Suitors and Sabotage by Cindy Anstey
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Publication Date: April 17, 2018
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads):
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. . .
What I Liked:
It's no secret that I love Cindy Anstey's books! YA historical romance - how delightful! I am a huge adult historical romance junkie, and these YA HR novels are giving me LIFE. Suitors and Sabotage is Anstey's third YA HR standalone (all three books are unrelated, completely standalone novels and not companion novels), and it's safe to say that her books are all fun and swoony to read. I'm very excited about this new one being printed in hardcover! Anstey deserves this and more!
This story starts with Imogene's suitor Ernest Steeple arriving a day earlier than expected, with his younger brother Benjamin Steeple. Imogene is expected to accept Ernest's offer whenever the young man proposes, as he is her only suitor. She and Ernest barely know each other, hence why Ernest has arrived to visit. As Imogene gets to know Ernest, she realizes that she can't see herself sharing a life with the man. Instead, she sees Ben, the architecture apprentice, the charming, teasing young man who puts everyone at ease and makes all the ladies laugh. But someone is trying to sabotage Ben, and for what reason, Imogene and Ben can't understand. It's only a matter of time before something truly dangerous occurs... not unlike falling in love!
I was actually a little nervous about this one because I figured there would be a love triangle of some sort. But there really wasn't! Ernest is doing his duty in trying to find a wife, and the more Imogene gets to know him, the more she realizes that she would grow to like him... as a friend. There was never any competition or real "love triangle", because not once did Imogene develop feelings for Ernest, and Ernest, well, he wanted a wife but I'm not certain he specifically wanted Imogene.
This type of romance is always tricky, involving two brothers and a woman. But I thought Anstey navigated it perfectly. I like forbidden romance but hate it when it involves two brothers. But this romance seemed to work; Imogene was never "unfaithful" to her suitor, but her feelings for Ben grew nonetheless. And Ben never betrayed his brother, but his own feelings grew.
As is Anstey's style, the romance was sweet, adorable, swoony, and very subtle. There weren't passionate kisses or steamy chemistry, but there was plenty of rising interest and subtle tension. Ben and Imogene clicked, and they began a solid friendship, which turned into more.
Ben is an upstanding gentleman, and Imogene is a kind and shy lady. Their personalities worked well together, especially with Ben being so lively and fun, and Imogene being a quiet dreamer. Ben is studying to be an architect and Imogene wants to teach art - their passions are not always looked kindly upon, but they follow their dreams nonetheless.
The story was full of charm, subtle swoon, and a little bit of mounting drama! The drama being all of the "incidents" that keep occurring, of which Ben was in the middle. Someone is trying to sabotage Ben and he ends up getting hurt several times. But why?
Also worth noting is how Anstey's books are always subtly feminist and in a very positive but not-in-your-face way. I love that Imogene wants to follow her dreams of being an art teacher - and I love how Ben acts like this is the most normal thing in the world (remember the time period), and he can see his life with her and both of their careers. This was fantastic!
All in all, this novel was a delight to read. I had nothing to be worried about, and I thoroughly enjoyed this historical fiction romp. The ending is perfectly lovely and definitely a HEA, so no worries there either. I am continuously impressed by Anstey!
What I Did Not Like:
I so wanted a bit of a romance for a certain character (you can guess who), but I suppose I can create one in my head. Not a huge complaint, but it would have been nice!
Would I Recommend It:
I highly recommend this book and any of Anstey's novels, if you like historical fiction/historical romance. Adult HR fans will LOVE this YA HR novel. It isn't full of kisses and chemistry and passion BUT it is a fun and sweet romance novel set in the 1800s. These books are simply lovely to read, and I can't get enough!
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