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The Regency Vows #2

To Love and to Loathe

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The widowed Diana, Lady Templeton and Jeremy, Marquess of Willingham are infamous among English high society as much for their sharp-tongued bickering as their flirtation. One evening, an argument at a ball turns into a serious wager: Jeremy will marry within the year or Diana will forfeit one hundred pounds. So shortly after, just before a fortnight-long house party at Elderwild, Jeremy’s country estate, Diana is shocked when Jeremy appears at her home with a very different kind of proposition.

After his latest mistress unfavorably criticized his skills in the bedroom, Jeremy is looking for reassurance, so he has gone to the only woman he trusts to be totally truthful. He suggests that they embark on a brief affair while at the house party—Jeremy can receive an honest critique of his bedroom skills and widowed Diana can use the gossip to signal to other gentlemen that she is interested in taking a lover.

Diana thinks taking him up on his counter-proposal can only help her win her wager. With her in the bedroom and Jeremy’s marriage-minded grandmother, the formidable Dowager Marchioness of Willingham, helping to find suitable matches among the eligible ladies at Elderwild, Diana is confident her victory is assured. But while they’re focused on winning wagers, they stand to lose their own hearts.

384 pages, Paperback

First published April 6, 2021

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About the author

Martha Waters

6 books1,049 followers
Martha Waters is the author of To Have and to Hoax and To Love and to Loathe. She was born and raised in sunny South Florida and is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. By day, she works as a children's librarian, and loves sundresses, gin cocktails, and traveling. Sign up for her newsletter for periodic book news and reading & travel recs: http://tinyletter.com/marthawaters

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,110 reviews
Profile Image for jessica.
2,506 reviews30.9k followers
February 24, 2021
this is cute and i think i would have loved it more if i hadnt already read ‘a rogue of ones own,’ because i just couldnt help but compare the similarities.

i liked the idea of the plot, the setting, the writing and dialogue - all help make this a quick and entertaining read. but i honestly dont have much to say other than its decent. nothing really stood out to me other than just the basic pleasantness of it all.

this is definitely a fun and enjoyable story, perfect if you are looking for a easy going historical romance as it can be read as a standalone, but it just happens that ive already read another book that does this kind of story slightly better.

thanks so much to atria books for the ARC!

3.5 stars
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,129 reviews39.2k followers
February 27, 2022
This is cure to my bleeding soul and dark, sulking mood! It’s not chicken soup but it’s definitely quite lovely, refreshing, brightening vaccine to rejuvenate me! All we need is now to read this kind of sweet, swoon, smart, entertaining books to energize us, putting genuine smile to our faces, motivating us to get through our moody, grumpy natures ( grumpy already became my first name after surviving through 2020 and I’m counting my days to get rid of that bitch! )

A brief introduction to the story: Widowed Lady Templeton cannot help her nonstop banters with Jeremy, Marquess of Willingham. He always knows how to push her buttons which results with more fiery arguments, throwing meaningful insults, sizzling growing intimacy. Both of their reputations at the stake. They’re already infamous among English high society. Considering they’re living in the 19th century, they have less freedom and live under more pressure of their inner circle!

Jeremy’s grandmother wants him elope in one year but Jeremy already lost his confidence at unfortunate attempt with her mistress who relentlessly criticizes his skills on bed. He needs some practice, actually he needs someone who can be straightforward, telling him the ugly truth about his sexual talent. That should be only Lady Templeton who can be honest to his face!

So he suggests her with offer ( frenemies with benefits kind of valuable one) which could help with both of their love life problems. He offers her no strings attached- very tempting encounter to test his skills. And in return when the gossip wheels start spinning, Lady Templeton could signal the charming gentlemen her openness to take a lover.

It starts like a game they both win till their hearts, souls and minds are at stake!
There are some unexpected twists that truly surprise you and some unnecessary angst boils your blood.

So far I enjoyed both of the characters. Their nonstop, laugh out loud bickering, pant melting chemistry in bed, their intimacy stole my heart. I can honestly say I loved this book more than the first installment and I highly recommend the readers who need urgent recovery from darkening moods. This book checked all the boxes for my ideal historical romance and enjoyable romcom criterions!
So I proudly recommend this book to all die-hard romance fans!

Special thanks to NetGalley and Atria Books for sending me this review copy of this lovely book in exchange my honest opinions.
Profile Image for Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘.
832 reviews3,720 followers
April 12, 2021
Sigh. It seems that I shall never fall in love with Martha Water’s novels and that’s because *throws up my hands* they’re so aggravating. I, for one, do not enjoy shouting “but why would you do that?” but alas, somehow it always comes to that, and I’m tired, okay?

