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Suitors and Sabotage

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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.

Praise for Suitors and Sabotage:

A Junior Library Guild Selection

"Anstey’s tale embraces a self-reliant main character, a loyal friend, innocent romance, witty conversation, and English country settings, each more splendid than the last. This is a delightful salute to Jane Austen and will be a treat for her fans." —VOYA

"Mystery and romance are delightfully intertwined . . . Taking inspiration from Jane Austen novels, Anstey's latest is a lighthearted and romantic read." —Booklist

336 pages, Hardcover

First published April 17, 2018

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About the author

Cindy Anstey

7 books636 followers
Cindy fought a courageous (and stubborn) battle with cancer for 10 years. She took delight in proving several doctors’ prognostications wrong, until, finally, the disease won out. Cindy will be greatly missed.

She lived on three continents, had a monkey in her yard and a scorpion under her sink, dwelt among castles and canals and enjoyed the jazz of Beale St.

Cindy loves history, mystery and... a chocolate Labrador called Chester. The Hummingbird Dagger, her first YA mystery, was released April 2019; her second, Deadly Curious, was released in 2020.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 442 reviews
Profile Image for ❄️BooksofRadiance❄️.
600 reviews710 followers
December 21, 2018
A lighthearted romance in all its quintessential Englishness.

”... I am a reader. Nothing that I like better than quiet days of contemplation and the written word."

The art of seduction at its finest, ladies and gents. A man after my own heart.

Buddy read with Ma gurl!
Profile Image for Alyssa.
1,069 reviews837 followers
March 4, 2018
4.5 stars. Might round up to five, haven't decided!


***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog***

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!

Rating:

4 stars. I cannot wait to read Carols and Chaos, Anstey's next YA HR novel! I'm excited that it will be publishing in September - a shorter turnaround than usual. Swoon Reads, please keep publishing Anstey's books! And keep up the good work with these A+++ covers.



Pre-read squees:

HOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLYYYYYYYYY GUACAMOLEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!! More Cindy Anstey????????? YAAAAAAASSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!

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Profile Image for Stacee.
2,670 reviews701 followers
March 16, 2018
I have loved all of Cindy’s previous books, so I was beyond eager to start reading this one.

I loved Imogene and Ben. She’s smart and he’s charming and together they’re really good people with the most chemistry you could have during this time period. I’m a sucker for the longing filled glances from across a room and while we do get a bit of banter from them, the pesky fact that Imogene is nearly engaged to Ben’s brother is quite a fun snag.

Plot wise, it was delightful. There was a big group of characters and some of the reveals felt a bit convoluted; however, I was in it for Imogene and Ben and found I didn’t quite care. Of course there isn’t kissing until the end, but it completely works and I was so satisfied with the last few chapters.

Overall, it was a fun story with a great group of characters. I can’t wait to see what Cindy writes next.

**Huge thanks to Swoon Reads for providing the arc free of charge**
Profile Image for Tin.
24 reviews10 followers
April 18, 2018
The story started as Imogene was supposed to be engaged to Ernest but as we get through the book, Imogene realized that she isn’t in love with Ernest but only see him as a friend because her heart belonged to Ernest’s brother, Ben. Imogene is a shy lady with a passion for arts. She is awkward to talked to unless they talk about something she loves. Ben on the other hand is quite a gentleman who women loves, has a passion for architecture and dream of being an architect one day. Imogene and Ben were slowly falling in love with each other. They tried everything they could not to but eventually they fall for each other without any warning. The two are really good together, they have this chemistry that you can’t deny.

Along the book, these accidents kept on happening to Ben, which I think is definitely the sabotage part in the book. These incidents also added a little bit of mystery in the book. During these accidents Ben always ends up getting hurt, getting into trouble and worst, almost getting killed. Imogene thought that these things were happening intentionally and together with Emily, they wanted to find out who is the person behind all of these. I feel bad for Ben for getting hurt. It broke my heart a little.

As much as I would love Imogene and Emily’s friendship, there was just these times that they could’ve talk their problems out and fix it right away. Other than that, I like how they were supportive with each other and doing most things together like they were sisters. I would also love to know more about Ernest and Emily’s characters as we are more focused on the two, Imogene and Ben.

