Diamonds and Deceit: At Somerton #2 by Leila Rasheed

An Edwardian era YA romance, this story is as engaging and captivating as the sagas of Downton Abbey and Upstairs Downstairs from the BBC.  Set just before the onset of WWI, Leila Rasheed introduces us to a cast of characters, each uniquely poised to present their perspective on London society, marriage, happiness, trust, love and betrayal.   I did not read the first in this series, a lack of exposure I am happy to report will be resolved shortly, but this novel did standalone perfectly well and I found no gaps in my understanding of the story.

Several characters are introduced throughout the story, some stay longer than others, and some impact the events and outcomes for better or worse.  With a curious mix of points of view and voices from each character contributing to the plot and flow, the story feels overwhelming at first, but quickly the unique voices and solid personalities of the characters becomes evident and sorts them out clearly in the reader’s mind.

Most of the younger women in this story are caught in the crossroads: their older mama’s and papa’s are raising them to be the coddled and cosseted decorations for their husband’s arms.  But, times are changing; women are asking for the vote and more personal freedoms, the age of the big houses and society’s stranglehold on the economy of England are starting to wane.  War is imminent, even as most of the characters are unaware of the rumblings in Europe, and the younger members in the service staff for the house have more opportunities are available than even a year or two before.  Society and technology are changing, and members of society need change too.

But, from the whirl of balls and debuts, even the ‘right’ connections isn’t always enough to guarantee a smooth entrance in society.  Rose’s father, a Lord, has finally adopted her and she is ready to present in society.  A harder early life, she can’t help but see the duplicitous behaviour above and below stairs regarding her appearance.  While men were far more able to withstand the pressures of societal constraint, they too could damage a young woman’s reputation.  Unfortunately, adding to Rose’s difficulties with the gossips and others of the ton, her friendship with Alexander, a reputed rake with a name tainted by scandal.   Add to this another character who is engaged to a solid man, but not in love, yet needing the alliance to save her family from the poorhouse.  Mix in a servant wrongly accused of a murder done by his master who happens to be the man who loves him, and a reporter that is coming all too close to that scandalous truth and the fun just never ends in this story.

This is a wonderful story to introduce a teen reader to the joys of historic romance, with both language and sexual content leaning to the sweeter side, as befits the era in which the story is set.  Several characters fall into the ‘love them or hate them’ categories, and there are enough moments and twists to keep a reader engaged as they follow the story to the end.  Descriptions are lush and precise, and the feel of the early 20th century is solid and visceral for all readers.   A completely solid series with, I hope, yet more to come.

Diamonds and Deceit: At Somerton #2 by Leila Rasheed

Title: Diamonds and Deceit
Author: Leila Rasheed
Genre: Historical Romance, Teen Reads
Published by: Disney/Hyperion
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Pages: 432
Rated: four-stars
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One house, two two in our sumptuous and enticing YA series about the servants and gentry at Somerton Court.

A house divided...

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.

Additional Purchase Links:  ALibris

A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

About Leila Rasheed

Leila Rasheed has gained an MA in both Children's Literature and Creative Writing. She started work at Reading Is Fundamental, a children's literacy charity, before moving to Belgium. Leila now works as the children's bookseller for Waterstone's in Brussels.

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