Cinders & Sapphires by Leila Rasheed

Cinders & Sapphires by Leila Rasheed

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.

Book Overview:

Author: Leila Rasheed | Series: At Somerton | Format: Hardcover | Length: 400 pages | Publish Date: January 22, 2013 | Genre: YA Historial Fiction/Romance | Rating: ★ ★ ★ | Recommend: Maybe

Those who ride on high horses have a long way to fall.

This book definitely had a lot of scandal in it. I don’t really read “romance” novels or “contemporary” novels like this book was, so it was interesting to read. In essence, this book was about the two different worlds in the Somerton Court: the elite and the servants. Lady Ada, one of the main characters, is the daughter of Lord Westlake who leans on the more educated side of life. She would rather attend Oxford and learn more about politics than be one of those proper ladies that cares more about the clothes she wears and the potential husband she can have. One of the things I do appreciate about her is that she tries her best to educate herself about what’s going on in the world, even if she isn’t always correct in her thoughts. The other main character, Rose Cliffe, has become Lady Ada’s lady maid, which is technically a promotion from her previous station. The cool thing about Ada and Rose, is that they actually grew up together and were friends when they were younger. Of course, that was before they had to really grow into their proper stations. Will they end up being friends again? Or will they play the game of class, and only be professional towards one another?

Does it even really matter to me? Not really, honestly.

I think the one part that I did appreciate – although it really irritated me – was the discussion on British Occupation in India. Since Lord Westlake had been working and living with his family in India for the past ten years – only now coming back to England because of some scandal surrounding his resignation – and on their trip back to their home country, Ada meets an Indian boy by the name of Ravi. She falls for him after a brief conversation about Oxford, and they end up kissing. At a party, the topic of India comes up, and Ravi – being the only Indian person in attendance of this party – obviously has a differing opinion on the occupation from the rest of the guests. One of the main quotes from Ravi that I loved was this:

I, too have spent several years in India – my entire life, as it happens – and more than this, I am Indian. You must allow me a different perspective on its government by the English than you might have. 

Of course he would have a different opinion! Why wouldn’t he? How would the British even understand what the native Indians are actually going through when they aren’t on the receiving end. Like so many people have said, history is told through the eyes of the victors, and therefore is very subjective to make it sound like this occupation was a good thing. It was the only way these Indian “savages” could have a sustainable government. Of course, right? And yet everyone dismisses his thoughts because he’s “young”. Of course.

This book was alright for me. It really just shows me that the people during this time were so… difficult to deal with. So much drama and deception for almost no reason. Did it add to the story? Not really. Did it make it enjoyable? Not so much. But other than that, it was an okay read. If you like contemporary, historical fiction romances, then I think you would like it.

Author Spotlight
Courtesy of Goodreads

Born: Libya
Twitter: LeilaR

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.

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