Carols and Chaos is a young adult historical fiction novel written by Cindy Anstey. I was very excited about the opportunity to read this book because I have enjoyed her three previous books.
Carols and Chaos serves as a companion to Suitors and Sabotage, but each of the two books offers a very different perspective. Both books are set during the Regency era and both have young adults as their protagonists, but Suitors features members of the gentility whereas the two protagonists in Carols are servants. Upper servants, yes, but servants nonetheless.
Kate Darby has established herself as a lady’s maid. This is not to be a permanent occupation- Kate intends to open up her own dress shop one day when she has saved up enough money. The young ladies she assists are amiable, but her job is not always easy because her mother (who lives nearby) asks for help and doesn’t understand that Kate’s focus needs to be on her duties at the manor house. Kate also does not need to be distracted by the handsome Matt Harlow, who serves as valet to the Steeple brothers, who have come to stay at the house for the Yuletide season.
It’s clear that Kate and Matt share a connection, but it’s highly inappropriate for them to engage in any sort of romance; even flirtation is considered unseemly. A twist of fate throws Kate and Matt together when a footman goes missing. As a local, Kate can offer assistance to Matt; the locals aren’t used to questions from strangers.
Christmas is quickly approaching, and it seems that the missing footman is only one of several strange happenings. Kate and Matt might find themselves dealing with something Much Bigger than they expected.
This was a fun book. I like that the narrative featured protagonists with more humble origins. I absolutely love reading about the aristocracy/gentility, but it is always a delight to receive a fresh perspective. After all, there were many more servants toiling away in manor houses than there were titled gentleman. It was interesting to see Kate and Matt having to balance their work duties with their sleuthing. The mystery aspect was quite satisfying, and I had no idea what was going to happen next- or if they would ever find the missing footman.
I would absolutely recommend Carols and Chaos. The Christmas setting made the story even more delightful. This is a very sweet book- while there is a romance, the focus is on furthering an acquaintanceship, and are duo does not do anything more scandalous than kiss- making this story appropriate for readers of all ages. Fans of Anstey’s other books will appreciate the glimpses of Imogene and Ben from Suitors and Sabotage, although they are gracious enough to remain in the background so that Kate and Matt can have their story told. As I’ve mentioned, readers don’t have to read Suitors before this one, but it’s just as fun of a book. I am looking forward to reading more from Anstey in the future.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book.