Author: Leila Rasheed
My Rating: 4/5
"One house, two worlds...
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"
**THIS REVIEW IS BASED ON A THIRTEEN-CHAPTER PREVIEW OF CINDERS & SAPPHIRES THANSK TO DISNEY-HYPERION (ARC PROVIDED BY NETGALLEY)**
Ah, what a book! The first thirteen chapters of Cinders & Sapphires (which I believe is the first installment of a series) is like Downton Abbey meets Mean Girls: taking place during Edwardian England, the book tells the story of people--young and old--in one house, Somerton, of their hopes, love, and ambitions.
The characters, although clearly not from our time, are surprisingly relatable. Rose, a housemaid who is later promoted to a ladies' maid, is this young, beautiful, insecure girl who is unsure about her own place in the house. Her kindness, curiosity, and good humor makes me as a reader sympathize with her. Plus, the mystery shrouding her identity is all the more intrguing... Rose's lady, Ada, is the oldest daughter of the owner of Somerton. Although vastly different in social status, Ada and Rose share many similarities: both young and sometimes childish, they dream of opportunities they aren't supposed to have, things they aren't allowed to yearn for (boys included, may I mention). By making them utterly human, the author brings the characters to life--they feel so endearingly close to us the readers.
The author also does a good job describing the lifestyle of Edwardian England. While reading, I found the elaboration on architecture and interior designs of Somerton quite intriguing and evocative. Details concerning the ladies' dresses, etc, are also well paid attention to.
Having read only the first thirteen chapters, I don't really know enough about the story to give much criticism. One thing about this story, though: because people during that time of history have so many titles/names (Rose, for example, is referred to as Ms.Cliffe by people "lower" than her after her promotion), it might be hard to get into the story in the beginning. However, after some getting used to, I'm sure you will find yourself enjoying the read!