Cinders & Sapphires (At Somerton #1) by Leila Rasheed

Title: Cinders & Sapphires
Series: At Somerton #1
Author: Leila Rasheed
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release Date: January 22, 2013
Pages: 400, Hardcover

Summary from Goodreads:
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

It is no secret that I enjoy books based in the past - where the women wear big fancy gowns and are expected to be proper ladies, where society and family determine how you are to act and whom you are to marry, where secrets and scandal run rampant - therefore it's no surprise that I enjoyed Cinders & Sapphires.

In Cinders & Sapphires mostly everyone has a secret they want kept hidden and deception is almost second nature. Lady Ada Averley has fallen in love with a boy her father would never approve of, so they exchange letters and meet in secret to share their affections. But to keep up appearances, Ravi's letters to Ada are addressed to Rose, Ada's newly promoted ladies maid, which only causes speculation among the maids of a secret lover. Rose only agrees to cover up the romance so that she can compose music and entertain dreams her mother would never allow. Meanwhile, Lady Averley is pressured by her father to find a suitable marriage, her only chance for a respectable future after a recent scandal lowered the family name. Although distracted by her feelings for Ravi, Ada doesn't dismiss suitors because a proper marriage may be her only chance to attend Oxford, something she wants more than anything else. But one particular suitor has already captured the attention of Ada's spoiled and entitled step-sister Charlotte. When Charlotte thinks Ada is getting in her way, she vows to bring her down. Charlotte and her mother have their ladies maid, Stella, a manipulative little snot, dig up all the secrets she can find on Ada. And Rose, whom Stella was never fond of, becomes fair game too. But when Stella starts digging, secrets that have be buried for years start to surface and no one is safe from the consequences of the truth.

What I just described is just one element of a much bigger story. There are plenty of secondary plots that I think were also well developed and interesting. The story is told through several different POVs, each character having a distinct presence in the book and memorable in his or her own way. I loved how their stories flowed separately yet together and I never felt a drag in pace or disinterest in the progression of events of one story or the other. I thought all the characters were strong and purposeful.

While this much scandal in one family is unlikely, it didn't take away from my experience. In fact, I enjoyed all the deception and lies! However, I did think the the relationship between Ada and Ravi could have been more convincing, it definitely wasn't one of my favorites. Lastly, for those who like some thoughtful discussions in your read - Rasheed does tackle some controversial issues of the time amidst all the other stuff - women's education, societal roles, British rule in India, etc.

While not perfect, Cinders & Sapphires has a lot to bring the the table and I had a fun time with this read.



  1. I think that this one sounds like a lot of fun! Yay!

  2. I like it when there is one main story with some side plots. Multiple POV's can really complete a story :D I'm going to check out this book, great review!


  3. I'm glad this one was good :) I just found a copy of it so I'm excited to read it! I don't read a lot of historical fiction but I'm really starting to get into the genre... Great review! :)


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