The sequel to Cinders & Sapphires, Diamonds & Deceit once again brings us the rich and drama-filled life of the Averley/Templeton family. With the revelations from the first book, we need a recap along with our summary! (Spoilers!)
Rose, the housemaid, was the illegitimate daughter of Lord Westlake and the housekeeper, Mrs. Cliffe. Rose Cliffe is now Lady Rose, formally adopted by Lord Westlake, and must fulfill all of her new expectations as the daughter of a lord. As such, it is her first season and she is formally presented to society. However, she is still learning the ropes and trying not to make a fool of herself while being mocked and ridiculed by society’s ladies and even her stepmother and stepsister. When she meets the new Duke of Huntleigh, she finds she isn’t the only one who despises all of society’s rules and gossip. Alexander, the Duke, is a rogue, albeit THE great catch of the season what with his newly inherited title and wealth. Even Charlotte has set her cap at him. Rose doesn’t know what to do, but she’s sure Alexander likes her, at least as a friend. With all of the other intrigues around her, is he telling the truth or will he ruin her for good?
For our other heroine, Lady Ada is being courted by Lord Fintan, who previously was involved with Charlotte, and whom Charlotte is desperate to catch as a husband. Since society and her father both dictate Ada would do well to accept Lord Fintan, her former love for Ravi and goals for her academic studies vie with her wish to do the right thing for herself and her family. Meanwhile, Charlotte, always the little minx, is still carrying on a love affair with Lord Fintan behind Ada’s back, and Lord Fintan wants a quick dash to the altar for him and Ada, even if he can’t resist kissing Charlotte. Will Ada find out before it’s too late, and will she choose status over her own wishes?
I should mention, this is Charlotte’s third season and after this it will be nigh impossible to get married. She loves Fintan, but she’ll take the Duke of Huntleigh with his wealth and power. Any desirable male she can catch, really. Charlotte is so Machiavellian and selfish, but she does leave a few surprises for us to discover.
Then there’s the boys…
In the previous book, Sebastian Templeton, the infamous rake, was in a secret relationship with his valet, Oliver. Another former valet threatened to expose Sebastian’s sexuality and went to attack him. Sebastian defended himself, and the old valet was accidentally killed. Rather than risk having Sebastian publically shamed and dragged through the mud in the papers, Oliver confesses he killed the valet and is sentenced to prison awaiting trial. Sebastian, determined not to mess it up this time with the boy he loves, will stop at nothing, even public embarrassment, to free Oliver, and along the way, may discover some secrets Oliver’s been hiding.
Finally, the youngest son, Michael Templeton, is hopelessly in love with the Indian nursemaid, Priya. The only one who knows about his engagement to Priya is his stepsister, Georgina, who adores Michael. Michael, young and stubborn, battles with himself to return to his education at Eton, and Georgina convinces him that it is the best way to give him and Priya the best start at life. While he is away, though, Priya’s torment at the hands of her employer, Lord Westlake’s heir Sir William, continues, and it leads to devastating consequences.
If you recall, I found the first book just scattered and not very likeable. I was happy to find this one a great read. Maybe I just didn’t like Ava and Ravi’s storyline previously, but this one mainly follows Rose. It helps that at least someone has a happy ending here, and it flows much like the addictive drama on Downton Abbey, even if characters/plots are not similar to the hit series. I cannot wait for the next one! Although it touches on sexuality and scandal, it is a pretty clean read.