Suitors and Sabotage is a YA historical romance with a little bit of mystery that will keep you intrigued and a lot of family, friendship and romance that will keep you turning into the next page. Historical romance fans of all ages would definitely enjoy this book set in the Regency times.

This was my first read by this author and I think I would try reading her other books as they are historical fiction as well.
Profile Image for Scrill.
407 reviews233 followers
May 2, 2018
ARC received from Netgalley for a fair review.

When Imogene has a good season in London, her family deems it best for the most suitable gentleman to join them over the summer. She is eager to get to know her suitor better as a proposal is bound to come, that is until she meets his younger brother. As Imogene and Ben spend more time together, they do their best to fight off their growing feelings. However, it seems that someone amongst them seems to be plotting against Ben as many incidents happen that when put together just couldn’t be accidents.

The Story
How does Cindy Anstey do this? When I read her books I am reminded how much I just adore regency novels. All the proper manners and indirect speech. I love it. It gives more for the heart to yearn for.

So I docked a star solely for the fact that the book seemed to lag just a little bit in the middle. As Imogene and Ben got closer a lot of time was spent with them ignoring their feelings and just pushing it aside. Unfortunately for me I didn’t become really attached until Ben and Imogene were so wound up that they began to have a disagreement. Really it’s not the part where they are falling for each other, its the part where they just can’t be together that I find so riveting.

The fact that there was actually a 4-way love triangle at first seemed like such a terrible idea, but it turned out to work so perfectly. It made the growing tension more…intense. I just loved how much their affection grew as their denial was forced more and more. The complication of their feelings for each other affected so much more than just their own shyness or situation, it affected a brother and a best friend.



The underlying mystery of who was trying to subtly attack Ben definitely added substance to a story that could have just been about a real awkward situation between best friends and brothers.

The World Building
I loved the description of the homes and the ruins in this one! I absolutely adore old architecture, so the fact that our characters visited more than just one home over the course of the book, but also old castle just made my heart happy. I would just love to jump into this book and lounge about on a picnic while learning to sketch.

The Characters
One of the best part of this book was that you were subtly thrown into the mystery of who was trying to hurt Ben. With that being said we were introduced to a plethora of characters that could have had reason to hurt him. While I guessed it about half way, I still wasn’t entirely sure. I am not going to really discuss all the characters because I don’t want to give anything away. However, I could say I adore Imogene. It was so hard to read about her forcing herself to try to admire Earnest while watching her friend flirt with the man she was actually interested in. I loved that neither girl ended up being ridiculously catty about the men. They were both just sweet, tender hearted women.


The Soundtrack
Cat Power – I Found a Reason


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Profile Image for Sylvie .
600 reviews789 followers
June 21, 2020
2.75 out of 5 Stars!

So lately I've been craving a story similair to Olivia Twist (It has been almost three years since I read that book, but I remember loving it so much and the story comes to my mind every now and then) and this book seemed a teeny tiny bit similair to it, which was one of the reasons I added this to my tbr-pile also the cover is very pretty and also I've never read a Cindy Anstey book before and her blurbs always intrigued me, especially this one. Wow this is actually one helluva long sentence.

I can't say I got into this book with no expectations, because once upon a time thi book has been one of my most anticipated books of the year.

The book didn't start off well with me, I find it a tad dull to be honest. So I continued reading it but I still couldn't get into the story. A tiny part of me wanted to dnf this, but then I decided that would not be a good idea, hoping the book would get better, there was no hope. Eventually I read this as fast as I could because I was bored with it, and honestly I was disappointed.

I didn't dislike the book overall, I just found it a meh book. Nothing really interesting happened in the book, then we got a little bit of a mystery which wrapped up very quickly, and in my opinion the ending was a bit rushed?
Profile Image for Wing (bibliomeds).
161 reviews103 followers
December 7, 2018
love this one so much omg, such a lovely and engaging story with just the right amount of plot twists.
the main couple is so cute and ahhhhhhhh i'm a sucker for this stuff.
can't wait to read the next Cindy Anstey book!
Profile Image for Cathy.
1,143 reviews205 followers
April 20, 2018
In which a young lady finds her attention is drawn to her charming but rather serious suitor’s hotter younger brother.’

