At Somerton: Secrets and Sapphires by Leila Rasheed

How did I get the book?  Uncorrected Proof received from the Hot Key Books in exchange for an honest review.

Genre: Historical Fiction

First Impression: I don’t watch Downton Abbey… never mind.

Synopsis: One house, two worlds, dark secrets…
The year is 1910. For the past decade, the Averley family has lived a life of luxury in India, but now they must return to Lord Averley’s ancestral estate, the sprawling, majestically beautiful Somerton Court. As the household staff hastily prepare for the family’s arrival, they receive shocking news: Lord Averley is bringing back a fiancée with three children of her own, and on top of that, there are rumours of a terrible scandal surrounding Lord Averley’s resignation as Lieutenant Governor of Bengal.
As the family settles in, tensions arise both upstairs and downstairs. Lady Ada must choose between her honour and her heart, Sebastian must fend off ruinous threats from a former servant (and lover…) and gentle housemaid Rose will find herself at the centre of a scandal so enormous it could destroy the Averley’s reputation forever.

200words (or less) review: What I knew about Secrets and Sapphires before it arrived? “DOWNTON ABBEY meets GOSSIP GIRL” I haven’t watched either show but I’ve been reading a lot of historical fiction lately and this fit right in.

The two things that stuck with me after finishing the book were; the writing and how busy the story is. Leila Rasheed has a descriptive style, without drowning the reader is too much detail. You are guided through the story at a good pace and get to know most of the characters really well.

Most of the focus is on Lady Ada and Rose, her newly appointed ladies maid. That said almost every character, be it one of Ada’s acquaintances or a servant has their own story. This is both fascinating and occasionally confusing. I do think if it hadn’t been for Leila Rasheed’s excellent writing I would have been very lost. As it is there were still a few instances of me thinking “And you are?”

I felt the last few chapters were a little rushed with everything crammed in to set you up for the next book, however if Somerton 2 is anything like Secrets and Sapphires I will definitely be reading it.

Recommend it?


Secrets and Sapphires is due out in January 2013

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