Author: Leila Rasheed
Publish Date: January 22, 2013 by Disney-Hyperion
Rose Cliffe has never met a young lady like her new mistress. Clever, rich, and beautiful, Ada Averley treats Rose as an equal. And Rose could use a friend. Especially now that she, at barely sixteen, has risen to the position of ladies’ maid. Rose knows she should be grateful to have a place at a house like Somerton. Still, she can’t help but wonder what her life might have been had she been born a lady, like Ada. For the first time in a decade, the Averleys have returned to Somerton, their majestic ancestral estate. But terrible scandal has followed Ada’s beloved father all the way from India. Now Ada finds herself torn between her own happiness and her family’s honor. Only she has the power to restore the Averley name—but it would mean giving up her one true love . . . someone she could never persuade her father to accept. Sumptuous and enticing, the first novel in the At Somerton series introduces two worlds, utterly different yet entangled, where ruthless ambition, forbidden attraction, and unspoken dreams are hidden behind dutiful smiles and glittering jewels. All those secrets are waiting . . . at Somerton.There’s something about an English estate and all the drama of not just the family that resides there, but their staff of servants that pulls me in each and every time.
Cinders and Sapphires addresses something different than most novels set in pre-WWI England – the start of the Indian independence movement. The scandal (which we know occurred but don’t know the details of until the very end of the book) that caused the family to return to Somerton is just one of the factors that will keep you reading. And references to India's fight for independence, sprinkled within the plot, provided a layer of historical tension that added even more interest to the setting.
For me it was, of course, the romance factor that swayed my interest in the story. Lady Ava and Ravi stole my heart from page one when they met on the ship back to England. Their romance has it all – it's forbidden by class and threatened by revolution. As if that wasn’t enough, there’s an entire cast of characters – a new step-mother for Ava, step-siblings and a surprise revelation which comes from a very old, covered up scandal. I’m going to keep reading the series because it has everything I loved about “Downton Abbey” in book form – estate politics, the threat of outside forces destroying the current way of life, forbidden romance and complex characters all presented within the walls of an old estate which brims with secrets.
Pour yourself a cup of tea and grab a scone and enjoy a tale of family secrets and love in the most unexpected of circumstances.