Friday, April 20, 2018

ARC #Review - Suitors and Sabotage by Cindy Anstey #YALit #Historical Fiction

Series: Standalone
Format: E-Book, 336 pages
Release Date: April 17, 2018
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult  / Romance / Historical

Two young people must hide their true feelings for each other while figuring out who means them harm in this YA Regency romance from the author of Love, Lies and Spies and Duels & Deception.

Shy aspiring artist Imogene feels conflicted about marrying the young man her father has chosen for her, but she is willing to at least give him a chance for her family's sake. That is, until she meets Ben, a charming architect's apprentice . . . and her suitor's younger brother.

Unbeknownst to Imogene, Ben feels the same way about her, but he can never let his true feelings be known without betraying his brother. So he resigns himself to merely a friendship with her, enlisting her to teach him how to draw.

But hiding their true feelings for each other becomes the least of their problems when, after a series of unfortunate "accidents," it becomes apparent that someone means Ben serious harm. And as their affection for each other grows, so does the danger . . .

Author Cindy Ansley's Suitors and Sabotage is a story that is set in the early 19th Century England. The story revolves around four main characters: Imogene Chively, Emily Beeswanger, Ernest Steeple, and Benjamin Steeple. Imogene is a character who is an aspiring artist who just had a successful season in London. Imogene is expected to accept Ernest's offer of marriage whenever the young man proposes, as he is her only suitor.

In this reality, only a firstborn with a sizable income is suitable for Imogene. At least according to her father. She is also on the shy side unlike her best friend Emily. The problem is that Benjamin Steeple arrives before Ernest, and catches Imogene's imagination. Ben is the more daring, the more interesting, the more forward, and the one who peaks her interest with his wit and humor. He also seems to be a trouble magnet. For some reason or the other, someone appears to want to make Ben's life a living hell. 

While Ernest is the eldest and is expected to retain the families reputation, it is Benjamin who is an apprentice to a renowned Architect. The problem is that he can't draw to save his life. Imogene's forte is architectural details and teaching others how to draw. Learning of Ben's ineptitude towards drawing, Imogene offers to help Ben learn to draw. Now comes the twist. Imogene and Emily are best friends and sisters of the heart.

But, Emily apparently fancies Ben, which creates an internal conflict in Imogene. This is the case of best friends not telling each other how they feel. While Imogene's undeniable feelings for Ben continue to grow, you do feel a sense of isolation as Imogene essentially loses her only confidante. There is always a tricky element when you have two men and one woman involved in a story. Love triangle? Not necessarily. There really wasn't any romantic interest on Imogene's part towards Ernest. More as a friend to friend relationship. 

It's a twisted sort of story where the author takes the readers to various houses that seem to be a summer tradition. There is Fotheringham, Shackleford Park, Chotsdown & Dowersham all apparently in Kent, England. It also has a curious mystery that is played out against the backdrop of everything else that is happening to Imogene, Emily, Ben, and Ernest. A mystery that was rather sad when you really think about it. This book is filled with obvious tension between the characters. I am kind of sad at how the story resolves itself. Not sad that the ending didn't make sense. Sad that the author left things kind of unbalanced in regards to her characters. 

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