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Summary: Two teenaged sisters find romance in turn-of-the-century New York high society.
Luxe has been called the Gossip Girl of the 1890s and that's the most apt description ever. Two sisters, the beautiful and calm Elizabeth and the wild and rumpled younger Diana, have re-entered New York high society after the death of the father almost a year ago.
Isabelle, Elizabeth's frenemy, is hosting a grand ball to show off her new house. Isabelle is so busy playing hostess that she doesn't have time to tell Elizabeth about her exciting new lover, Henry Schoonmaker. Henry seems drawn to Isabelle's contrasts - the society darling, who likes to be naughty. Smoking in public? Gasp!
That night, after the ball, Elizabeth and Diana's mother summons them to the parlor and tells them that there is absolutely no money left from their father's bad investments and that Elizabeth must marry for money, and quickly, or they will be ostracized forever. Diana thinks their poverty is wonderful and dramatic, but has no idea of the realities. Elizabeth is crushed, because she has just resumed her romance with the handsome coachman who works for them. If Elizabeth must marry for money, what will become of her relationship with Will?
On the other side of town, Henry Schoonmaker is commanded by his father to marry a girl of impeccable breeding and class, and soon, just in time for his father's run for office. The very next day, Henry proposes to Elizabeth, and Elizabeth accepts but with a sick feeling in her stomach. As Henry leaves the house, knowing that his life will be a series of dull and exceedingly proper events, he meets a charming flirt with laughing eyes and kisses her. It's only the next day that Henry realizes he has kissed his fiancé's sister. Isabelle's shock and jealousy create a minor scandal as well.
The story unfolds much as you would expect, with a small mystery left unexplained to pave the way for a sequel or two. All along, I kept hoping that somebody would tell the truth and that Diana and Henry could and would get married. It would seem to solve so many problems. This is exactly the kind of book I would have loved in high school. There is implied sex, but it's not explicit and tricky social situations as well. Enjoyable and light historical reading. I'm unsure about whether or not I'll read the next book in the series but don't regret reading this one at all.