Two young people must hide their true feelings for each other while figuring out who means them harm in this cheeky YA 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 growsdespite their efforts to remain just friendsso 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.
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
|Publisher:||Feiwel & Friends|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.30(d)|
|Age Range:||13 - 18 Years|
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In which Miss Imogene Chively prays for a sudden rainstorm or a stampede of goats
GRACEBRIDGE MANOR, FOTHERINGHAM, KENT —
EARLY JULY 181
"Jasper!" Imogene Chively shouted as she jumped to her feet, flinging her sketch into the grass. "Don't move! Stay. Stay exactly where you are!" Grabbing her skirts ankle-height with one hand and desperately waving the other, she raced across the courtyard of the old castle. "Emily, help!" she shouted over her shoulder without a backward glance.
She couldn't look away; Imogene's eyes were glued to those of Jasper. If she looked away, he might try to leap off the crumbling wall. And he couldn't. ... Shouldn't. It was too high. There was no doubt of an injury — a broken leg or, worse yet, a snapped neck or a blow to the head. "Stay," she said again but in a softer, crooning tone, almost a prayer.
Having reached the wall, Imogene found Jasper two feet above her reach — even on tip-tip toes. He stared down at her, pleased with all the attention, tail wagging, tongue lolling.
"Oh, Jasper," Emily Beeswanger said behind her. "You silly dog, what have you done now?" Emily, Imogene's fast friend for all their eighteen years, was well versed in Jasper's antics.
The St. John's water dog continued to wag.
"Can you keep him from jumping, Emily? Yes, hold your hands up like a barrier. Exactly. I will go around behind him."
"You can't climb the wall, Imogene. It's too fragile. It will fall down, taking you with it."
"Yes, I know. But I need to get higher. I have to encourage him to back up — he doesn't have room to turn," she said, looking up at the narrow ledge of the ruins. Frowning, she glanced across the courtyard to where they had lain a coverlet on the grass beside the moat. "Or," she said, her eyes settling on the basket atop the blanket. "I have a better idea; I know what always encourages obedience."
"Food," Emily said knowingly.
"Indeed." Imogene turned and sauntered back across the cobblestone. She would have preferred to run, but doing so would have fueled Jasper's excitable nature and encouraged him to leap over Emily's outstretched arms to join her. She had just reached into the basket when a nearby voice startled her. Spinning around, Imogene locked eyes with a young gentleman standing on the arch of the moat bridge.
Imogene gasped in dismay. Ernest Steeple? Surely not. Her suitor was not due until the next day.
"Can I help?" he asked again when Imogene did not answer.
Gulping, Imogene tried to calm her panicked thoughts. She could feel the burn of embarrassment flaring up her cheeks as soon as she realized that the stranger was not Ernest but Benjamin Steeple, her suitor's younger brother.
Suddenly the air was filled with a cacophony of barking, whining, and yipping. Imogene turned to see Jasper's body undulating in serpentine waves as his excitement grew to a fevered pitch. He was staring at the new arrival.
"No!" Imogene shouted as the dog crouched. "Stay!"
Even as she called out, Mr. Steeple moved. In a flash, he was across the courtyard and almost to the wall when Jasper launched himself into the air. Emily jumped up to catch him, but Jasper sailed over her head with ease.
Imogene screamed as time slowed to a crawl. Jasper seemed to fall forever, but in those seconds, Mr. Steeple must have known he would not reach the dog. He flung himself under the dog's path in a spectacular sprawl, sliding across the ground on his back. The dog landed with a heavy thump on the poor gentleman's gut, eliciting a sharp gasp as they tumbled together. The tangled mess of dog and man finally came to a rest at the base of the wall.
Naturally, Jasper was the first on his feet. Bouncing with excitement, showing no injury or awareness of his peril, the dog licked Mr. Steeple's face with abandon. The poor gentleman tried to fend off the affection to no avail; he finally succumbed to the wash and laughed as he struggled to his feet.
Imogene wanted to ask if he was hurt, but her tongue would not cooperate.
"Are you all right?" Emily asked in an easy manner that Imogene wished she could emulate.
"Oh yes, indeed. Just a little dirt here and there," he said as he swiped pointlessly at the ingrained dirt on the elbows of his well-cut coat. "Nothing that can't be fixed."
