Thursday, December 21, 2023

Library Read... Carols and Chaos by Cindy Anstey

With all of the Christmas chaos nearing its peak, there's nothing more relaxing than sitting down in front of the fireplace, cuddling up in a fuzzy blanket, enjoying the lights on the Christmas tree, and diving into a warming read. I'm hoping this one carries a bit of humor and tension, and doesn't only stick to romance...okay, I want tons of humor and tension. But I'll take a few snowflakes and jingle bells, too. Best of all, this is one I picked up at the local library. So, it let me step back from the hectic of shopping for a while as well.

Suitors and Sabotage #2
by Cindy Anstey
Swoon Reads
YA Historical Romance
329 pages

A lady's maid and a valet become entangled in a yuletide counterfeiting scheme in this romantic Christmas YA adventure.

1817. The happy chaos of the Yuletide season has descended upon the country estate of Shackleford Park in full force, but lady's maid Kate Darby barely has the time to notice. Between her household duties, caring for her ailing mother, and saving up money to someday own a dress shop, her hands are quite full. Matt Harlow is also rather busy. He's performing double-duty, acting as valet for both of the Steeple brothers, two of the estate's holiday guests.

Falling in love would be a disaster for either of them. But staving off their feelings for each other becomes the least of their problems when a devious counterfeiting scheme reaches the gates of Shackleford Park, and Kate and Matt are unwittingly swept up in the intrigue.

Find this one at your local library
(or you can order through your favorite sites, too)


Life between elites as a maid during the 1817 comes to life with Christmas cheer, romance, and intrigue too.

Kate Darby's life is more than a-bustle as she does her best to care for her sick mother, while trying to save up enough to open her own dress shop by working as a maid. Of course, the Holidays add more than a little stress to the mix. As if that wasn't enough, a familiar face slides into the mix. Matt Harlow isn't only attractive but has his sights on Miss Darby...not that he doesn't have enough to do as a valet for two brothers at the same time. The last thing they need is to let their feelings get involved, but even romantic sparks are not nearly as dangerous as a new threat happens upon the estate. A counterfeiting scheme is something both want to steer very clear of, but somehow, they get wound up in it anyway.

I have not read the first book in the series, but that didn't prove to be a problem. This novel dives head-first into the past and lets 1817 come to life. Kate Darby immediately grabs sympathy with her determination, kind heart, and juggle to not step on anyone's toes in the process. The predicaments she finds herself in offer tension, while weaving in a bit of humor, too. She has a lot on her plate, and it makes her endearing. But then, Marr Harlow packs tons of personality and is hard not to like.

The attitudes, habits, ideals, and dreams of the time period come across nicely and understandably. The details and scenes hold historical richness, and it's hard not to get lost in the world. There is enough excitement to make it interesting and there are more than a few unexpected moments. There were times that it flowed a bit slower than I prefer, but that's more due to my short attention span. The characters carry depth, the intrigue is well presented, and there are more than a few moments to bring smiles and chuckles. Even the romance wins over without being cliche or too predicable. 

This is a fun read for historic romance fans, who enjoy well woven tales and depth.

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