Title: To Have and To Hoax (review copy)
Author: Martha Waters
Genre/Themes: Historical Romance, Romantic Comedy, Regency Era, Lovers to Enemies to Lovers,
Blurb from Goodreads
In this fresh and hilarious historical rom-com, an estranged husband and wife in Regency England feign accidents and illness in an attempt to gain attention—and maybe just win each other back in the process.
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?
This book was such a LOL from start to finish! I’ve never read a full historical romance novel before this so I don’t know if that is exactly what this is… but whatever it is is a whole lot of fun!
I’m used to contemporary romances. And I’m used to Austen. And this was a glorious mash up of the two!
It’s like taking the best traits and tropes of a contemporary romantic comedy; so great big dollops of sass and witty banter between two fabulously funny leads.
And then transporting all of that contemporary goodness back to Regency England complete with all the stifling manners and propriety of the era which just heightens the fizzing sexual tension and adds an extra enjoyable dynamic to a fabulously ridiculous comedic storyline.
The book follows the exploits of two married characters, Violet and James, who have been enemies rather than lovers for the last four years of their five year marriage… all because they fell out over a silly argument. Like when *the argument* is revealed you’ll just roll your eyes so hard and go LOL you pair of muppets!
Anyway, Violet decides to teach her husband James a lesson by feigning illness… consumption obvs because logic!!!
But James finds out she’s faking…
And then it’s just an hilarious game of trying to get the other to fold first by ramping up the stakes to try and make each other unbearably jealous with bonkers scheme after bonkers scheme!!!
Is it ridiculous? Well yes.
Utterly over the top? Sure.
But ohhhhhh so enjoyable!
I thoroughly laughed my way through this read and heartily relished the playful and teasing nature of the plot.
It was possibly a little bit too long and repetitive…
Personally I thought it should have wrapped up around the 90% mark as the quarrelling between Violet and James had begun to get tedious and the last obstacle to happy ever after was unnecessary and overdone in my opinion; I thought that one character shouldered a little too much of the blame for *the argument* over the other in the end. To me they were both complicit in the reasons for and the idiocy of the whole sorry mess!!
However, the lead characters of Violet and James, though perpetually juvenile in their actions, were both immensely charismatic and had chemistry to burn so that somewhat countered the repetitive nature of the plot developments. I should warn potential readers to prepare for stupidly stubborn characters though. Like there’s stubborn for us regular people and then there’s Violet and James level of stubborn! Off the Richter scale are those two!!!
I did feel that the supporting characters each added their own unique charm to the main plot line. In fact I would not be surprised if there were spin off books focusing on some of the side characters and their potential romances e.g. Diana, Emily, Jeremy.
If you want a book to escape from the real world for a bit then this is the perfect read. It’s got likeable characters. A very accessible style of narrative and just the perfect amount of steaminess. It’s like a good lemon mousse; light and airy with just the perfect amount of acerbic wit to balance it out.
*An e-copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
Publishing: 7 April 2020, Headline Eternal