in love with the book like I have can look forward to the fact that the author is currently working on a sequel.