This novel is basically Gossip Girl in 1899. It had the sex, scandal, and double crossing that Gossip Girl is known for (at least the TV version because I haven't read the books to honestly compare).
The main character is Elizabeth - a pure and proper girl who has a not so pure secret (she's having intimate relations with a servant). Will, the family's stable boy, wants to run away with her, but when she learns of her family's money troubles, she knows she has to do something. Enter Henry - the town's wealthy playboy whose father threatens to disinherit him if he doesn't change his ways. In order to please his father, Henry has to marry Elizabeth, not Penelope - his current lover and Elizabeth's best friend. Even though Elizabeth is in love with Will, this marriage proves a solution to her family's troubles. Penelope, though, plots revenge because she loves Henry. Two other characters then come into play: Diana - Elizabeth's sister who shares a genuine love with Henry, and Lina - Elizabeth's scorned servant who knows too much and is all too eager to use it to get what she wants. Will true lovers be together? Or will society get in the way?
Most of the novel is a flashback leading to the death of Elizabeth that's presented at the beginning of the novel as a hanging mystery. The mystery, though, was a little too predictable. I, for one, predicted it shortly after meeting the live Elizabeth. There's already a sequel (Rumors) and the ending is enough to draw in readers. The time period works well for the scandalous nature of relationships and the restraints imposed on the characters. I don't think it's prove as powerful today.
Even though the novel didn't send me over the moon, I think Gossip Girl readers will find this new series worth their time.