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Book Review: Cinders and Sapphires by Leila Rasheed

Although I bit thrown off at first, I couldn’t believe how quickly I read through Cinders and Sapphires! It’s proclaimed as a “delicious” read…well, this taste-tester APPROVES!

Book Review: Cinders and Sapphires

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cinders and sapphires leila rasheed

Title & Author: Cinders & Sapphires (At Somerton) by Leila Rasheed

Genre: YA – Historical, Period

Release Date: January 22, 2012

Series: At Somerton #1

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

How I Got the Book: ARC from Publisher


“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.”

Diamond in the Rough

When I peeled back the cover of Cinders and Sapphires, I was under the impression I was getting the same if not a very similar story to Downton Abbey (now playing in the U.S.!!!!).

So, I was really surprised and a bit thrown off when the story of affluent Ada Westlake and her maid Rose Cliffe appeared in front of me.

It is NOT a similar storyline to Downton Abbey AT ALL. This isn’t a bad thing, but it was confusing because the whole back cover promotes it as a YA version of our fave British TV drama.

I did recover quickly, and let me tell YOU, the one thing Downton and Cinders and Sapphires has in common is DRAMA!!

Ada’s calm family life quickly turns upside down when her father, Lord Westlake, gets remarried to a much younger woman…who happens to have three grown children. One of Fiona Templeton’s children is Charlotte, who it should come as no surprise is a total B.

What you can expect from this book: aforementioned DRAMA, forbidden romances (so many!), convincing servants and scheming socialites. HECK YES!

Like I said, after giving this book the ole’ side squinty eye, I ended up loving it. It’s like watching scripted reality TV, only in England during the pre-World War era.

Delicious with a Side of Beef

My teensiest, tiniest beef with this book involves people with good hearts. I realize that there are the designated “bad” characters, who scheme and plot and are generally miserable human beings, but everyone else seemed too good.

One example is that Rose has the opportunity to expose a HUGE secret of Ada’s. It would save herself and her mother’s positions at Somerton but would place Ada in a very uncomfortable spot. Although I loved and appreciated Rose’s loyalty to Ada, it was almost too perfect of a reaction.

Maybe because it was YA that it lacked some of the hard, cold-bloodied actions in Downton. I mean HELLO, O’Brien would CUT YOU in a heartbeat.

Exhibit A:

downton abbey o'brien cinders and sapphires

See what I mean?

Anywho, my other side dish of beef is simply that Cinders and Sapphires is also like reality TV in that it could rot your brain. Well, not rot it, but….soften it. It won’t make you think (hard) or push your boundaries, but it is a WHOLE lot of fun.


Please pick up this late January release. It is seriously SO GOOD! Leave your preconceived ideas from Downton Abbey at home, and start fresh with this YA take on the TV series. Cinders and Sapphires is fun, startling and scandalous.

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.