Mundie Moms

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Book Review:CINDERS & SAPPHIRES At Somerton Series by Leila Rasheed

Published by: Disney Hyperion
Released on: January 22, 2013
Series: At Somerton #1
Source: arc from publisher to review
4 Stars: I Really Enjoyed It!
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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

Fans of Downton Abbey are sure to love this new series! Somerton provides fans with a stunning back drop of pre war England, the entanglement of society standards, politics, and a women's place in it all, a brutal social class within the confines of Somerton and that oh so enchanting forbidden romance that ensues with Lady Ada and Ravi. To top it all off there is deceit, scandal, and aw yes, that danger that comes when a women in high standing wants nothing more than to be well educated, follow her heart and think for herself. Not to mention this story takes place during the brink of an exciting, troublesome and trying time in both India and England, as well as within Lady Ada's own family. 

CINDERS & SAPPHIRES offers everything I love about this intriguing time period. This time in history was challenging and exciting and change always seemed to be right on the horizon. It was one of the themes I loved about this book, and the characters who wanted to embrace it. Lady Ada is a women who by society standards should be preparing to make herself available, yet all she wants to do is follow her desire to be well educated. I loved her for this. I admire her for wanting to break the mold and do something that allowed her to be independent. Lady Ada's father and her love interest Ravi and two others whom I admired for their stances and different views on the affairs of their countries, and society. 

I thought Leila did a brilliant job at showing me through Ravi how unsettled things in India were at this time, and the revolution that was taking place. There's also this incredibly richly detailed English society as well as a hierarchy within Somerton that mirrors that of this time period. Though I respected Lady Ada's father for being a man who stayed true to his standings in society, he also did what he felt was honorable and right. Though I understood that during this time period he does nothing wrong by putting Lady Ada in the position she finds herself in at the end of the book, I also loved that the entire time things are going on around her, she's plotting. The other character I admire in this story is Rose, Lady Ada's maid. It broke my heart over all that Rose has to deal with. To me she is just as strong as Lady Ada is, only Rose's strength lies within, and stays hidden from most everyone, but Lady Ada. I also liked how sympathetic Lady Ada is towards Rose and her talent, and her wanting to help her.

I am blown away that Leila not only have such a large cast of characters, but the fact she was able to keep up with all of them. I loved that this was written in third person, and how the story was able to jump around from the various family members, servants, and family friends, and not once feel confusing. More than that, I thoroughly enjoyed getting a first hand look into the hierarchy that makes up the servants within Somerton. Wow, some characters are just fabulous, and others, much like those they serve want nothing more than to pave a way for their own selfish greed and will do whatever they can to achieve their goal. Despite the good, the bad and the overly dramatic, each of the characters in this book have a role, and they played it well. 

Now that I've talked about the things that stood out to me, let's talk about one of the things that kept me hooked. The forbidden romance! I am a romantic at heart (sometimes), and I want nothing more than true love to work out, especially in a story like that. I couldn't agree more with Lady Ada when she claims she won't marry someone she doesn't love, though the person she loves is of a total different class than she is, and will not be allowed. This is also a period in time when secret notes expressing one's forbidden feelings for another can easily find themselves into the wrong hands were drastic things can happen. Boy does this add fuel to an already escalating fire that I'm sure will boil over into the next installment in this exciting series. I highly recommend picking this book up!

Stop by and check out the Clothing Glossary and the Somerton Family Tree in my Cinders and Sapphires blog tour here.

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