Cinders & Sapphires by Leila Rasheed
Synopsis: 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.
Why I Picked It Up: I recently received the ARC for Diamonds & Deceit from Awkwordly Emma so I ordered it from my library. Long story short, it took two weeks to get there and I finished it today (I started reading it on Sunday).
How I Started Off: Intrigued. This book starts off with a bang, that’s for sure.
What I Liked:
The characters. Rose. Ada. Georgiana. Mrs. Cliffe. I especially loved how the different character’s stories were entwined and one would be completely different without the other.
I really enjoyed Ada’s thirst for knowledge. Her constant strive for independence in a world where women were barely offered an opportunity to go to school, to learn, to vote, to be independent really made me step away from the book and consider how fortunate we are today. It also made me think about how brave she had to be to want what she wanted when it seemed impossible, and to not give up hope.
(This seemed appropriate)
That, in itself, was one of my favorite parts of the book. I know it was a very minor theme, but it just hit me hard.
Georgiana and Ada’s relationship made me smile. Ravi and Ada’s… eh. More on that later. Lord Westlake and Lady Westlake’s relationship was sweet, but it felt fake to me.
I did like that it kept switching perspectives. I felt that that way I was able to see into everyone’s mind which I found out I like more than being limited to one person. It seems like almost every book I have read is from one perspective – besides MDBC (I applaud you HVF!).
Lastly, I really liked the Downton Abbey feel. I have seen glimpses of the show when my parents watch it, but it just surprised me how much I liked it.
What I Didn’t Like:
I had trouble keeping the different characters straight. The family tree in the front did help but I still had some difficulty.
I had mixed feelings about Ada and Ravi’s relationship. I feel like too many authors are doing the whole “whirlwind romance” thing.
I honestly wouldn’t know if that’s how it works, but I have heard from many that gradual love is sometimes the best. So that made me unsure.
To me Sebastian and Oliver’s relationship was unnecessary. I did appreciate that it was done appropriately and I thought it was done very nicely, but I didn’t feel it was important to the story. I understand the whole Sebastian kissing Rose necessity and Oliver having to take the blame for Sebastian but if they had just been friends I would have been happier.
The “connections” (affairs and what not) were also handled very nicely, and in a way that I did not feel uncomfortable.
Final Grade: A-
All in all, I really did like this book. There were just a couple factors that I felt took away from it.
In the end, I will probably go buy this book so I can have it on my favorites shelf.