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Review: Secrets and Sapphires by Leila Rasheed

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 Averleys' reputation forever. With plenty of scheming, scandal and sauciness, SECRETS & SAPPHIRES is a thrilling period-drama perfect for fans of Jilly Cooper and DOWNTON ABBEY.

My thoughts

I will admit this book came to me at probably the right time. I broke my leg August bank holiday weekend and had been filling the days in the month since doing it with marathon DVD sessions and I happened to start Downton Abbey and ended up watching every single episode available back to back and then as chance would happen I picked this book up purely based on release date without reading the cover and suddenly low and behold I had a version of what I had seen on the screen in my hands which was every bit as interesting and compelling as I had found Downton whilst being its own story in its own right. The history geek in me was very very excited to have stumbled upon this gem of a find. Secrets and Sapphires is a new series releasing in early 2013 revolving around the lives of those living at Somerton Hall and mostly focuses on the story of Ada the daughter of Lord Westlake. Ada has just moved back to Somerton after spending a long time living its her father and sister in India whilst he worked out there and the family's return seems to be under a cloud and Ada has to contend with a new family as her Father weds Ada's new stepmother instantly after returning to Somerton who bring in tow her children.

 I enjoyed several things about this novel. Firstly it very much gives both and upstairs and downstairs view of the household and while it take a while to get your head around the variety of characters you meet I liked to see both perspectives. I enjoyed Ada's story as you see her torn between what she wants to do with her ambition to go to university and a blossoming friendship with a young Indian man Ravi and what she is expected to do as she attends grand parties and fends off marriage proposals from wealthy older men whom she has no desire to marry. I also enjoyed the storyline that involved her newly appointed ladies maid and developed a soft spot for her new step brother Sebastian whom I am hoping to see more of in future books.

I won't go not more detail about the storyline or characters for fear of unwittingly telling you something that might spoil the book for you as I loved uncovering them for myself and am sure others will too. All in all a fantastic first book in a series I know I am going to love. Compulsive, compelling and engaging from the first page to the last with a whole host of characters I can't help but want to know more about.


I'm really looking forward to this. It's been a long time since I've really fallen in love with a historical series so maybe this will be the one!
Jess said…
Glad to hear you enjoyed this one it's on my TBR and sound like something I'll really enjoy!
I got an ARC of this and I'm excited to hear that it reads a lot like Downton Abbey since I enjoyed the show so much. Can't wait to meet all the great characters!