Apologies to Cindy Anstey for my rather poor attempt to emulate her humorous chapter headings that playfully evoke the era of Jane Austen. Some of my favourites include:
‘In which hands and fluff are subjects of a deep discussion.’
‘In which the words “dreadful” and “secret” are bandied about.’
‘In which a question about the question is questioned.’

Imogene (with curious ‘e’ on the end) finds herself in a quandary. She admires kind, charming, bookish Ernest, who lives up to his name in being serious and (whisper) at times perhaps a little dull. As she confides to her best friend, Emily, ‘I never feel my heart race when our eyes meet.’ However, she knows her mother and father would strongly approve if she was to accept an offer of marriage from Ernest.

Imogene finds herself more and more attracted to Ernest’s younger brother, Ben, a much more lively character, very easy on the eye and someone who shares Imogene’s interest in architecture and art, even if he’s no match for her on the sketching front. Ben’s need to improve his drawing skills in order to progress in his architecture apprenticeship provides the pretext for him and Imogene to spend time together for some one-to-one tuition.

Imogene forces herself to fight against the attraction, especially once it appears it may test the bonds of friendship. ‘Ernest had so many stellar qualities that Imogene had made a list of them...a list she repeated every time her traitorous thoughts veered toward Ben.’

Events take a darker turn when what start out as mischievous pranks progress to sabotage and acts that may endanger life or limb. Uncovering the culprit provides a gentle secondary story line to the brotherly rivalry for Imogene’s affections.

I really enjoyed Cindy Anstey’s previous novel, Duels & Deception, and in this book again she provides insights into the social proprieties of the time. For example, the contrast between ‘town manners’ and ‘country manners’, with the latter involving relatively more informality, much earlier hours of rising (except for those ladies who keep ‘town hours’ and rise late) and outdoor pursuits such as walks and picnics.

Suitors and Sabotage was a lovely light read with some nice little touches of humour. For example, I liked that the author has Emily remark, ’The wonderful aspect of books is that they wait for you...and are not in the least insulted if you deviated for a bit.’ How true! Also, I loved the little in-joke as Emily comments, ‘I’m not at ease with the idea that someone under this roof has some sort of sinister intent. That is something that happens only in novels, not in reality.’

A small issue I had, and this may be more down to formatting and because I was reading an ARC of the book, was that there were a few sudden changes of scene or location mid-chapter without any indication: no section breaks or bridging sentences. For example, in chapter six, one minute we’re with the young people on an excursion to an Abbey and the next paragraph we’re back at the house with everyone dressed for dinner. However, these are minor quibbles and didn’t affect my enjoyment of this entertaining, fun read.

I received an advance reader copy courtesy of NetGalley, publishers Swoon Reads and Giselle at Xpresso Book Tours in return for an honest and unbiased review.
Profile Image for mith.
721 reviews253 followers
March 20, 2018
hello friends, you can read this review on my blog as well!
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I am a bit unsure about Suitors and Sabotage. One the one hand, I did like the growing attraction between Ben and Imogene. On the other, it was really messy and complicated between the two.

This third novel by Anstey is probably the most worrying historical rom-com she’s written, or at least, that’s how it felt like to me. It’s almost like that one Shakespeare play! Imogene is gearing up for a potential engagement to Ernest, Benjamin’s brother. But Imogene is smitten with Benjamin, and vice versa. But, Imogene’s best friend, Emily, is completely head over heels for Benjamin. It’s… definitely complicated. A really strange love… square? of sorts.

I did like it though, because it’s not like Imogene was torn between the brothers. I liked her interactions with Ben, even though the both of them knew they shouldn’t be feeling the way they did for each other. Still, their company was just easy. Imogene wasn’t shy or awkward around him, like she was with his brother. She was able to talk to him easily about anything.