"That was quite impressive. I'm certain Jasper would have done himself an injury had you not caught him."
Mr. Steeple laughed again. "I'm not certain I would call that a catch."
"It was impressive nonetheless." Emily smiled up at him as he smiled down.
It was a charming tableau: Emily, with her pretty, round face framed by cascades of brown curls peeking out from her bonnet, staring up at the handsome visage of Benjamin Steeple, with the old castle ruins behind them. The smell of flora wafted through the air while cattle lowed in the nearby fields. Yes, indeed, a lovely tableau.
Imogene huffed a sigh. This was dreadful.
Mr. Benjamin's presence had only one possible meaning — disaster was about to befall them. Mr. Ernest Steeple had arrived early. There would be no meandering through the estate, sketching and chatting with Emily about their London Season. No relaxing at the old castle, chasing butterflies or picking wildflowers today. Guests were about to descend upon Gracebridge Manor en masse.
Imogene sighed again. It was a long-suffering sigh, not that of eager anticipation.
Benjamin Steeple bent to accept Jasper's continued attention. It was the respite Imogene needed, and it gave her time to take a few deep breaths, release the tension in her shoulders, and lift her cheeks into the semblance of a smile. As the mutual enthusiasm continued for some minutes, Imogene had an opportunity to observe Mr. Benjamin without reserve.
They had met once before, at a soiree in Mayfair. Though her glance of Ernest's younger brother had been for a short duration — and she had spent the entire length of the conversation staring at his shoes — she had seen the likeness immediately.
There was no doubting that Ernest and Benjamin were brothers, and being so close in age, at twenty and nineteen, it would be difficult for anyone without the knowledge to say who was the elder.
Similar in build, the Steeple boys were tall, loose-limbed, and broad-shouldered. They both had dark brown hair, but Ernest wore his longer, brushed back from a widow's peak. Ernest's face was slightly broader; Benjamin's chin was slightly sharper. And while Ernest had an open smile, Benjamin's smile was wider, getting wider and wider — as Imogene continued to examine his face without speaking.
Oh Lud! She was staring.
Imogene gulped in discomfort and prayed for some sort of distraction — anything: a sudden rainstorm, a stampede of goats ... or a fast friend coming to the rescue.
"It is a pleasure to see you again, Mr. Steeple, and a lovely surprise."
Imogene's eyes grew wide — horror of horrors, was Emily going to tell him that they had not been expected until the next day? While true, it might cause him embarrassment. Imogene cringed with the thought of mortifying poor Mr. Benjamin. What should she say? How could she prevent this travesty?
However, instead of flushing and looking uncomfortable, Benjamin Steeple executed a well-practiced bow. "Yes, we are a day early, aren't we? Ernest would not be stopped; he could think of nothing else but to see this part of the country." He did not turn to look at Imogene, but his eyes flicked in her direction and then quickly back to Emily. "I apologize for the interruption. I did not know that you were here."
"That is disappointing, Mr. Steeple. I thought it was our company that brought you to the ruin — that you sought us out."
"Had I known, had Ernest known, we would have been here an hour ago, but alas it was indeed the call of these old stones that sent me down the hill." He gestured toward Gracebridge, the large sandstone manor visible behind Imogene, and then turned, making a show of looking at the ruin's tower and south wing, where the sun glinted off the many panes of the mullioned windows. It was the only part of the castle still intact. The adjacent great hall and the floor that had been over it were gone; three arched doorways, and above them six glassless windows, led into the roofless shell, where all but the staircase had suffered from the ravages of time.
"And what do you think, Mr. Steeple? Does the castle live up to your expectations?" Emily turned toward the old hall. Imogene knew her interest to be a pretense. The building had lost its allure to her friend when Emily had learned that there were no ghosts or ghouls within its crumbling walls.
Mr. Benjamin took a deep breath, almost a sigh. "Indeed, yes, indeed. Wasn't really a castle, though, was it? Not any longer. More of a fortified manor. Elizabethan?" Still staring up at the tower, he turned his body, stepped forward, and almost collided with Imogene. "Oh, I do beg your pardon."
He glanced down, arms outstretched, preparing to catch her should she take a tumble. With effort and relief, Imogene retained her balance. She nodded her appreciation.
