Secrets and Sapphires
Series: At Somerton #1
Release Date: 3rd January 2013
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Source: Received from Publisher.
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 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.
Review: I think this has been the best historical novel I've ever read. It's full of secrets and scandal, and gosh there were a lot in here. So many main characters meant there was a lot more to lose. With a large supporting cast you really get the sense of grandeur, that is so fragile, one little secret can break it all. I loved how much depth and detail there was in the novel. Each character was unique and that must have been really hard for the author to do as there's a lot of them. There were characters you loved, others you loathed but each were crucial to the story and what a brilliant one it was.
Secrets and Sapphires joins the Averley family when they return to England after a scandal surrounding their father in India. At home the rumors are still flying around and it's up to the Lord's daughters to take the spotlight away from him. Ada has a secret of her own, one night on the ship that bought them home, she did the unthinkable and kissed a man. How unladylike of her, it's tainted her mind and she can't get the mysterious man out of her head. How is she going to prepare for her first season and all the eligible gentleman when the one she wants isn't there? The staff at Somerton Court have a surprise when they are told the Lord is bringing with him a fiance and her children. The fiance in question is rather stuck up as are her children but Ada and the family have to put up with them as they are bringing money into the family and household. Downstairs there's trouble brewing when the fiance's lady's maid thinks she's better than everyone else. Rose, a housemaid is in the middle of her own scandal and she doesn't even know about it. Secrets and flying from lips to lips, Scandals are happening around every corner and one little slip could lead the family to ruin.
I really liked Lady Ada's character, well actually I kinda loved her. When you say lady, do you picture a snobby girl who believes she's a princess? Yes, that was what I was expecting but no, Ada is so down to earth. She is ahead of her time, questioning everything and she's so intellectual The most important thing though is she wishes to throw away the chance of marriage to go to Oxford University where she can actually make a difference in the world. I loved this about Ada, she was so head strong and determined to do what she wanted, yes she knew her father would probably disagree with her but there was nothing that could stop her trying. She was willing to change and in England at the time, Change was a pretty big thing that was frowned upon by many. I also really like Rose, the housemaid. She knew how lucky she was to be employed at the time and she didn't want to lose that position. She tried her best at everything and the thing that could lead her to ruin, she didn't even know about. No matter what she did, if the truth came out, she would be ruined and why? Well you will have to read it and see.
This was a great historical novel. All the settings, culture and society were correct for the period and it must have taken a lot of research to perfect everything. I don't think I found any flaws to do with the time period itself. At first I was worried about the similarities to Downton Abbey and at first I could see it but this novel really is a masterpiece of it's own. It may be slow to bloom but once it gets that little bit of sunlight it truly does blossom. I loved the writing style especially and I cannot wait to see what happens next at Somerton. After all that ending was one shocker and I want to see how Somerton recovers.
The novel was told from many different point of view as quite a few characters had their own plot arc. Some only got a few pages of their point of view where as others got chapters, but it worked. It was brilliantly done, allowing the reader to see all the scandals that were going on revolving around Somerton Court. Whether they were small scandals or full blown ones they were all important and played a part in the future of Somerton.