I really loved the brothers! They constantly joked around and teased each other without abandon and it was just the most endearing thing! It was clear that Ernest and Benjamin are super close and I’m so happy that Anstey wrote them to be friendly towards each other. I also liked Emily and Imogene’s relationship! They tell each other almost everything and it’s clear they’re very important to one another.

Overall, I thought this book was okay! Love, Lies, and Spies still holds the cake for my favourite Anstey novel, but it’s pretty clear that I’ll basically read anything she writes! 3.5 stars.
Profile Image for k .
292 reviews
August 10, 2021
Characters - 4
Plot - 3.5
Writing style - 4
Romance - 4

In which a shy eighteen-year-old girl fell in love with her intended's flirty younger brother.

Characters - I think they're okay. Sometimes hilarious and sometimes annoying.

And, dear Lord, I just can't see the whole female lead being shy. I mean, sure, she tends to refuse to look at people's eyes but that's where her so-called-shyness stops.

I love the heroine's best friend. Usually, she's the type of characters I easily get annoyed with but in this case, I'm totally fine with the gal.

And, is it wrong if I hope there's a brotherly love between the heroine and her older brother? Her brother doesn't give a shit, that am sure of.

Plot - now, when I first read the synopsis, I was totally intrigued but truth be told, I was kinda disappointed. Felt like I was reading a fanfiction of any Jane Austen's work.

Writing style - I have to say, I am impressed with the dialogues and some monologues. Fast-paced but kinda boring. Read it in one sitting.

Romance - the romance has so much potential. I love the first hundred pages of the novel but the rest, nah. The romance began to bore the hell out of me, it's not cute anymore.

Don't get me wrong, I love that the heroine ended up with him but throughout the book, I am torn between who among the two gentlemen should she choose.

I like the older brother because he's husband material. Safe but boring. Plus, he loooooooves reading books. Haha.

However, I also do like the younger brother because I don't know, there's just something about him that makes you want him. Maybe his monologues. He's fun but dangerous. Flirty af.
Profile Image for Karlita | Tale Out Loud.
109 reviews78 followers
April 16, 2019
Actual rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
"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!

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Profile Image for Biz.
222 reviews103 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
March 26, 2018
As a huge Jane Austen and Regency-era fan this book seemed right up my ally, but unfortunately I was just so incredibly….. bored and uninterested that I decided it just wasn’t worth it when I could be reading something I actually want to read, you know? You feel? You get me?

First off, the characters were kind of, like, boring. And flat. And two-dimensional. And I just didn’t really care about any of them. I want to be able to like my characters, or, at the very least, have them be interesting to read about, but everyone here was cookie cutter and boring and just so,,,,,, I don’t want to say too Regency because this is legit a Regency novel, but they were all characters I have read time and time again in every single Regency-era romance. I thought that this book would have something new in the character department and it just didn’t.

Second, the plot. Uhhhh idk if I should put spoiler warnings but honestly I only made it a quarter of the way through this one so I guess don’t read this paragraph if you don’t want spoilers for anything.

Okay, so here’s the deal. I feel weird calling a book I read only one-fourth of out for lack of diversity, but I mean, come on. After the popularity of The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue, I never again want to see a historical fiction novel with no diversity. There’s no excuse. POC and lgbt, disabled people have been around forever, and it annoys me when authors just decide to not include them.

And another thing – one of the secondary character’s names is “Matt,” and, you know, the name Matthew really wasn’t a popular name back in the 19th century. It was popular during the middle ages, and then came back into popularity, seemingly randomly, in 1960, but between those two times, it was rare to see someone named Matthew in a primarily English-speaking country. That kind of annoyed me and every time Matt was mentioned I was just sitting there like
description

I also thought that this book would be about Benjamin and Imogene falling in love, but it kind of wasn’t???? I got maybe, like, twenty pages in and Imogene is already full-fledged crushing on Benjamin and I was like where is the slow burn I wanted? Why does insta-love exist?? wtf????

