Posted by: Vanessa Barneveld | March 25, 2010

DeLUXE Delight

Manhattan, 1899. The Gilded Age. In Anna Godbersen’s The Luxe series, high society’s young and beautiful rule from the salons of their Midtown mansions. They have class, good breeding, closets full of French couture, and very little to do except appear enviable. But scratch each celebutante’s glitzy exterior and underneath lies pain that puts them on the level with the rest of humanity.

Elizabeth Holland is the noble, perfect blonde born to an old-money family whose fortunes are fast dwindling. She must marry “up” to save them from skid row, but that would mean betraying her true first love. Her supposed best friend, nouveau riche Penelope Hayes, sees herself as New York’s crown princess. This morally bankrupt socialite’s sole aim is to be the centre of attention no matter what the occasion–even at a funeral. Diana, Elizabeth’s devil-may-care younger sister, doesn’t give a hoot about keeping up appearances. She craves adventure, not assets. Lina Broud, Elizabeth’s audacious maid clumsily learns the art of social climbing. Gorgeous Henry Schoonmaker struggles with the burden of expectation from all quarters. He has the pick of the belles, but is he clever enough to make the right choice?

The tone of each chapter is set with an intriguing snippet from either a gossip column, an etiquette guide, or a letter from a character. Then the character who has the most at stake takes a central role in the chapter. Godbersen manages to evoke sympathy for all of her lead characters—some more than others, however! She leaves you guessing till the last book as to who gets their just deserts.

I can think of many adjectives to describe Anna Godbersen’s four-part series, but the one that fits best is delicious! I’m absolutely in love with her writing. So much so that I catch myself uttering phrases like “I dare say…” and “Fetch me a mimosa, please, darling.” Dialogue played out like linguistic tango–passionate but restrained. Sumptuous gowns and architecture were painted in vivid strokes. I could practically feel the glow emanating from the chandeliers in the Hayes’s “modern” mansion. This series is the perfect escape from the drudgery of 21st-century life. After reading it, you’ll feel that little bit richer too.

When I took the Which Luxe Girl Are You? quiz, I was surprised–maybe even dismayed!–to find myself pegged as Penelope. But I’m about to make the ultimate sacrifice, much like dutiful Elizabeth would, and give away the complete series to one very lucky We Love YA reader. That’s right. To win, all you have to do is tell me which Luxe character you’d like to know better.



  1. Hi Vanessa! I haven’t read these books but I’ve been madly in love with the covers ever since I saw an ad for the first book in RT. Aren’t they the most luscious, gorgeous, extravagant, sensational covers? I dare say you’ve tippled your mimosa by now, dahlink! I hope it was topping. Looks like I need to search a bit more deeply than just the visual. These stories sound great! Wonderful post, Vanessa!

  2. I have never read this series, been on a vampire kick lately. But those covers are gorgeous.
    I took the test and apparently I’m Diana Holland. Is she good?

  3. Oooh, I half wish I hadn’t read this post, because you have put me in such an 1800’s reading mood! I want to curl up in these books right now. I’ve been interested in them for a while but have yet to pick them up – definitely going to now!

    I took the quiz and my result was Elizabeth Holland, so I’d probably like to get to know her better. I also took the ‘Who is your true love’ quiz and got Will Keller!

    Great post, you’ve got me excited for this series now. And I would loooove to win them!

  4. Hi, Anna! I saw those covers across a crowded bookstore and fell in love with them too. I would be soooo happy with that artwork if I were Anna G. This series is set a few decades after your historicals, Anna. I think you’d love it.

  5. Ashka, Diana Holland is a very spirited lass and gets up to a bit of mischief. She was my fave character, actually. Now that you’ve entered the draw, you may just get the chance to find out for yourself whether she’s good or not! Thanks for stopping by.

    Which vamp books are you reading?

  6. Hi, Brodie! I’m glad this review got you excited about reading the series. That is so funny that you discovered you’re Elizabeth and that your love interest is Will. When you read the books, you’ll see why… 🙂

    I got so carried away with the era when I read the books. If I could go back in time, I’d love to visit the Hollands in Gramercy Park.

  7. Vanessa, do I detect a delicious taste of Gossip Girl, a century or so back?
    These books sound amazing, my teenage daughter would lap them up, but I think I would enjoy them too. The covers are divine, as are the titles of both the series and the individual books.
    I love the sound of Diana but the morally bankrupt Penelope could be interesting, too.
    One way or the other, I want these books!
    Thank you for bringing them to my attention.

