Diamonds and Deceit

Written by Leila Rasheed
Review by Elizabeth Hawksley

London, 1913. In this, the second of the Somerton novels, we follow the fortunes of Lady Rose, once a housemaid, and now the acknowledged illegitimate daughter of the Earl of Westlake; her half sister, Lady Ada; and their step-sister, Charlotte Templeton. The London Season is in full swing, and all three girls are expected to find husbands.

But things don’t always go to plan, especially where love is concerned. Rose feels out of place; she is aware that her social position is precarious. She longs to return to her beloved music, but the Season is too all-consuming. Then she meets the dangerous Alexander, Duke of Huntleigh, who is surprisingly sympathetic.

Ada has parted from her beloved Ravi, who has returned to India. She knows that marriage to Ravi is out of the question, and that Laurence, Lord Fintan, is a far more eligible parti¸ but, somehow, her heart doesn’t agree.

Neither Rose nor Ada knows that Charlotte is absolutely determined on finding a wealthy husband. The man she loves is Laurence, who is about to become betrothed to Ada, but the Duke of Huntleigh is also a matrimonial prize. Charlotte is fully aware of her own charms and determined to use them to get what she wants, no matter which step-sister gets hurt.

I enjoyed this sparkling romp. There’s plenty to engage the reader’s interest, and the social whirl of the Edwardian Season, teetering on the edge of a volcano as war draws ever nearer, is very well-drawn. Unfortunately, Leila Rasheed hasn’t researched the state of Edwardian roads. A day trip to Cornwall from London, a distance of well over 200 miles, is impossible. In 1913, few Cornish roads had proper tarmac surfaces, and there was no motorway. Still, teenage girls will love this book for its glamour and excitement.