So, honestly, I would probably skip this one. It wasn’t super good as a romance novel, or a historical fiction novel, or a historical romance novel. It took me like four days to get a quarter of the way through. Bleh.
Profile Image for D. B. Guin.
805 reviews69 followers
January 2, 2018
This book has such a nice cover and, as a fan of both Jane Austen and mysteries, I was hype to read Suitors and Sabotage. Reading the other reviews here has got me a little disquieted, because most of them are full of praise, and the one word I came away with to describe this book was "trash."

I thought it would be both a mystery, and a Regency social drama type romance. The mystery aspect is barely there at all -- mildly odd things happen occasionally, and no one even acknowledges that there's a mystery up until almost the last chapter, when it is also solved.

The romance aspect was... there? But it didn't make me care about any of the characters, or their romance, even a little. It's like a love triangle/quadrangle thing (ugh) between all four of the main characters, and three of them are POV characters, alternating every so often (ugh). It was hard to invest in any of the four mains, and outside of that the rest of the cast was one-dimensional. There was mutual pining, so I would have thought I could find at least one thing to like, but there just wasn't any tension outside of "I like this guy ok but I LOVE his brother what do I do" type tension, which is just pulpy and unpleasant.

Suitors and Sabotage disappointed me a lot, and I'm sad. It reminded me neither of Jane Austen nor of any good mystery, but rather of something to be read in desperate lack of other reading material and then immediately thrown away and forgotten.
Profile Image for Kassie.
394 reviews474 followers
April 15, 2018
I've come to realize that I really enjoy historical fiction whether it has magic or not.

Question that I don't have an answer to: was this story inspired by the play, The Importance of Being Ernest ????

We follow a story of a group of four - essentially a very messy love square while also realizing one of them may be in serious danger of getting hurt in a purposeful accident.

I LOVED all of the characters in this story. Cindy Anstey did an amazing job creating characters that made it hard to know how you wanted this very messy love square to end up. I loved every second of this story. Adding the setting of the 1800s added such an amazing, wistful experience with all the discussion of outfits and locations.
Profile Image for Alexandra.
1,832 reviews10 followers
April 19, 2018
I received an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. Review can be found on *Milky Way of Books*

I really enjoyed Suitors and Sabotage! There is a unique style in Cindy's books that reminds you strongly of Pride and Prejudice"! All the English form and attitude, the shy heroine who at the same time wants more for herself and even the small funny moments between the scenes.

The romance is sweet and adorable between Ben and Imogene! Like a teenage historical movie, you expect to happen and can't help but root for! If the fluffy, historical romance is your trope then the whole stand-alone books are here for you!
Profile Image for kaylaaaaaaaaaa kaylaaaaaaaaaa.
Author 1 book112 followers
July 2, 2018
This is described as Pride and Prejudice meets the romance of A Midsummers Night Dream... I had to pick it. I really liked this though like historical fiction really isn't my most read genre but I've been getting into so much more of it lately and loving it and this was not an exception.
Profile Image for Jes Drew.
Author 45 books435 followers
June 2, 2018
I can always count on Cindy Anstey for a nice, comfortable regency read that feels like it was written in Jane Austen's time. This one was no different, and Benjamin was so charming. Also, Imogene is so relateable as the shy artist who likes to teach. Their chemistry was undeniable, and made all the sweeter by Benjamin's special bond with his brother and Imogene's special bond with her best friend. This is a clean (at least, I don't remember many bad words) summer read as we follow three families and two suitors visiting each other throughout the summer. What a way to live! And what a sweet read.
Profile Image for starryeyedjen.
1,640 reviews1,231 followers
April 25, 2018
Another utterly delightful YA historical romance from Cindy Anstey! The romantic entanglements and the mysterious accidents befalling one of the suitors created for quite a web of intrigue. Cindy writes such charming characters and stories, with witty banter and English manners. Though I do wish there was a tad more kissing. :) I can't wait to read what she writes next! Her books always leave me feeling light-hearted and giddy.
Profile Image for Jenni Sauer.
Author 10 books59 followers
February 7, 2022
What a wonderful book 💕

After reading a good number of angsty (and kind of spicy) historical romances, it was so refreshing to get lost in this sweet YA romance that focused as much as friendship as it did on love

