Thursday, July 24, 2014

Review: Diamonds & Deceit - Leila Rasheed

Diamonds & Deceit by Leila Rasheed
Series: At Somerton #2
Genre: YA, historical fiction
Published on January 7, 2014
Published by Disney-Hyperion
Pages: 420
Read From: 7.12.14 - 7.15.14

London is a whirl of balls and teas, alliances and rivalries. Rose has never felt more out of place. With the Season in full swing, she can't help but still feel a servant dressed up in diamonds and silk. Then Rose meets Alexander Ross, a young Scottish duke. Rose has heard the rumors about Ross's sordid past just like everyone else has. Yet he alone treats her as a friend. Rose knows better than to give her heart to an aristocrat with such a reputation, but it may be too late. 
Ada should be happy. She is engaged to a handsome man who shares her political passions and has promised to support her education. So why does she feel hollow inside? Even if she hated Lord Fintan, she would have no choice but to go through with the marriage. Every day a new credit collector knocks on the door of their London flat, demanding payment for her cousin William's expenditures. Her father's heir seems determined to bring her family to ruin, and only a brilliant marriage can save Somerton Court and the Averleys' reputation. 
Meanwhile, at Somerton, Sebastian is out of his mind with worry for his former valet Oliver, who refuses to plead innocent to the murder charges against him - for a death caused by Sebastian himself. Sebastian will do whatever he can to help the boy he loves, but his indiscretion is dangerous fodder for a reporter with sharp eyes and dishonorable intentions.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? Sure, I like it. It's very indicative of the story's era and what it might be like (i.e. like Downton Abbey).

Characters: Ada Averley continues to be a very likable protagonist; smart and perceptive and kind. I adored her even more for her sisterly affection towards Rose, who suffered at the hands of gossips and uncertainty. If possible, I liked Ada even more in this book. Rose, too, continues to be a very caring girl, very artistic, if not wholly sensible when it comes to Alexander Ross (more on that later). Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, my affection for both Sebastian and Oliver increased as well. I still don't really care for the whole "they're gay" plot, but it doesn't feel like the Author is trying to make a statement, so it didn't bother me too much. The bottom line is Oliver is huggable and adorable and I felt so bad for him. And Sebastian showed his better side in this one. On the other end of the spectrum, I liked Emily Maddox a little less in Diamonds & Deceit, and my affection for Lord Finton totally vanished. We learned a bit more about some of his little secrets, and it made me dislike him quite a bit. Ravi isn't in Diamonds & Deceit at all, so my opinion of him had no chance to waver or increase. ;-) Georgiana and Michael play a bigger role in Diamonds & Deceit, and it made me like them more. Georgiana fights to be strong and take on her role as chatelaine of Somerton, and Michael is so good to Priya, the Indian nursemaid, that I just adored him. Then there's Alexander Ross. . . .the rake. Perhaps unsurprisingly, his bad reputation isn't as bad as society has made it out to be, and I suspected that from the beginning, so I was prepared to like him. I do love characters who society has painted as rakes, but they really aren't. Alexander mostly falls into that category (he did a few things in his past that weren't totally commendable, but nothing as bad as society has said). I appreciated his disdain for society, their expectations, and his desire to follow his own path.

The Romance: I didn't find it as shallow as in Cinders & Sapphires, though it's by no means totally heartfelt. Rose hasn't known Alexander long at all before she's head-over-heels for him, despite his reputation. As far as Rose knows, he's as bad as society has declared him; she doesn't find out the truth until much later. Ada continues to struggle with herself over marrying Lord Finton when her heart really belongs to Ravi. Michael and Priya try to determine how to set a life up for themselves without bringing disgrace to the Averley name. And Sebastian and Oliver fight to hide their affections for one another, as a sneaky reporter keeps hanging around, trying to ruin Sebastian's reputation. As if this weren't enough, throw in an old flame between Lord Finton and Charlotte Templeton, and Charlotte's trying to get back at Lord Finton for throwing her over - by making eyes at Alexander Ross. There's also the little matter of Georgiana being in love with Michael. Yes, it's all quite complicated and dramatic, but it's also easy to follow. And it does take up quite a bit of the story - this is Downton Abbey for teens, after all.

Plot: Rose Cliffe has been officially acknowledged by Lord Westlake, her father, and now it is the Season and she must be introduced into society. But society isn't so welcoming of a former housemaid, and Rose must fight to claim her place in it as the daughter of an Averley. When Alexander Ross, a highly eligible Scottish duke - with a reputation - starts paying Rose attention, it may just be the notice she needs. But Rose is determined to guard her heart against the undeniable rake, and Charlotte Templeton is determined to not let Rose have him. There's just one problem: Rose is falling for Alexander. Meanwhile, Ada Averley is preparing for her wedding to Lord Finton. This marriage will secure her family's reputation, save Somerton from the reckless spending of Sir William, and will ensure her going to university. But her heart still belongs to Ravi, the Indian Oxford student she fell for long ago. Back at Somerton, Sebastian is fighting to get his valet Oliver released from prison, charged with a murder that Sebastian himself committed. But Oliver won't plead innocent, and with a sneaky reporter poking around, looking to expose Sebastian's greatest secret, he must tread carefully. Never has a Season in London been so filled with drama. And the similarities between Downton Abbey and this series continues! I'm not accusing the Author plagiarism, by the way. Conniving ladies' maids, society drama, and the complications of being a housemaid and wanting to better one's self are all quite realistic themes for the time period, so any Edwardian era novel is going to be similar to one another. But when one's mind has made the connection, it's hard to ignore the similarities. But I still loved this book. There isn't a single character who doesn't have a secret, or who is conniving, or who just has something bad happen to them. Nothing is straight forward; something always complicates it. There's not a dull moment with the Averleys. Between Charlotte's conniving ladies' maid Stella, Charlotte Templeton herself and her horrid mother, Sebastian and Oliver's explosive secret, and Sir William's lecherous behavior towards Priya, there's not a break from it. If there were flatout no likable characters, I don't think even the era would make me like this series as much as I do. But there are characters that I care about.

Believability: No complaints.

Writing Style: Third person, past tense. It's a very pleasant style, and the narration switches between who it follows, but it isn't confusing. The dialogue is very fitting for the era, too.

Content: Sebastian and Oliver are gay. [Spoiler] It's also implied that Sir William raped Priya [End spoiler]

Conclusion: Diamonds & Deceit ends with the breakout of WWI. Sounds familiar. But it really would be hard to have a series set in this era and not have it end with WWI starting. There were a few twists in the end I wasn't expecting, and I was also surprised at how wrapped up events are. I actually wondered if this were a duology. It's not; it's a trilogy. My main complaint is that Oliver's trial was too quickly wrapped up. But other than that, it ended just as satisfyingly as it began. Lots of drama in the beginning, lots of drama in the middle, and more drama at the end.

Recommended Audience: Girl-read, seventeen-and-up, fans of Downton Abbey and historical fiction.

Others in the At Somerton Series:
1)Cinders & Sapphires
2)Diamonds & Deceit


  1. It doesn't sound like a series I'd pick up, but I'm glad you're still enjoying it. :)

    1. Yeah, you've got to be able to enjoy the era and the drama in order to like this trilogy. What can I say - when a drama takes place in the Edwardian era, I'm hooked. :)

  2. is there a lot with Sebastian expressing his feelings for Oliver as there was just only a little in the first book?

    1. Since Oliver spends most of his time in jail in this book, there is actually even less of that in DIAMONDS & DECEIT.


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