On how conflict is badly manufactured

For a moment there, I thought that I’d enjoy this one more than To Have and to Hoax, because I genuinely liked Diana and Jeremy’s dynamics at first. It’s a shame, really, because there are many things this book almost does well : Diana is independent and funny, for the most part. Jeremy is charming, he listens. The discussion on sex and pleasure is good. They have chemistry together. But why, why must everyone in this be so damn set on dragging situations that don’t deserve to go on more than half a page, so much that I wanted to stop reading?

I have a confession to make : I had to skim parts because I just – I couldn’t stand them. Diana’s antics regarding Jeremy’s marriage made no sense, her deception went for far too long, and irritated the hell out of me. Why put so much effort in complicating one own life? WHY? I’m begging to understand! I’m so mad at them for ruining such a great chemistry. So mad.

There’s nothing more frustrating than characters systematically choosing the worst option available – worst than that, even: too many times it felt like Diana and Jeremy would look at the choices available, stare at the worst one, and then twist it to create a new situation so idiotic and unnecessarily cruel that you reader can’t even begin to comprehend how the thought was even allowed to form in their mind. Honestly, reading To Love and to Loathe feels like gaslighting at times : you’re sure you’re not the one overreacting but the characters keep trying to convince you that their reactions are perfectly fine, when it’s clear they’re not. To keep the plot going, these characters do a 180 and take decisions that just don’t make any sense at all, and as it’s something I found really infuriating in To Have and to Hoax too, I’m sorry but I’m starting to think that it comes from bad craft.

Other things I didn’t like: a non-exhaustive list

▪ Jeremy’s emphasis on Diana’s breast : we get it!!!!
The tone is all over the place, and it feels like the book doesn’t know what it wants to be ;
▪ Too much time spent on secondary characters I could never manage to care about. I feel ashamed because I usually love friendship between women but here I just found their conversations very grating ;
▪ At some point Violet (!!!) of all people gives relationship advice and excuse me? The audacity of that woman, I can’t even.
▪ One character isn’t who they appear to be and that was obvious from the start, yet Diana and Jeremy, those fools, are so wrapped in themselves that they don’t even realize.
▪ So many of Diana’s decisions – especially in regards to Jeremy’s marriage – seem to come out of spite and having read The Day of the Duchess recently, the comparison is inevitable, and not in Diana’s favor.

But the most infuriating part was when Violet outed a lesbian character to her friends and to Jeremy, for no reasons at all. The fuck? I couldn’t believe she’d be so self-centered that she’d go there but apparently she wanted to crush any leftover sympathy I had for her. Again, it was so unnecessarily cruel and selfish!

– Bottom line –

I’ve said I’d give Martha Waters’ novels another chance. Sadly, it’s a miss, and we’ll have to part ways. I shall stay firmly in the minority on this. For real, though? I need to stop writing now or I’ll remove another star *slowly takes a step back*.

For more of my reviews, please visit :
Profile Image for Samantha.
409 reviews16.7k followers
March 20, 2021
tw: death of a sibling

As someone who hasn't read a lot of historically, I'm not sure if this was meant to be more over-the-top than most of them are but it definitely had that tongue in cheek feel to it. This is a bantering almost rivals to lovers, including a fake (but actually real) tryst meant to help out the both of them. While there is a lot of what feels like over the top behavior from some of the characters, it was overall enjoyable. There is a side character who is a lesbian and it is used a bit as a twist but overall I think the character is handled fairly well for the time period the story is set in. Cute but surface level for sure.
Profile Image for Debra .
2,198 reviews34.9k followers
April 6, 2021
3.5 stars

To Love and to Loathe is the second book in The Regency Vows series but worked very well as a stand-alone book for me.

The widowed Diana Templeton and Jeremy, Marquess of Willingham, members of the English High Society are both notorious for their bickering and flirting. One evening, at a ball, they enter a wager that Jeremy will marry within the year or Diana will give him 100 pounds. What is a little wager between frenemies? So, Diana is naturally shocked with Jeremy visits her at her home and proposes an altogether different wager - a mutually beneficial one. Jeremy recently had his manhood questioned by a recent lover who had criticism about his prowess in the bedroom. Jeremy wants Diana to help him soothe his ego, test his skills in the bedroom and Diana gets well, a lover with no strings attached. But what happens when feelings get in the way? What happens if Jeremy's marriage-minded grandmother, the formidable Dowager Marchioness of Willingham, finds a future wife for him?