I adored all the characters, the main four (Imogen, Earnest, Ben, and Emily) so very much and it hurt so much to know there was no way for this to end with all of them happy. I loved how most of the tension came from them all caring so deeply about each other and not wanting anyone to get hurt. It's about young, innocent love, but Imogen and Ben are trying very hard to be mature about it and it's so sweet. I adore them

I was also surprised by the depth that ended up getting explored with Imogen's relationship with her parents. I'm always excited when I see authors unafraid to address complicated or unhealthy relationships and appreciated she didn't try to smooth everything over or make excuses. It was very well handled

All in all, it was such sweet, enchanting book. I can't wait to read more by this author 💕
Profile Image for Faye*.
315 reviews94 followers
October 15, 2019
3.5 stars

Honestly, the main reason I listened to this book was the narrator, Fiona Hardingham. I was trying to get back into audio books and since I really enjoy her voice and narration, I thought I'd give this a try and, very fortunately, it did not disappoint.

It's definitely a very light and sweet historical fiction YA novel that's also great on audio. Not really something that I will think about extensively, but still a lovely read.
Profile Image for ✦ Maica ✦.
312 reviews161 followers
May 14, 2018
I really enjoyed this one. Imogene was a very loveable character. She was sweet, strong willed and intelligent. I loved how she respected Emily and Ernest so much to the point that she was smothering her feelings towards Ben. And seeing Ben doing the same thing was very amendable. He loved Imogene but he also loved his brother. And he was willing to give her up if it meant that his brother would be happy. The characters were solid. They made choices that were realistic and compassionable. The writing was very beautiful. It painted the scene and the era well. I could feel myself being sent to this timeline. The mystery as to who would want to harm Ben was also an intriguing plot line.

Overall, I love a good historical fiction romance novel. The Victorian era is a time period that I really enjoy reading about. The petticoats and the Victorian men never fail to dazzle me. You can almost never go wrong with it. Thankfully, most of Cindy Anstey's published works are historical fiction. I guess it's time to binge read her books. Crossing my fingers for a sequel.
Profile Image for Kat ❅.
829 reviews69 followers
July 8, 2022
Two stars feels harsh but I can’t say I enjoyed my time reading this.

I think the main issue was mismatched expectations. With the a title like “Suitors and Sabotage” I was expecting a sort of “falling in love while solving a crime” type book and that’s not really what happened. There is a mystery element but it is so not the main focus and the characters are entirely passive when it comes to solving the mystery. I cannot overstate how unimportant and underwhelming the reveal at the end was. There’s no actual detective work or investigating. Bad things just keep happening to them until the bad guy reveals themselves. Very underwhelming.

The romance was more present but still felt underdeveloped to me. There were some good scenes of the the characters together but I didn’t really see the relationship development. Everything about this book felt so passive. Characters rarely take decisive actions and that made the story hard to enjoy.

I’ve had this book for years and I’ve definitely aged out of the target audience. That being said, I don’t think I would have enjoyed this if I had read it when I first got it. The writing and plotting just really didn’t work for me unfortunately.
Profile Image for Kate.
867 reviews126 followers
December 10, 2019
A sweet and light-hearted Regency romance with a dash of mystery. The ensemble cast were excellent and really helped provide socially awkward situations and tension. The mystery was incredibly light and was not the sole drive of the plot or character interactions.
Profile Image for Sara (A Gingerly Review).
2,672 reviews154 followers
June 14, 2018
Y'all. This was a full on struggle bus of a story. I was bored. There was no character development, bad pacing, and I have yet to figure out what the actual plot was aside from girls BEGGING boys to marry them. If you want me to believe this was supposed to be a type of mystery then you need to sell that somewhere else because I'm not buying. You want me to sit and wonder who would "pull pranks" like putting a burr under a horse saddle or moving the dog? PFFFT. I have less than no cares when it comes to that.

FRTC

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Full review can be found here: https://agingerlyreview.wordpress.com...

