Suitors and Sabotage
by Cindy Anstey
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: April 17, 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Romance
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Two young people must hide their true feelings for each other while figuring out who means them harm in this cheeky Regency romance from the author of Love, Lies and Spies and Duels & Deception.
Shy aspiring artist Imogene Chively has just had a successful Season in London, complete with a suitor of her father’s approval. Imogene is ambivalent about the young gentleman until he comes to visit her at the Chively estate with his younger brother in tow. When her interest is piqued, however, it is for the wrong brother.
Charming Ben Steeple has a secret: despite being an architectural apprentice, he has no drawing aptitude. When Imogene offers to teach him, Ben is soon smitten by the young lady he considers his brother’s intended.
But hiding their true feelings becomes the least of their problems when, after a series of “accidents,” it becomes apparent that someone means Ben harm. And as their affection for each other grows—despite their efforts to remain just friends—so does the danger. . .
In Suitors and Sabotage, author Cindy Anstey delivers another witty young adult historical fiction novel that is the perfect mix of sweetly romantic and action-packed.My rating:
Love was a gift, a compliment. It might not be reciprocated…
Imogene Chively’s suitor Ernest Steeple arrived at the Gracebridge Manor a little too early with his brother Ben Steeple. She was expected to say yes whenever Ernest asked her hand in marriage, especially her father. However, it turned out that Ben has caught Imogene’s eyes even more than it should be because Mr. Chively had always Ernest’s company instead of spending it together with Imogene to know each other really well, with a little time for both of them.
Studying architecture as a first-year apprentice in Canterbury and granted with the summer off, Ben could not really draw and didn’t know how to render his own designs. He realized that what he needed all along was having the right teacher. With Imogene’s impeccable talent, Ben knew she was the one he was looking for.
As they’ve spent more time together with heated glances and a furtive kiss behind a parasol, their feelings grew even they didn’t want to. With a series of incidents, rather than an accident and what started out as tomfoolery, became desperate and threatening, it was a mystery as to who and why someone likes to harm Ben. Was it because of an insatiable need for mischief or was it done out of delusion caused by sorrow? Probably someone who got a fit of secret jealousy that no one knew was coming.
At the beginning of the story, I thought that there was a love triangle of some sort (thankfully there’s none) and it got complicated when Emily, Imogene’s best friend thought that she was in love with Ben too. Ernest wanting to know Imogene better before the imminent marriage, Imogene who felt something for Ben rather than her original suitor, Ben who denied his feelings for Imogene because he didn’t want to betray his brother and so he flirted with Emily who meant that there was something more between them — the dynamic within these characters were undeniable. I really enjoyed each time they were all in the same room together because it always felt like the long-awaited secret would finally be revealed.
While insta-love existed and was twisted into a slow-burned romance where Ben and Imogene’s relationship developed into something more, I couldn’t say that it worked well for me the way I wanted it when the pacing was sometimes tedious and uneventful. All I know is that the chemistry between Imogen and Ben was just perfect, swoony, and dreamy.
As I went along and all these mishaps were keep coming with an air of mystery which I didn’t realize until after Emily and Imogene were trying to figure out the true culprit behind, the story got me on a spiral.
The “sabotage” aspect came to me by surprise though there were moments in the story that made me think it was all about Ben because he inadvertently came between Imogene and Ernest, and the real shift was he’s actually the one being sabotage.
What I love most was how the story ended with the realization of Imogene becoming an exemplary character who have dreams of her own. What seems to be a disaster was only just a minor setback in the fulfillment of her becoming an art teacher and setting up a studio or art academy. Even if her father would not agree, she knew that what she has was never been a pipe dream but something tangible if only she believed in herself.
I also like Imogene and Emily’s friendship because even if it was problematic or they were not entirely honest with each other, they acknowledge it in the end. They didn’t let one man come between their relationship as friends but instead became even more supportive with each other.
Suitors and Sabotage by Cindy Anstey is a fun and delightful read with Regency-filled setting and a Jane Austen vibe into it. I would still recommend this book as I am looking forward to reading more books from the same author like Carols and Chaos, which will be a spin-off to Matt and Kate’s story to be released later this year.
Thank you to NetGalley, MacMillian Children’s Publishing Group – Swoon Reads, Xpresso Book Tours and Cindy Anstey for providing me an eARC in exchange for a fair and honest review!
About The Author:
Cindy Anstey loves history, mystery and… a chocolate Labrador called Chester. Love, Lies and Spies is her debut novel.
Whenever she is not sitting at the computer, throwing a ball in the backyard, gardening or reading, Cindy can be found–actually, not found–adventuring around the world with her hubby.
She has lived on three continents, had a monkey in her yard and a scorpion under her sink, dwelt among castles and canals, enjoyed the jazz of Beale St and attempted to speak French.
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