Book Review: Cinders and Sapphires by Leila Rasheed


Cinders and Sapphires by Leila Rasheed
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.

Reading level: Ages 12 and up
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Hyperion Book CH (January 22, 2013)

About the Author:

Leila Rasheed has gained an MA in both Children’s Literature and Creative Writing. She started work at Reading Is Fundamental, a children’s literacy charity, before moving to Belgium. Leila now works as the children’s bookseller for Waterstone’s in Brussels. 

My Thoughts:
This is almost an exact duplicate of Downton Abbey in many ways.  Some of the similarities were remarkable, including love between one of the young ladies and a man of lower station, a homosexual couple sneaking around, the upper and lower classes theme, and the estate’s finances being saved through a wealthy wife.  Too many characters are introduced right away and I felt overwhelmed and frustrated when I couldn’t keep them all straight. 

I loved the atmosphere of the story.  It has a beautiful air and feel to it that I adored.  I enjoyed the scandal and drama, even though some of it felt forced. I’m interested to see how the rest of the story plays out, but I’m not sure that I’m interested enough to pursue the series any further.

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  • Reply
    Adriana C
    March 16, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    This book sounds really good. I love drama.

  • Reply
    March 16, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    This sounds like an interesting book. I have not see Downton Abbey- but I have been wanting to see it! The atmosphere of both sounds so fun.

  • Reply
    Alise (Readers In Wonderland)
    March 16, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    I'm glad you reviewed this, I have been wanting to see other opinions. The characters were one of my complaints as well-too soon and too fast.

    • Reply
      March 16, 2013 at 11:22 pm

      I completely agree. I couldn't keep them all straight in my head. I kept having to ask myself, "now who is this again?" That and the way it was an almost exact duplicate of the TV show were the two complaints I had.

  • Reply
    Adriana (BooksOnHerMind)
    March 18, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    I read the same thing about too many characters from the girl above (Readers in Wonderland). How did you feel about the roles and personality of the two main characters?

    • Reply
      March 18, 2013 at 7:51 pm

      I liked both main characters. There was mystery and scandal behind both of them. I think the book would have been more successful if all the minor characters were introduced slowly, because the two main characters were quite interesting and I would be interested in learning more of their stories.

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