After I read Diamonds and Deceit (link leads to my review), I was so impressed that I went to hunt down the first book in this series. Unfortunately, although the book was a fun read, it lacked the depth of its sequel. Since I did read the sequel first (oops), I'll be comparing the two books for most of my review.
Diamonds and Deceit deals with Ada and her sister as they return from India. And of course, her father quickly marries Mrs Templeton, who can be seen to be very pleased at becoming "Lady" Averly. With her come her children, including the irritating Charlotte.
Cinders and Sapphires, in its way, sets everything very nicely up for the second book. The characters are well-written, and it's clear that the family dynamics that were created in this book was sustained all the through to the second book. This was the part of the book I enjoyed the most. In fact, one of the huge tragedies of the second book is set up very nicely here - I won't say what, but it involves Priya, the Indian nursemaid.
Rose and Ada's characters were also well-written. The second book alludes the Rose's love of music, but it doesn't show how talented she is like this book does. The same goes for Ada and her love for learning, as well as her desire to go to university.
But, what I didn't like were the love relationships. Especially Ada's. Michael and Priya and a sadly non-eventful start (if there even was a start), but Ada's love triangle, well, it was very disappointing. While I admired her star-crossed romance with Ravi in Diamonds and Deceit, Ada was just a love-struck girl here. She fell in love instantly and she fell hard. The fact that I don't like insta-love made me very hard to root for her relationship, and it was sad to see an intelligent girl lose her mind like that. And as for her relationship with Lord Fintan, well, I still don't get why he proposed. I would have liked them to have more of an interaction. Compared to the interesting love shared by Rose and Lord Alexander, the romances here were silly and over dramatic.
If you didn't read this book, well, I don't think you missed that much. I find that the sequel has much more depth and is way more interesting than this. Taken alone though, it's an interesting novel in its own melodramatic way.