Mr. Benjamin shrugged with well-executed nonchalance, then offered Emily one arm, Imogene the other. "Shall I escort you back to your piazza?" he asked, using his head to indicate the blanket by the moat.
Emily grinned, accepting with alacrity. Imogene, however, was loath to put her arm in the crook of his elbow. ... But it would be the height of bad manners to ignore the gentlemanly gesture. She timidly lifted her arm.
The young gentleman hooked her hand and with little fuss tucked it in place as if he took the arm of young ladies every day — which she supposed he did, being that he had been in London for the Season. Oh dear, and now he was walking. Imogene tried to match his pace, saw him look over with a friendly smile, and then, suddenly, their gait was in harmony. The awkwardness of their promenade disappeared, and Imogene sighed in relief — and then worried that he had heard it.
But if he had, Benjamin Steeple showed no sign and merely led them to the blanket by the moat. Jasper trotted happily in their wake. He assisted Emily as she gracefully reclined beside the basket.
"Yes, I believe the old Norman castle was rebuilt in the Elizabethan era." Emily returned to the question at hand, glancing toward Imogene for a sign.
Imogene nodded, and Emily smiled. "Yes, Elizabethan." It was a brilliant smile, well executed: spontaneous, friendly, and slightly sassy.
Imogene thought Emily had pulled it off with great aplomb, but when she looked to see how it was received, she noted that Mr. Benjamin was not looking in Emily's direction. He was still studying the ruin.
With a shake of his head, Mr. Benjamin turned to face them. Silence reigned for eons — perhaps a moment or two — and then Emily and Benjamin Steeple began to speak at the same time.
Laughing at their folly, Emily indicated that Mr. Benjamin should go ahead.
"I apologize again for disturbing you. I will leave you to your ..." He glanced at the basket. "To your alfresco meal."
"Oh no, Mr. Steeple, don't go. There is no need." Emily sounded amused. "It is just a spot of tea ... without the tea, to see us through until dinner. We have plenty to spare if you would care to join us."
Mr. Benjamin's brow folded for the merest second, and then he nodded. "Thank you. So very kind; however, before I do, I might take a wander around this fine building." He looked over his shoulder almost wistfully.
"Of course." Imogene surprised Emily by answering before her. Imogene wanted to say more, though — warn him about the decay and less-than-sturdy walls. And it would seem that Emily had forgotten about the danger, for her friend silently gestured toward the castle with a bright smile.
Taking full advantage of the offer, Benjamin Steeple swiveled and quickly crossed the old cobbled courtyard to the crumbling great hall.
"Emily," Imogene whispered, "warn him — about the hazards."
With a jerk of realization, Emily called, "Stop, Mr. Steeple, please. The floor is weak in the center and the wall rickety. Best go round the other way. Yes, there is a path that goes around the back. ..." Emily snorted a laugh and dropped her voice. "Well, I guess he found it." Benjamin Steeple had disappeared around the corner of the south wing with a casual wave, Jasper scurrying after him. "Methinks the gentleman likes your ... ruins."
"Not everyone can say that." Imogene grinned as they turned back to the coverlet. She sat on her side with proper decorum and then pulled the basket close. "Help me spread this out, Emily. We can make a pretty display of it. As usual, Cook has been generous."
Spreading out the savory tarts, fruit, and sweet squares, Imogene sighed at the loss of their solitude. While it was clear that Mr. Benjamin had not intended to intrude, he had done just that. Manners dictated their behavior from here; he would stay long enough to nibble on the light repast, discuss the weather or the beauty of the countryside, and then he would be off.
With another deep sigh, Imogene realized that her sense of disappointment was not for her lost sketching time, but the loss of a suitor-free day. Ernest Steeple was now waiting up at the house, and she would have to be enchanting and engaging, as dictated by her mother. How was she meant to achieve such lofty traits without ... the proper disposition?
"It will be fine," Emily said as if understanding the source of Imogene's discomfort.
Imogene shrugged, but it didn't look as nonchalant as she had wished.
"You'll have to practice that," Emily offered.
"I'll have to practice a great many things." Imogene sighed, yet again, wishing that her feeling of dread would go away.
"Try not to think on it overly. You'll only end up tying yourself in knots. Just remember, Ernest Steeple would not be visiting if you had not made an impression. Your most awkward moments are over."