  8. Hi, Kandy! You’re right on the money about this being Gossip Girl by gaslight. (Sorry to kind of rip off your tagline for Claiming the Courtesan, Anna Campbell!) I think you and your daughter would adore this series.

    Diana, in my opinion, has the most fun out of all the characters. Penelope sinks oh-so-low with her outrageous schemes but, yes, she’s very intriguing.

  9. I just had to race over and take the quiz, Vanessa – I dare say you’ll want to extend your felicitations next time you see me because I came out as Elizabeth Holland. 😉

    Seriously, these books sound fabulous and those covers are absolutely exquisite!


  10. Sharon, I’m not surprised, as you’re most certainly as good, kind and regal as Elizabeth Holland!

    I think in this case, you can definitely judge these books by their covers. They’re beautiful inside and out.

  11. I just luuvv the cover of these books! They sound just dreamy. It’s hard to pick a character without reading about them, but I have to say that I am drawn to Elizabeth in the good ol’ conflict of love vs money. Always a romantic at heart!!

  12. Ah, Vanessa, one does one’s best…. or is that smacking just a bit too much of the Royal “We”?! LOL

    Actually the quiz is a fun, clever idea which makes the books even more of a must-read! Though, I fear, after reading the prologue, that all is not as it seems with the good and kind Elizabeth!


  13. Hi, Cindy! Great to see you here.

    People do seem drawn to Elizabeth! Penelope would be furious to see that. 🙂 Elizabeth has to make some gut-wrenching choices. You really do feel for the girl.

  14. I say, Sharon, Elizabeth does have her secrets – none of which will be revealed here, though.

  15. Could you be compromised with chocolate, Vanessa???

    Oh, dear, that’s not very “Elizabethan” behaviour, is it! ?


  16. I’m shocked, Sharon! But you could never be as evil as Penelope. Me, on the other hand… I still can’t believe my result in that quiz. Maybe I should take it again, ’cause I’m feeling rather angelic right now.

    P.S. I can be easily charmed by chocolate!

  17. Yes, after reading that prologue, I can’t see you qualifying as a Penelope, Vanessa. There must have been a slip of the quill when you took the quiz!

    PS Your susceptibility to chocolate charming, is duly noted!

  18. You are too, too kind, my dear! See? You really are Elizabethan.

  19. I loved this post – I’m feeling the urge to go on a YA kick and these books sound perfect! And the covers are gorgeous – now that Fabio is mostly retired from the romance-cover-world, I can only hope that if I sell a book someday, it will be as gorgeous as these 😉

    Also, congrats on your Golden Heart final – hope you’re having a lovely birthday week!

  20. Sara, I think these books will hit the YA spot for you! Do you think Fabio will come out of retirement to pose for Mom-lit books?

    Thank you for the good wishes! I’m pretty stunned!

  21. Vanessa, these books sound really interesting and a little different. Thanks for the introduction. And like others, I love the covers… (who me, shallow?).

    CONGRATULATIONS on your Golden Heart final berth. I have my fingers crossed for you. It’s so pleasing to see your marvellous talent being recognised. And I love the way it was timed for your birthday. Enjoy your celebrations.

  22. Thank you for the very kind words, Annie!!!! It’s starting to sink in now, but I have checked the RWA website several times today to make sure I didn’t dream this whole thing up.

    You’re not shallow for lovin’ those covers. How could anyone not think they’re gorgeous? Personally, I’d love the red dress. Too much for the GH ceremony, do you think?

  23. Vanessa, congrats on the Golden Heart Final! Wooohooo!
    And of course the Luxe books are great, gossip girls for the victorian set? sort of.

  24. Vanessa, congrats on finalling in the GH!

    I haven’t read this series but I’m so totally hooked on YA books the last few months I know I’ll devour these too!

    Thanks for the recommendation.

  25. Thanks, Nat! I’m beyond excited!

    The Luxe is definitely Gossip Girl for the Victorian set—full of love triangles, family tragedies and faaabulous clothes.

  26. Thanks so much, Nicola! I’m excited to see *you* here—wow!

    I don’t blame you for getting hooked on YA! There’s a lot going on in this genre. I’m going to give my wallet a workout and buy the RITA-nominated YAs.

  27. Congratulations on finalling in the Golden Heart, Vanessa! AGAIN! Woohoo! Everything is crossed for you!


  28. Thank you, Sharon! Your support means so much to me.

    Hey, I re-sat the Which Girl Are You test—turns out I’m Elizabeth today!

  29. […] me start the holidays off by announcing the winner of our DeLUXE Delight giveaway. Please whoop and cheer in a manner befitting young ladies for our winner,  BRODIE! […]

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