**SPOILERS AHEAD - proceed with caution**
Emeralds & Ashes by Leila Rasheed
Release date: Goodreads says February 19th; however, in the email from the publicist, she told me January 6th.
This e-galley was provided by Disney-Hyperion in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: The murmurs of war have turned into a bloody conflict that will touch the lives of every member of the Somerton household.Despite the pleas of his family, Lord Averley steps forward as soon as the call is made for men to fight the Western front. Mere weeks later, the news arrives: Lord Averley has been killed in the Battle of Marne. Without an obvious heir, Somerton falls into chaos. Half of the staff has already left for the war or industrial work.
Sebastian Templeton can no longer show his face in public. Ever since the publication of a now infamous photo of him and his former valet embracing, an unspeakable word has followed Sebastian everywhere--a word with the power to destroy a man's reputation forever. Knowing charges and a trial will soon follow, Sebastian does the only thing he can think of to escape: he volunteers for a war he feels is senseless and despicable, leaving behind the boy he loves, but knows can never have.
Meanwhile, after a whirlwind romance with the Duke of Huntley, Rose Averley finds herself trapped in Egypt when war breaks out during their honeymoon. Alexander vows to return Rose to home and safety, but with no end in sight, Rose knows she cannot sit idle as those around her suffer.
In the final installment of the At Somerton series, the war to end all wars will take an unbearable toll on the household and leave each member forever changed.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: That synopsis is awfully misleading and spoiler-filled, considering the Earl of Westlake doesn't pass away until the end of act one. Additionally, it led me to believe we'd see Rose's POV and we never do. But that's me nitpicking a bit. My real criticisms entail the POV jumps and some of the romantic relationships. The POV changed nearly every chapter and there were a lot of characters who were seen. I would've liked to stick with one of them for longer than a chapter. Also, I wasn't happy with how all the relationships ended. I won't spoil too much but there are three things I want to address.
1. There are two characters who use the word love awfully fast; I did sense them developing feelings for each other, but I'm not sure love is the word I would've used so soon.
2. Georgiana has had a crush on Michael since book 1 and it's a bit weird to me, seeing as how they're step-siblings.
3. There was a character who was set up as Ada's love interest and I seriously thought there would've been a hint of a happily ever after with them (considering this is the final book in the series). I'm okay with Ada being independent and unmarried, but if you set up a relationship...don't leave your readers hanging!
I did enjoy, however, the perspectives of World War I that were in Emeralds & Ashes. There aren't too many books that feature the first world war, and I liked that we saw nurses, soldiers, and families affected. Also, one of my favorite parts of the entire series, and especially this book, has been Charlotte's character development. She used to be selfish and horrid and now she's loving, giving, and brave. Her happiness was a bright spot in the tragedy that was most of the Averley/Templeton family's existence in Emeralds & Ashes. Ada and Georgiana were great, as always. Those girls have lost both their parents, and they're still strong and great characters.
Language and romance are mild. Violence and injuries are perhaps the worst (descriptions of some of the things Charlotte sees in a hospital, what Sebastian faces in the war, etc.).
The Verdict: Such a great conclusion, although I wish the series wasn't ending here! I want more At Somerton adventures.