G. Bianco, 2019
In Martha Waters’s debut book, To Have and to Hoax, readers are transported to Regency England where a husband and wife try to get the others attention through fake illnesses and pranks. This second-chance romance will have you laughing and hooked on every page wondering what will happen next.
Five years ago, Lady Violet Grey and Lord James Audley met, fell in love, and got married. Four years ago, they had a fight to end all fights, and have barely spoken since. Their once-passionate love match has been reduced to one of cold, detached politeness. But when Violet receives a letter that James has been thrown from his horse and rendered unconscious at their country estate, she races to be by his side—only to discover him alive and well at a tavern, and completely unaware of her concern. She’s outraged. He’s confused. And the distance between them has never been more apparent. Wanting to teach her estranged husband a lesson, Violet decides to feign an illness of her own. James quickly sees through it, but he decides to play along in an ever-escalating game of manipulation, featuring actors masquerading as doctors, threats of Swiss sanitariums, faux mistresses—and a lot of flirtation between a husband and wife who might not hate each other as much as they thought. Will the two be able to overcome four years of hurt or will they continue to deny the spark between them?
I loved the concept of this book! It was silly, funny, and steamy and all set in 1870s London! However, this book is a sloowwww burn and it takes a little bit for the action to pick up. Paired with a long prologue and very long chapters, this book requires a bit more patience to get to the good stuff. On top of that, I found some parts a bit repetitive: they get mad, the make up, they get mad again, the make up again, the get made again... you see what I mean? However, if you don’t mind a little miscommunication between lovers and some steamy reconciliations, then this is a great book to read!
What I really enjoyed about this regency romance is how Violet had her own agency and didn’t allow James to sweep her off her feet without trusting her first. She was determined to make her husband work to win her love back and she wouldn’t accept anything more that she deserved! Violet was headstrong, confident, and had agency in her relationship and it was refreshing to read about.
If you’re looking for a regency romance with strong women that’s also fun and just a little silly, then this is the book for you! I cannot wait to see what Waters will write next and what other regency shenanigans will ensue in her future books!
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