Sweet Delight Audiobook Review: Carols and Chaos by Cindy Anstey

Posted December 16, 2018 by Sophia Rose in Audio Delight, Reviews, Sweet Delight / 18 Comments

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I received this book for free from Narrator in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Sweet Delight Audiobook Review: Carols and Chaos by Cindy Anstey
Carols and Chaos
Narrated by Fiona Hardingham

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Genres: Holiday Romance, YA Historical Romance
Published by Listening Library
Released on 10/9/18
Format: Audiobook
Source: Narrator
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The Delight

When I was looking for a holiday listen, I was tickled to see this offered and jumped at the chance for a suspenseful dip into the Regency world below stairs during Yuletide.  The gentry are about their revels and so are the servants until a footman goes missing and a fake coin turns up in the nearby market town.


Carols and Chaos turned out to be a follow-up companion novel to Suitors and Sabotage though now the story heads below stairs for a valet and lady’s maid to get their own romantic adventure.  It probably would have had more meaning if I’d listened to the first book, but this one was still an engaging standalone.

It is December 1817 and Shackleford Park is hosting a houseparty involving Miss Imogene’s fiance and his family.  Imogene’s lady’s maid, Kate Darby is excited to welcome along with her mistress’ guests, Matt Harlow, Ben Steeples’ valet.  Before they can barely get up a flirtation, Matt’s friend Johnny gets swindled with a fake coin when a red-headed stranger bought his ring and then when he goes looking for the man, Johnny disappears.  In between taking care of her mother, her duties to her lady, the estate Yuletide festivities, and thoughts of Matt, Kate is bustling about.  Matt and Kate do their best around their duties to find Johnny and start fearing the worst.

The lavish historical backdrop and attention to authenticity was fabulous.  It was an engaging look of life below stairs during the holiday season and how life in the serving class was conducted.  The mystery wasn’t that difficult though there were some good surprises and suspenseful moments.

The set up of introducing the situation at Shackleford, Kate’s life as a local girl with family complications, and then the addition of the guests at the estate all made this one start slow and keep to that slower pace until near the end when things leaped into danger.

Kate and Matt were adorable and I was cheering for them to find a way to be together though they were in service at two different houses and, as servants, had to be careful about their reputations and keep their growing feelings hidden.  They bantered and flirted, but also made a good team.  There was a charm to their sweet Christmas romance.

Fiona Hardingham did a bang up job as a narrator for a cast of characters that included men and women and different classes.  She even did varying degrees in the servant’s class to reflect their class structure, too.  Some of her male voices were somewhat pinched, but I did enjoy her storytelling voice and her sense of tone and pacing.  I would definitely listen to more of her work.

All in all, this first time with a new to me author was a big success.  I enjoyed dipping into her Regency world and want to experience more.  This is marked as YA, but I think adult historical romance fans would appreciate this one, too.

My thanks to Listening Library for the opportunity to listen to this book in exchange for an honest review.

Holiday Delight

Several scenes in this book highlighted holiday entertainment for those staying on the estate.  They would watch something entertaining and include food.  Movies and snacks, anyone? It made me think of how I love to watch certain holiday movies every year. Here are some of my favs:

1.  Hallmark’s The Christmas Card

2.  National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

3.  Irving Berlin’s White Christmas

4.  The Holiday

5.  Charlie Brown Christmas What are some of yours?


Romance Roundabout #373 YA
New Release #192
Audio #86
HoHoHoRAT #10


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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.

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3 years ago

I love Anstey’s books. They are always fun. I am trash for Hallmark movies, and having so many new Christmas ones has been such a plus. The ultimate Christmas movie for me, aside from those great stop action ones from when I was a kid, is A Christmas Story. I just feel like Ralphie’s people were my people.

Sophia Rose
3 years ago
Reply to  Sam@WLABB

This was my first Anstey, but it won’t be my last. 🙂

I watch a couple Hallmark’s each year, but tend to go for the old black and white movies even more. 🙂 Love A Christmas Story. Good pick, Sam!

3 years ago

This one looks good and I think I could enjoy it as well so I’m curious!

Sophia Rose
3 years ago
Reply to  Melliane

Glad to tickle your fancy, Melliane. 🙂

3 years ago

I may have to try the audio version as I could not get into the print copy.

Sophia Rose
3 years ago
Reply to  vvb

I’ll admit that it was touch and go with the early part that seemed to stall out and take its time. It did help to have audio so I could be doing a chore or something while I listened. 🙂

Carole Rae
3 years ago

Awww fun!

Sophia Rose
3 years ago
Reply to  Carole Rae

I loved getting the ‘downstairs’ side of things for the Christmas holidays.

Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer

Of fun. I added this and Suitors and Sabotage to my wishlist!!

Sophia Rose
3 years ago

Yes, I thought so, too. I’ve been meaning to try her stuff and I wasn’t disappointed. I need to go back for S&S, too. Hope you like them when you get the chance, Kimberly. 🙂

3 years ago

I’m not familiar with this author, but it does sound good with the exception of the slow start. It even sounds like it would make a good Christmas movie! I haven’t watched a single Christmas movie this year. Have only done half the shopping I need to do. So behind. One of my favorite Christmas movies is Comfort and Joy with Nance McKeon from 2003. I had to google it.

Sophia Rose
3 years ago
Reply to  Lorna

I’ve had my eye on her books since the first one came out, Love Lies and Spies. I heard she did a great job with authentic historical feel and suspense. She really does.

I’ve watched one full Christmas movie and parts of two others. Hopefully I’ll finish them soon. Some years I’m behind, but (unless I’m forgetting something big) I seem to be right on time with the planning. I’ll have to look up Comfort and Joy.

3 years ago

oh I love Fiona Hardingham. I’m glad you enjoyed it. It sounds fitting for the holidays. Anne – Books of My Heart

Sophia Rose
3 years ago
Reply to  Anne

I am definitely going to watch for more of her narration work. LOL, for sure. It was holiday ready. 🙂

Angie Elle
3 years ago

This does sound like a fun read. Was it all reminiscent of Clue?

Great review. 🙂

Sophia Rose
3 years ago
Reply to  Angie Elle

It was a good one, Angie, but sadly no, the mystery was outside the house. A Clue rendition at a country house Christmas would be fun. 🙂

3 years ago

I have some Christmas themed books that I hope to read soon. I’m glad you enjoyed this one! And I love certain movies this time of the year too – A Charlie Brown Christmas in particular. Such a classic.


Sophia Rose
3 years ago

I got into the holiday reading so much more this year because I joined Kimberly’s HoHoHoRAT. This was a fun one when I wasn’t in the mood for straight romance. 🙂 Hope yours are good ones, too, Lauren.
Yes, Charlie Brown is a must. 🙂