I don’t know if it’s because I had lowered my expectations after reading The Luxe or I just need something entirely without intellectual value, but I enjoyed this more than its predecessor. Rumors focused more on Elizabeth’s younger sister Diana and her star-crossed love as well as the con artist maid. There is no question that there are characters I can’t stand, because I never was a fan of Elizabeth or her back-stabbing BFF Penelope to begin with and Penelope at least does not improve here. I do wish that the scheming maid were more likable, but frankly I pretty much hate her too. Right, so why is it that after admitting that I find most of the characters extremely unlikable I so desperately want to read the next one? It’s like eating an entire box of chocolates. You can’t seem to stop yourself and you are deriving some pleasure out of it, but when you’ve finished you are simultaneously nauseated and wondering where you can get more chocolates.
I will say this for Godbersen, she will do whatever it takes for an epic cliffhanger, especially if it means a wild plot twist right at the end of the book. That’s one way to make sure you have a paying audience for your next volume.
Great for: Fans of historical fiction who’d rather their books be on the melodramatic side.
Sex, Nudity, Dating – We know certain characters have been intimate with each other. Like Luxe, much of the action takes place off screen, and without outright stating that people have sex, with a preference for terms like lovers. Rumors does raise the bar a bit though, because in addition to the kissing, handholding and bosom exposure, there is actual on screen sex (specifically, a girl loses her virginity). We’re there from the kissing straight through penetration and more. A character lives with a man out of wedlock. A painter pontificates about nudes.
Profanity – “damned,”
Death, Violence and Gore – A character is deliberately forced to fall through the ice. There is a certain amount of fabricating of deaths. A man’s wife died in a fire. The parent of a character is very ill, possibly on the brink of death. A girl wishes boys would duel over her. There is a very tragic shooting death of a reasonably major character.
Drugs, Alcohol and Smoking – All manner of alcohol is consumed, from beer, ale and wine to whiskey, brandy, cognac and hot buttered rum. Characters are occasionally drunk. I don’t recall cigarette smoking, I wrote none down, but as it occurred in Luxe, I hate to rule it out entirely.
Frightening or Intense Things – None.