If you are a fan of Downton Abbey like I am then you cannot pass up this fantastic new novel CINDERS & SAPPHIRES by Leila Rasheed. A fiery new protagonist, a forbidden love and unimaginable desires in a world where propriety and manners are everything. Please take a seat, sip some tea and have a scone as you read a sneak peek of this new novel and get to know the main character a bit better. 


Lady Ada Mary Edwina Aveline Averley is the elder daughter of Lord Edward Averley, Earl of Westlake, and the late Lady Mary Olivia Averley, Countess of Westlake. She was born seventeen years ago at Somerton Court. However, Ada has spent most of her life in India, which she considers home. Blessed with both great beauty and wealth, Ada’s return to England has sparked endless gossip about who she may marry, but Ada has little interest in balls, clothes, and engagements. She has what some consider an unhealthy interest in reading and politics. Her passion about women’s rights is particularly fierce and rather disconcerting to certain members of her circle, including her stepmother Lady Fiona Averley and stepsister Charlotte Templeton.  Ada is devoted to her father, who recently resigned from his post as Lieutenant Governor of Bengal amidst a great scandal that has followed Ada’s family all the way from India. She is equally devoted to her younger sister, Georgiana, whose delicate health requires Ada’s constant attention. Although the formalities society are tedious for someone of Ada’s intellect, she is a romantic at heart, and finds it trying to always be proper. In fact, she fears she is often the opposite of proper when it comes to love.

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An Interview with ADA AVERLEY

· From the very beginning it is clear that YOU (Ada Averley) are an appealing and unconventional heroine for your time. Instead of being a proper lady your priority is to attend Oxford and become a journalist, why is that?
Sometimes I ask myself the same question. It isn’t easy to be out of step with your times. Perhaps I’m selfish to want to go to university even though I know my father disapproves. It certainly isn’t the attitude of a dutiful daughter. But I can’t lie to myself. I know that I have the intelligence and ability to make a difference in the world. Isn’t that what we all should do? Shouldn’t we try to make the world a better place?

· If you could become a journalist what would you like to write about?
I would like to expose injustice in British society. A decade into the twentieth century, modernity is rushing towards us at the speed of the automobile. And yet children still live in slums, disease and poverty steal hope from families. This is wrong.

· If you could go on any adventure without having to worry about your station in life, where would you like to go.?
I would like to go back to India. I still think of it as my home, in a way. I’d like to wander around and explore its many beauties.

· What made you fall for Ravi and do you think that you both could ever express your true intentions publicly?
Most men look at me and see a title. Others see a pretty face. Ravi is the first man I’ve ever met who saw me, Ada. Sadly, I don’t think we would ever be accepted as a couple by my family. If he were a maharajah, things might be different. But he can offer neither wealth nor status, and so my father would never accept him.

· What changes would you like to be a part of for the improvement of women's rights?
I want women to be able to take their place alongside men in every field of work. Therefore I would like to see the universities of Oxford and Cambridge award degrees formally to their female students.

· Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years?
I hope I will be making a difference in some small way. And I hope I will be happy.

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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