Book Reviews, Historical Fiction, Regency, Romance

To Have and To Hoax – Martha Waters

Publication Date: April 7, 2020
Publisher: Atria Books
Genre: Regency/Historical Romance
Pages: 367
Dates Read: March 15-18, 2020
Format: eARC provided by Publisher through NetGalley

Goodreads Synopsis

“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?”

My Review


I was so excited to read this book! Regency Era is one of my very favorites, and I couldn’t wait to read this debut!

‘To Have and to Hoax’ is the story of Lady Violet Grey and Lord James Audley who met and fell in love 5 years previous. 1 year into their marriage however, they had a huge fight and have barely spoken to each other since. One day however, Violet receives a letter that James has been thrown from his horse and is unconscious, and being very alarmed, races to be with him. When she reaches their country estate, she discovers him at a tavern. He had woken and was completely fine and unaware of her concern. Violet, now extremely angry, decides to teach James a lesson and fakes her own illness. With the help of her friends, and an actor pretending to be her doctor, Violet feigns consumption, but James quickly sees through her game and decides to play along. Very quickly, the couple realizes that they may not hate each other as much as they thought, but they have to decide if 4 years of hate is too much to overcome.

I thought the writing was simply fantastic. Especially for a debut novel, and so I really look forward to more from Martha Waters in the future. I loved the charming and witty characters, and the unique twist on the RomCom with an already married couple in Regency England. I found that Violet and James were both easy to like, but their friends were fantastic, and I hope that Waters makes this more of a series and we get to see the friends stories as well.

I personally enjoyed the pranks and immature choices that this couple made, but I know that these two things + the miscommunication from their fight could be things that others may have issue with.

The reasons that this wasn’t a 5 star read for me? At times the dialogue seemed slightly too modern for what I prefer in a Regency. I also felt that the times that I knew were supposed to make me laugh-out-loud just didn’t. I found myself smiling a lot, and there was one particular part that made me cry, but the humor fell slightly flat for me. I also felt that there were certain things said that were highly repetitive. So for me it may just be that my expectations were too high, or it could have been my headspace currently, but it just fell slightly flat in those areas, so I gave it 4 stars.

Overall though, I found this debut novel to be highly enjoyable, and I look forward to more from Waters in the future–especially if she comes out with stories for the side characters which were such a gem in this novel.

Special Thanks to the Atria Books for providing me a review copy in exchange for my honest thoughts and review.


About The Author

Martha Waters was born and raised in sunny South Florida, and is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She works as a children’s librarian in North Carolina, and spends much of her free time traveling. To Have and To Hoax is her first novel.

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