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Cinders & Sapphires (At Somerton) Hardcover – January 22, 2013

4.0 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the At Somerton Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The story begins with young Lady Ada, on her way back from India, sharing a shipboard kiss with Oxford-bound Ravi—a romantic moment forbidden on several levels. After the clarity of that chapter, confusion ensues: so many lords, ladies, ladies’ maids. The important ones include Ada’s father, Lord Westlake; his wealthy bride, Fiona; and her children, including the jealous Charlotte and gay Sebastian. Downstairs there is Ada’s new lady’s maid, Rose, who bears a startling resemblance to Lord Westlake. The story, told from multiple points of view, clearly gets its inspiration from Downton Abbey (read: British soap opera), and it’s as though a whole season is crammed into one book. Fans of the genre will certainly enjoy this, as will romance readers, who will feel as torn as Ada about whether she should pursue a relationship with Ravi (especially after he becomes an activist for Indian independence from Britain) or the eligible lord who appreciates a woman who wants an education, as Ada does. Stay tuned for more good fun. Grades 8-12. --Cooper, Ilene

About the Author

<DIV style="BORDER-BOTTOM: medium none; BORDER-LEFT: medium none; PADDING-BOTTOM: 0in; PADDING-LEFT: 0in; PADDING-RIGHT: 0in; BORDER-TOP: windowtext 1pt solid; BORDER-RIGHT: medium none; PADDING-TOP: 1pt; mso-element: para-border-div; mso-border-top-alt: solid windowtext .75pt">Leila Rahseed is the author of the middle grade Bathseba series, and a young adult novel calledThe World Turned Upside Down. Leila has two Masters degrees, one in Children's Literature and one in Writing.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 - 18 years
  • Grade Level: 7 - 12
  • Series: At Somerton
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion; 1St Edition edition (January 22, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1423171179
  • ISBN-13: 978-1423171171
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,112,836 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is almost an exact duplicate of Downton Abbey in many ways. Some of the similarities were remarkable, including love between one of the young ladies and a man of lower station, a homosexual couple sneaking around, the upper and lower classes theme, and the estate's finances being saved through a wealthy wife. Too many characters are introduced right away and I felt overwhelmed and frustrated when I couldn't keep them all straight.

I loved the atmosphere of the story. It has a beautiful air and feel to it that I adored. I enjoyed the scandal and drama, even though some of it felt forced. I'm interested to see how the rest of the story plays out, but I'm not sure that I'm interested enough to pursue the series any further.
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Format: Hardcover
*Published on Page Turners Blog 1/30/13*

There's something about an English estate and all the drama of not just the family that resides there, but their staff of servants that pulls me in each and every time.

Cinders and Sapphires addresses something different than most novels set in pre-WWI England - the start of the Indian independence movement. The scandal (which we know occurred but don't know the details of until the very end of the book) that caused the family to return to Somerton is just one of the factors that will keep you reading. And references to India's fight for independence, sprinkled within the plot, provided a layer of historical tension that added even more interest to the setting.

For me it was, of course, the romance factor that swayed my interest in the story. Lady Ava and Ravi stole my heart from page one when they met on the ship back to England. Their romance has it all - it's forbidden by class and threatened by revolution. As if that wasn't enough, there's an entire cast of characters - a new step-mother for Ava, step-siblings and a surprise revelation which comes from a very old, covered up scandal. I'm going to keep reading the series because it has everything I loved about "Downton Abbey" in book form - estate politics, the threat of outside forces destroying the current way of life, forbidden romance and complex characters all presented within the walls of an old estate which brims with secrets.

Pour yourself a cup of tea and grab a scone and enjoy a tale of family secrets and love in the most unexpected of circumstances.
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Format: Hardcover
I love with all my heart historical fiction. I'm a sucker for period dramas. I can never cease to get enough of the upstairs, downstairs stories containing star crossed lovers. Forbidden attraction with high stakes and I'm reeled in till the end.

Before I wax poetically on Cinders & Sapphires, let's discuss the cover. Am I the only one who thinks the girl in the middle (Ada) looks like a young Stephanie Meyer? I wonder if it was intentional, like that one Vampire Academy cover where the model on the front looks like Angelina Jolie? Hmmm.

Moving on, I enjoyed this book. It's like a YA version of Downton Abbey, minus the sharp tongue of Dowager Granthem. Like Downton, this book is filled with a giant cast of characters, from upstairs to downstairs, with a huge range of personalities. From mean and spiteful, to over the top playboys to innocent and naive.

The story is told in third person, and jumps from character to character on a dime, but the main characters are Ada Averley and Rose Cliffe. Ada's nobility, part of the gentry class. As such there are a lot of expectations placed on her, mostly to make a good match. Rose is a servant, and is treated as such. She's meek, mild mannered and not much is expected of her. Sadly her one talent cannot blossom because of her place in society.

I'm looking forward to book two in this series, I foresee big things for Rose, and Ada will have to make a major, life changing decision that could potentially rock her family's world.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Part historical fiction, part romance, and part scandal-filled drama, CINDERS & SAPPHIRES is the young adult, book form of Downton Abbey. I don’t usually like making comparisons between books and telly shows, but I think it’s an apt one to make in this case. I find Downton Abbey ridiculously addicting (I’ll watch 4-5 episodes a night), and CINDERS & SAPPHIRES is the same — I’ve read it twice this year, and can’t wait to read DIAMONDS & DECEIT, the second book in the series.

This is fun historical fiction. There’s not a ton of emphasis on the history aspects, although the author does bring in feminism, with Ada (one of the main characters) wanting to attend Oxford and supporting women getting the vote. There’s also mentions of British/Indian relations with Ada’s father leaving his post in India due to scandal, and her own interest in Ravi, an Indian boy attending Oxford. Otherwise, most of the focus is on various scandals and relationships between characters (both platonic and romantic).

CINDERS & SAPPHIRES is told from the viewpoints of various characters, both upstairs and downstairs, so you get a better picture of pre World War I Britain. Obviously, many of the things that happen in the book wouldn’t be so shocking today, but in the early 1900s, something as simple as looking at a boy not in your social class could ruin your reputation. Needless to say, the characters of this book are involved in a lot more than that.

There’s also not a lot of character development in CINDERS & SAPPHIRES. I was skeptical of Ada “falling in love” so quickly with Ravi, since they kiss once and she decides she’s fallen for him. Charlotte, Ada’s step-sister, is rather petty and jealous without much explanation of why. But, unusually, I didn’t really care. I was too into the book and just having fun reading it to analyze too much. CINDERS & SAPPHIRES is very fast moving; I read it in about 2 hours. I just couldn’t get enough.
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