"I wish that were true. Just as I wish Father had not invited him to spend a seven-night with us. We don't really know each other — a mere three or four conversations does not indicate a lifelong attachment — Pardon?"
"I think that's the point, Imogene. Your father invited Mr. Ernest so that you could get to know each other. I wish the idea didn't make you so uncomfortable."
"I'll be tongue-tied or say all the wrong things."
"Well, then focus on art — a topic so close to your heart you'll forget to be shy."
"Yes, but that was how I survived our first four encounters. I can hardly continue in the same vein."
"Bat your bright blue eyes, then talk of the weather."
Imogene smiled and shook her head. "Yes, that will win his heart for certain."
"Do you want his heart?" Emily suddenly looked serious.
Imogene didn't answer immediately. She mulled over the effects of Ernest's proximity, and though she quite liked him, she thought that her quickening heart might not indicate attraction, but fear. But was it fear of losing Ernest's good opinion or fear of disappointing her parents?
"I don't know," Imogene said finally.
"Well, whatever you decide, your dearest mama cannot complain. Mr. Ernest Steeple is an excellent prospect. Your Season was not a failure as was mine; I did not take as you have so clearly done."
Imogene laughed at the absurdity. "You were the belle of many a ball and were not looking for any offer, but the right offer. Mrs. Beeswanger seems quite enamored with the idea of giving you a second Season. My mother ... well, she wants me settled and away with no more wasted expense." She uttered the hurtful words as if they were of no consequence, but Emily knew better.
"They are so very different. Really, I don't know how our mothers have remained fast friends all these years; they rarely agree."
"Cousin Clara," Imogene said, nodding without looking up from her paper. Clara Tabard was not only a cousin of Imogene's mother but also a great friend of Diane Beeswanger, Emily's mother. At least, she used to be. A disease of the lungs had carried Cousin Clara away the previous autumn. "She kept the peace. It will be a strange summer without her."
By the time the tealess tea was spread out, the strawberries moved closer to the peaches and then shifted nearer the apricot squares ... and then back again, the tarts moved in line with the fruit ... and then back again, Imogene began to wonder why Mr. Benjamin was taking so long to return. She looked over her shoulder. "Where do you think he has gone? The old castle is not that big."
"Do you want me to go look?" Emily appeared eager.
"Yes, absolutely. After all, he might be lost on this tiny spit of land that has only one way on or off."
Excerpted from "Suitors and Sabotage"
Copyright © 2018 Cynthia Ann Anstey.
Excerpted by permission of Feiwel and Friends.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I absolutely loved this adorable period drama. It was charming and sweet, but also had a bit of a mystery going on in it. I had guessed who the saboteur was about halfway through, but Anstey sprinkled some seeds of doubt across the remaining pages and I wasn't 100% sure of my choice up to the reveal. I lived for the descriptions of the clothes and accessories. Those are really my favorite parts of period dramas. This was a fun romance, following a girl learning to accept who she is and not force herself into others' expectations. I loved the character development and watching Imogene became a strong, independent lady. She wasn't afraid to go after what she wanted at the end, no matter the consequences. The pace was fast and the plot was interesting. There was more to this book than which brother she would choose, if either of them. There's amazing character development, strong friendships, and aspects of found family. There's a lot more to this fun romance than is in the synopsis and I loved that it had more depth than I was expecting. Plus, the swoonworthy romance sure helped. I definitely recommend this one and I look forward to picking up Duels and Deception, which I bought awhile ago. *Thanks to Netgalley for this review copy*
***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. Read the rest of my review on my blog, The Eater of Books! - eaterofbooks DOT blogspot DOT com :)
Suitors and Sabotage is an immensely pleasurable Regency period romp following young Imogene Chively through the trials and tribulations of being wooed by a respectable and kind suitor while inadvertently falling in love with his brother and working to solve the mystery of who among their party may be intending to cause them great harm. Cindy Antsey’s stories are beautifully written, with fun and flowery language befitting a period novel. Her characters vividly bring to life the etiquette and wit of a way of life from a popularly romanticized period, setting scenes of both great fun and drama, exploring romantic conflict and flirtation at the height of propriety, including exciting moments involving heated looks that elicit more goosebumps than a typical love scene in modern romance novels. Her novels carry the appeal and enjoyment of both a period drama and a modern romance with a writing style which beautifully blends the language and ideals of the old and the new. I have greatly enjoyed all of Cindy Antsey’s novels as well as all Swoonworthy books I have been fortunate enough to read thus far and I eagerly await my next read by this publisher and by this author. I highly recommend all of Cindy Antsey’s books and if you too enjoy her novels, I recommend the These Viscous Masks series by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas (also a Swoonworthy read) and The Beautiful One’s by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (published by Thomas Dunne Books), both of which add a heavy dose of fantasy and magic to this pleasurable period.
