Under the Jeweled Sky by Alison McQueen

UNDER
Under the Jeweled Sky by Alison McQueen
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (416 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

London 1957. In a bid to erase her past and build the family she yearns for, Sophie Schofield accepts a wedding proposal from ambitious British diplomat, Lucien Grainger. When he is posted to New Delhi, into the glittering circle of ex-pat high society, old wounds begin to break open as she is confronted with the memory of her first, forbidden love and its devastating consequences.

The suffocating conformity of diplomatic life soon closes in on her. This is not the India she fell in love with ten years before when her father was a maharaja’s physician, the India of tigers and scorpions and palaces afloat on shimmering lakes; the India that ripped out her heart as Partition tore the country in two, separating her from her one true love. The past haunts her still, the guilt of her actions, the destruction it wreaked upon her fragile parents, and the boy with the tourmaline eyes.

Sophie had never meant to come back, yet the moment she stepped onto India’s burning soil as a newlywed wife, she realised her return was inevitable. And so begins the unravelling of an ill-fated marriage, setting in motion a devastating chain of events that will bring her face to face with a past she tried so desperately to forget, and a future she must fight for.

A story of love, loss of innocence, and the aftermath of a terrible decision no one knew how to avoid.

When Sophie’s father takes a job working at the Maharajah’s palace in India, she’s ready for the adventure to begin. Little does she expect she’ll meet the love of her young life and that everything will change for her in a moment’s notice. What do you do when a spur of the moment indulgence sets the course of your future?

Sophie is a very flawed character, but that only makes her more interesting. She’s young, she’s bored, she’s a bit selfish, and she’s conflicted. Basically, she’s everything any young woman might be. It’s the way she handles her flaws that makes her so wonderful, however. To cure her boredom, she looks for adventure. To repent for her selfishness, she admits it to herself and seeks to be better. That she keeps finding herself in less than happy circumstances only gives her more chance to grow and show what she’s made of. She is a unique and fascinating character who makes you want to follow her around to see what will happen next.

I loved that this novel alternated between Sophie’s two residences in India, even if on occasion it took me a minute to figure out whether we were in the 1940’s or the 1950’s. The historical aspect was present and accounted for, but you also weren’t hit over the head with a million historical details either. You’re given enough to know where you are, when you are, and what’s going on at the time. It was a nice balance.

Under the Jeweled Sky is a love story of epic proportions, covering every love a young girl could ever have. A combination of first love, parental love, and so much more as you travel through ten years of Sophie’s life. Beautifully written and set in an exotic location only adds to the wonder that is this novel. I’d highly recommend Under the Jeweled Sky simply for the historical aspect, but the forbidden romance she shares with Jag raised the enjoyment level for me.

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