I have been hesitant to write my review for this because I do not fancy writing less than stellar reviews. The struggle was real with this book and I’ll explain why.

I did not read any other reviews before borrowing this book, I went into with fresh eyes and that was the best way to go. I won’t write a short recap because I cannot be absolutely sure what this story was about. I think I have an idea and I’ll be slightly upset if that was it because it was lame. I can tell you that I found this story dull, lifeless, and drawn out far too much. There is supposed to be a mystery within the story but I felt that was hidden beneath the story of two girls trying desperately to catch the eye of boys so they can be married. The story does take place in a date in time where females were to be proper and well mannered, never showing ankle or looking too long at a male for fear of being considered a tramp. You get the idea. That is what a majority of the story was – two girls giggling and talking about ways to catch a boy’s eye. Boring.

I did mention there was some story of mystery but it was weak and spread incredibly thin. An item, such as a necklace, was moved or the dog was found tied up in the barn. There was never anything harmful done to anyone nor were there notes. So what was the point? Odd things that happened were always brushed off so there was no sense of urgency. Why include that story line if you aren’t going to expand upon it?

Don’t get me started on the romance. Alright, I’ve started myself on the topic. It was just .. awkward. There couldn’t be just an attraction between a boy and a girl, NOPE. There had to be a love triangle or quadrangle, perhaps? It was complicated for the sake of being complicated. It did not add to the story, it made it worse. I didn’t care who chose whom. I had no dog in that fight.

I walked away from this story deeply disappointed. I normally really like period stories like this, but this needed revision. There was no developed plot, weak characters, and just too much crammed into one story. This novel didn’t know what it wanted to be when it grew up and that was sad. It had potential. I couldn’t wait to be done with this book so I skimmed – quickly.
Profile Image for Samantha (WLABB).
3,327 reviews231 followers
May 21, 2018
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Last year, I read my first Cindy Anstey book, Duels and Deception. I found it so delightful, and can honestly say, that history repeated itself here with Suitors and Sabotage.

•Pro: Imogene played the part of the a lady, but she had dreams of doing her own thing and being more than just a wife and lady of the manor. Her passion and her conviction were fabulous, and I love that Anstey always gives us a somewhat feminist heroine in all her books.

•Pro: Ben was so charming, and I adored the way he subtly adored Imogene. For a man of that time, he showed a great support for her talent and dreams as well.

•Pro: Anstey always mixes romances with a little suspense, and I am a fan of this blend.

•Con: I understand the "sabotage" events were important, but I would have like more of the romance and less of the "sabotage".

•Pro: Emily and Imogene shared a wonderful friendship, to the point that Imogene was considered part of Emily's family and they were a huge source of love and support for her, which was missing in her own home.

•Pro: Anstey knows how to do this time period, and I don't know what it is, but I always find reading books set in the Regency time period so delightful. The propriety of the era makes every touch and glance that much more meaningful.

Overall: A charming period romance, with a hero and heroine, who won my heart, and a romance, which left me with a light heart.

**ARC provided in exchange for an honest review.

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Profile Image for Alisha.
942 reviews60 followers
May 20, 2018
This was a cute romantic comedy set in...Regency times, I think?
Imogene and her family are set to entertain a young man who is visiting as an avowed suitor for her hand. However, his younger brother Ben is the one who really catches Imogene's interest. Both of them spend the length of the novel trying to do the "right" thing in denying their feelings for each other, but, of course, things are going to get satisfactorily resolved. I liked that Imogene and Ben bond over art and architecture.

There is a "mystery" thrown in that is not really all that intriguing due to a lack of suspects. It is fairly simple to figure out who is at the bottom of the sabotage.

Aside from a few quibbles over manners and vocabulary (just because I'm me, and I'm picky over historical fiction), this was an enjoyable, light read.
Profile Image for Candyce Kirk.
1,155 reviews31 followers
April 17, 2018
This was a cute book. If you aren't a fan of love triangles, this isn't a book for you, haha. I have to say I didn't mind it in this book. The mystery element was nice as well.

I am part of the blog tour and my full review can be read here: https://thebookdutchesses.wordpress.c...
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