by Leila Rasheed
Release Date: Jan 22, 2013
Source: ARC sent by publisher
My Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Summary from goodreads.com:
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.
Finally, authors and publishers are catching on to the Downton Abbey trend! Many readers are starved to read more stories about the glittering era in which Downton is set, and finally more books are being published about this time and setting. Is it jumping on the bandwagon? Sure, but I am glad for it, and hope there are more to come. This book fits the bill for readers wanting more of this type of story.
At first, I will admit that I wasn't getting into the story. There was a prologue (I just don't like them) and the beginning chapters were very descriptive of the grand house and its day to day workings. There is one big "secret" that is terribly obvious from the beginning. Add to that a huge amount of characters and names to keep straight (a list at the beginning of the book may have been helpful), and I thought I was going to be disappointed.
However, very soon, the story took off in so many directions, that I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. The characters started to become very well developed, and most were not caricatures or stereotypes. They were well-rounded and seemed fresh, and also current even with the historical setting. New secrets started to emerge that I didn't see coming. I was quickly proven wrong in my initial misgivings about the book.
I can't wait to read more of this series, and I'm so glad that we will get to read more about these great characters. Rose was a bit too normal, or average for me. Sure, she was likable, but things just seemed to happen around her instead of her really taking charge. Ada was more interesting to me, with her hopes and dreams of going to a university. Also, the secondary characters were all extremely interesting and probably a bit more more unique and multi-faceted than the leads.
Main Characters: 5/5
Supporting Characters: 5/5
Bottom Line: The perfect read for Downton Abbey addicts!