Thursday, February 14, 2013

Cinders & Sapphires

Author: Leila Rasheed
Goodreads Rating: 3.09
Pages: 388
Format: ARC from the Publisher

One house, two worlds...
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.

I enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I was going to. This book originally hadn't been on my radar until Julie at Bloggers [Heart] Books mentioned it while we were at NYCC12. And I am so glad that she did.

This book was delightfully unexpected. I never watched Downtown Abby, and so this was to be an entirely new experience for me. I am, however, a huge fan of historical fiction and so this one seemed to call out to me. I was intrigued by the concept of this family returning to their estate in England after leaving India in disgrace. At first it was a little hard to follow all the different characters as we were introduced to them from the third person, so there was a little bit of jumping around, but each character had their own personality and seemed to know who they each were. There were a few too many characters and at times it was hard to keep their names straight, but in the end, the ones that mattered were great.

On the topic of characters and how I liked that they had their own personalities, I appreciated that they made me feel strongly towards some characters. For example, I totally did not like Fiona, Charlotte and Stella who were the wicked step mother and sister in this story, and wicked they were. They seemed to have nothing better to do than come up with ways that would impede Ada and Georgiana. There were times that I just wanted to smack all three of them and say “Shut up! No one cares about you!” But, of course that wasn’t strictly true because the boys of the family like Sebastian and Michael.

I did really like all the different side plots that seemed to be occurring because while all the different interactions between characters are very important, people forget that they aren’t always with the other main characters and that they have other things going on in their lives. For example, the “friendship” that Ada and Ravi shared ever since they met on the boat to England.  I loved the letters between the two of them and how Rose would help out. Even better was how they would try to meet and have these deeply intellectual political talks. I also adored the side story of Sebastian and his valet, Oliver who he seemed to have feelings for. I adored that Rasheed broached these sensitive topics like bi-racial relationships and even going as far as a gay relationship in the 1920s. When I say that I was glad Rasheed didn’t avoid touchy subjects and I said including Biracial couples, I didn’t mean racy for our time period, I more meant that for that time period the idea of Ada and Ravi being together was more than salacious because that just didn’t happen back then. There really is no good way to explain it.

I wish that there were an easier way to talk about all of these different relationships without giving away what really made them special, because there were truly great things about each and every one of them. Sadly, there hasn’t been too much word on when the next book is going to be hitting shelves, but I just can’t wait to get my hands on it to find out what else is going to happen to the family. Especially given their perilous financial situation.
The Courts Decision:


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