Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Series Review: At Somerton series by Leila Rasheed

Cinders & Sapphires (At Somerton, #1)Cinders & Sapphires by Leila Rasheed
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I requested to review Diamonds and Deceit not fully realizing that it was the sequel to this novel.  I don't know how I missed this book when it came out earlier this year, but I'm happy that it came to my attention.  I waited patently while I wound my way down the holds list on the book and then promptly read both books as quickly as I could manage around work and other social obligations.

Lela Rasheed, tells a wonderful story about the lives of the Averley family and those closely associated with them.  There was drama galore and while a lot of it was over the top, I think it just added the my enjoyment. The main story lines revolve around Rose Cliffe, a maid at the Averley's home, Somerton, and the oldest Averley daughter Ada. There is also a cast of characters who do not fade into the background and only add to the over-the-top-ness of the novel.

I recently reviewed a novel that I compared to a soap opera, and this novel is even more soap opera-ish than the last one.  At every turn there is scandal, secrets, and sneaking around. Ada's father faced scandal in India and has to return home to England.  He comes home to Somerton with a fiance and her family.  To say the two families do not merge together nicely is an understatement.  Ada is in love with a young man with whom her family would disapprove of and is faced with a marriage proposal that would make her greatly unhappy but would save her family.  Rose is elevated to a role within the household staff she is not prepared for in regards to job requirements and the petty nature of the other staff members.

I finished this novel and quickly jumped to the next novel in the series.

The following review contains spoilers of Book #1.

Diamonds and Deceit (At Somerton, #2)Diamonds and Deceit by Leila Rasheed
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received an ebook ARC from NetGalley in return for an honest review.

I will admit that I read this book in one sitting.  I didn't stay up to read the book, but I was awake so I read the book all night. The soap-opera drama continued into this book with Ada and Rose discovering love and life as sisters. True to it's title this book is filled with deceit. It seems everyone is hiding something from someone else and nothing goes according to plan.

Ada's engaged to Lord Fintan (not the marriage proposal from the first book) but she is still in love with Ravi.  Lord Fintan, has a secret and it involves Ada's step-sister Charlotte. Charlotte's two brothers are both involved in relationships that were kept secret; one brother is gay and the other involved in an interracial relationship.  Ada is struggling to find herself, she can't muster the same enthusiasm that Charlotte has for the season, but she doesn't want to disappoint her father.  Ada wants to go to school, she would love to learn as much as she can about everything and Lord Fintan seems to be not only the answer to the family's monetary issues but also Ada's way towards an education.  This all doesn't even scratch the surface of everything going on with these characters.

Rose is also not finding joy in her first season.  Everything is so different and the staff of the house clearly treats her different; as if they were offended by her presence.  While still trying to find the balance between her old life and her new one, Rose meets Alexander, a young man with wealth, title and a dark reputation.  I really enjoyed Rose's story, especially her interactions with Alexander. In picturing a man for Rose, I don't think I would have picked someone with Alexander's background, but when we get a deeper look at the character, he's the perfect person in society to accept someone with Rose's background.  I really believe he's the one person that understands her more than anyone else in the novel.

I suggest both of these books if you are interested in the television show Downton Abbey.

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