Monday, June 6, 2016

Cinders & Sapphires

    Books are like food. Some are Thanksgiving dinner; filling and delicious with a lot of fixings and sides. Some are popcorn; light and fluffy without any real substance but dangerously addictive. Cinders & Sapphires* by Leila Rasheed is total popcorn, but it's delicious, hot, movie theater popcorn with extra butter and I truly enjoyed it.
    The book, which is the first title in the "At Somerton" trilogy, is definitely for the Downton Abbey lovers and Jane Austen aficionados out there. A rich Victorian family has just returned to their palatial estate in the English countryside after spending many years in India, where the patriarch, Lord Averley held a government post. His return home however, is marred by rumors that he did something terrible to disgrace himself while abroad, and he quickly marries a wealthy woman of high stature in order to save face... and save the mansion since his good-for-nothing heir has basically been spending like a drunken sailor on leave while he has been gone.
    Of course the new wife is awful, and has an awful daughter with an awful ladies' maid and together they set about to make the lives of the two Averley sisters as miserable as possible. Meanwhile every single member of the household has all kinds of secrets: there's a secret interracial love affair, a secret love child, a secret gay relationship, and many, many secret crushes.
     The book is extremely soapy, and a teeny bit melodramatic, but it never once made me roll my eyes in horror, and believe me, I am a world-class eye roller.  The book is very much outside my comfort zone since romance novels are not something I normally gravitate to, but this was not really a romance novel, more a study in the dangerous politics and class structures of the time it is set in. i am actually dying to read the next book in the series! **

Final Rating: 4/5 bookmarks.

*: Please note, this book is also available under the title "Secrets & Sapphires" in the UK and elsewhere, "Cinders and Sapphires" is the US title published by Disney-Hyperion.

**: Please note, there are 3 books in the series, but the 3rd is not available in hard format, only as a Kindle e-book.

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