A thoroughly satisfying romp for Downton Abbey fans.
Lady Ada Averley, returning by steamboat to her British ancestral estate after a childhood in India, shares a furtive, passionate kiss with Ravi, an Indian revolutionary. At 16, Ada prefers books to ball gowns and dreads the byzantine formalities of the upcoming social season; she'd rather convince her father to let her attend Oxford than find a husband. But the family's name is imperiled by scandal, and Ada's loyalty demands that she play the game, even as Ravi dominates her thoughts. Ada's emerging social consciousness—she gamely struggles against the pervasive sexism, racism and classism of pre–World War I England—provides an intellectual backbone for what could easily have been just another high-society soap opera. Rasheed sidesteps sanctimony, however, by infusing the story with humor, vivid descriptions—a diamond hangs in a debutante's décolletage "as tempting as the fly on a fishing line"—and a surplus of intrigue above and below stairs, propelling the narrative toward the cliffhangers of the final pages.
Breathless readers will look forward to the next sudsy chapter in this planned series. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)