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Secrets & Sapphires

Leila Rasheed
"DOWNTON ABBEY meets GOSSIP GIRL in this racy first instalment of an exciting new sequence"
Secrets & Sapphires – picture

DOWNTON ABBEY meets GOSSIP GIRL in this racy first instalment of an exciting new sequence

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 fiancĂ©e 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.

Publication Date: Thu 3 Jan 2013
ISBN Paperback: 9781471400865
ISBN Ebook: 9781471400872

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Author

Leila Rasheed

Leila Rasheed was brought up in Libya and moved to England when she was thirteen. She has worked as a children's bookseller for Waterstone's in Brussels and for a national children's literacy charity, but now writes and teaches creative writing full time. She has two Masters degrees, one in Children's Literature and one in Writing.

She currently lives in Birmingham with her husband, who is a Danish composer, and their baby son. She loves reading about history and archaeology and would like to be reincarnated as Indiana Jones. Leila has previously written three fiction books for younger readers called THE DIARIES OF BATHSHEBA CLARICE DE TROP, but SECRETS & SAPPHIRES is her first novel for young adults. Follow Leila at www.leilarasheed.com or on Twitter: @LeilaR

Extract

Lady Ada Averley leaned on the rail of the steamboat Moldavia, feeling the hum of the ship's huge engines through the steel, a rhythmic shudder like a giant's breathing. The black sea glittered with the reflection of the stars above her, and the wind tugged at her hat and loosened the dark curls that framed her pale face. Her features were a perfect mirror of her late mother's, but the gray eyes and the proudly lifted chin were pure Averley. This steamboat had carried many young Englishwomen to India in its time, just as it would have carried any other commodity that was in short supply in the colonies. Less frequently did it bring them back again. Even less frequently was the Englishwoman in question as attractive and eligible as Lady Ada, eldest child of the Earl of Westlake. The wild romantic shores of Italy lay behind them; tonight they were passing through the Straits of Gibraltar. Before Ada lay England, and the prospect of her first season this coming spring. But she was not looking forward to the dances and the attention of young men. Her mind was as restless as the sea. She knew what her late mother's friends said about her. "Quite beautiful," they agreed, "but too serious." It was understandable, they said, with the tragedy of her mother's death and the responsibility she had inherited for her delicate younger sister. That was not all. The news about her father's resignation from the post of lieutenant-governor only added to her worries. Georgiana was too young and too naturally lighthearted to understand the severity of the rumors that circled like kites, but Ada understood what they meant for her, on the eve of her first season. At least the other debutantes would be relieved: another contender out of the race meant more chances for them. It seemed her parents' efforts to bring up a perfect lady would be wasted.