Imogene’s father has strongly suggested she get acquainted with Mr. Ernest Steeple, as he finds the young man perfect for her. However, as the week unfolds, Imogene finds herself more drawn to Ernest’s brother, Benjamin. Things are complicated further when it becomes apparent that someone means to harm Benjamin. Fans of light romantic tension will relish Antsey’s story. Teens who enjoy the drama of the first romantic encounter and mistaken romantic intentions within a historical back drop will rejoice. Readers will cherish their ability to make their own decisions as Imogene is locked within the expectations and inherent acceptance of the behaviors of young ladies and gentlemen of polite society. You realize that helicopter parenting is not something new and teens will identify with Imogene’s struggles. I wish to thank #netgalley and the publisher for generously providing an Advanced Readers Copy for my honest review.
Not what I was expecting 3.5 stars Thank you to Xpressobooktours, the publisher and NetGalley for an e-arc in exchange for my honest review Imogen is a young woman whose parents can't wait for her to get married and continue on with the family name. Having said that though they got about it in a very strange way at times, and aren't supportive at all of what Imogen wants. In fact, they are determined for her to marry a young man named Ernest who they think will be perfect for each other. Imogene, on the other hand, could care less. But now she has to court him, and hopefully marry him. The only way she can make it through all of this is with some help of her best friend and her favorite hobby. Overall this book was okay/enjoyable at times for me. It sadly fell a little flat for me. I thought it was going to be YA historical fiction mystery. Instead, it was more focused on the romance part, and less on the mystery sadly. This was fully my fault for expecting certain things about this book. Having said that I did like the friendship between Imogen and Emily. They don't have a lot of things in common when it comes to hobbies, but Emily and her family are very supportive of what Imogene wants to do and I loved that. Emily's family was the best and I loved them so much. As for Ben and Ernest his brother, I was so afraid this was going to go into a really awkward love triangle and it almost did, but thankfully certain things happened that stopped that. I loved the banter between the two brothers, and how they were both very different, and not competitive! Even with this book not being what I expected it was so close to being a four-star book. It could have been as well if more of the mystery had been talked about. I did figure out who was doing it as well before the end and while I got why it was just kind of meh. Also please tell me Emily's getting her own novel, because I would love to learn more about her!
Suitors and Sabotage is fun and flirtatious. It’s an endearing and cheeky story set in the regency period. For lovers of historical fiction romances, this one is for you. I thought this one was really cute. It had an elegant writing style and was very engaging. It reminded me of reading Pride and Prejudice. As a historical fiction, in one of my favorite time periods, it was very atmospheric and really captured my heart. It had all the fun and frivolity of what I enjoy reading in “high society”. There was the overbearing family, pressing courting and marriage, there were the “proper” ladies worrying about fashion and propriety, and there were the dashing, chivalrous men, out to capture a lady’s heart. Though the story could have used a little more excitement, it was sweet, just like the romance. The romance was a little on the “insta-love” side, but still took a little time to develop and was adorable. It was definitely predictable, and obviously ended happily, but it sweetly fit in the time period. It reminded me a little of Alex & Eliza. I do wish I had connected with the characters a little more. They were interesting to read, and very enjoyable, but I didn’t get invested in their lives. I was happy for the ending, but was never too worried about the outcome. The plot itself was a little slow. It definitely had some unpredictable moments, and the “villain” reveal was a surprise, but it wasn’t as exciting as I had hoped. This isn’t to say it was bad, because it was still very pleasant to read, it just wasn’t as exciting as I thought it would be. I would still recommend this one to anyone who enjoys sweet romances, historical fiction, and the regency period. 3.5 stars! Thank you Xpresso book tours for providing me with this free e-ARC in exchange for my honest review, and as part of the blog tour.
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**