Book Review – To Have and to Hoax

Title: To Have and to Hoax (The Regency Vows #1)

Author: Martha Waters

Publisher: Atria Books

Publication date: April 7th, 2020

367 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

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?

With charm, wit, and heart in spades, To Have and to Hoax is a fresh and eminently entertaining romantic comedy—perfect for fans of Jasmine Guillory and Julia Quinn. 

Review

To Have and to Hoax starts a series of regency romance novels akin to Evie Dunmore’s series. Hoax follows Lady Violet, wife to Lord James Audley, though they have barely spoken in four years after a terrible fight. When Lord James is hurt being thrown off his horse and doesn’t deign to tell her, Violet decides to take revenge and fake her own illness, to force her husband to show some emotions. But Lord James catches on quickly, and the whole plan devolves.

I was wildly entertained by this story. Regency romances aren’t always my favorite style, but Martha Waters writes the version of regency that I love. The friend group on both sides of the couple are interesting and compelling, the sexual tension between Violet and James leaped off the page, and the intrigue of high society in England is always fascinating to me. Waters feeds bits of the conflict between Violet and James to you over the course of the book, so you’re kept guessing at the details of the big fight that led to the rift.

There is a decent level of steam to this book, open door scenes and descriptions. There aren’t a lot of scenes, but they are there. There are times where both characters seem a bit childish, playing pranks on each other (especially when they are supposed to be high society, stuffy types). It’s similar to You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle.

For fans of regency, Evie Dunmore, and Sarah Hogle, To Have and to Hoax starts a new series with titled lords and ladies, societal intrigue, steam, and love.

Happy reading, folks!

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