This is a fun book with both characters engaging in witty repartee. They are the perfect frenemies - they bicker, have chemistry and are likeable. There is also a few twists and drama along the way. Both characters are engaging and there is more to both Diana and Jeremy than meets the eye. Will you be rooting for them to connect? Will you be hearing Marvin Gaye singing” Let’s Get it on” while reading this book as I did? Will their arrangement work? Will feelings get in the way? You will need to read and find out!

Another enjoyable fast read which is a perfect choice you want to escape the world and be entertained. I will admit I had some doubt going forward - a Romcom set in the past.... will it work for me???? Yes, yes it did! Quite nicely in fact. I will be on the lookout for book three in the series. I just hope it is as amusing, witty, and fun as this one.

Thank you to Atria Books and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own.

See more of my reviews at www.openbookpost.com
Profile Image for Lily Herman.
543 reviews565 followers
October 1, 2020
I don't know about y'all, but between the pandemic and the upcoming U.S. election, I just can't emotionally handle anything other than romance novels that make me feel a bit emo. And lucky for me, Martha Waters' upcoming release To Love and to Loathe is cuuuuute AF and easily satisfies my never-ending quest for tension-filled enemies-to-lovers stories.

I thoroughly enjoyed Martha Waters' debut novel To Have and to Hoax (such excellent dialogue!), and I feel like To Love and to Loathe really built on that momentum. This novel was crisper and cleaner, and both Diana and Jeremy were such wonderfully complex characters with truly complicated struggles. Their agitation and banter was just so well done, and this book also had a few fun twists I didn't see coming. I've! got! the! feels!

There was touch of slightly absurd messiness with some of the inevitable conflicts towards the end of the book, but overall, this one was a fun ride. I can't wait to see what Martha Waters publishes next. (PLEASE TELL ME THAT IT'S EMILY AND BELFRY, DEAR GOD.)
Profile Image for Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader.
2,084 reviews30.1k followers
April 5, 2021
Historical rom com, anyone?! This was SO refreshing. I have not read the first book, To Have and to Hoax, but I certainly want to now.

The two main characters are the widowed Lady Templeton and the Marquess of Willingham, Jeremy. The witty banter flies between them. I mean, it really flies! Of course, the chemistry is building at the same time as they insult each other and argue away.

The banter had me laughing, and overall, this book made me smile! I definitely read this at the right time. May I please sign up for The Regency Vows #3? ♥️

I received a gifted copy.

Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com and instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader
Profile Image for Bethany (Beautifully Bookish Bethany).
1,972 reviews3,292 followers
March 10, 2021
To Love and to Loathe has a great setup and I thought I would really enjoy it, but it does some things I find irritating and it very poorly handles the existence of a queer side character, including the heroine privately outing them to people SHE finds trustworthy without the consent of the person in question. Outing someone to your friends, especially in a time when things were incredibly dangerous for queer people is NOT okay and I'm not sure how this made it through the editing process.

The heroine is a widow who is determined to maintain her freedom and financial independence, but is interested in casual affairs though she's not sure how to show she's "open for business" so to speak. The hero is her childhood friend and a notorious rake, but after ending things with his last mistress who gave him a bad review of his bedroom skills, he's seeking affirmation that he's as good as he thinks he is before moving on to a new mistress. And so they decide to conduct a brief affair during a house party for both their sakes. Not realizing they have actual feelings simmering beneath the surface.

The setup for this is fantastic and I thought I would love it, but I ended up finding the characters and their actual romance a bit lackluster, wasn't convinced the ending made sense given the personality and concerns of the heroine, and really disliked everything surrounding the treatment of this queer side character. I think the author was trying to say something about how LGBT people found ways to exist during that time, but it was very poorly handled. Others will likely enjoy this more than I did, but ultimately I just couldn't get on board with several elements of it. I received an advance copy for review via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Mara.
1,507 reviews3,664 followers
May 21, 2021
Updated rating to 4 stars upon reflection of the issue outlined below re:sapphic characters
While I enjoyed the first book, my main issue with it was that the trope combo felt a little too YA for an adult romance. This book does not have that issue but at all... we've got best friend's little sister. We've got "bang it out of our systems." We've got "teach me how to bang." We've got reformed rake and the world weary widow. So a lot of trope candy that works really well for me. Then we've also got A+ banter, a great group of found family, and a lady artist in the Regency. So... yeah, overall this just hit the spot for me overall.
The only thing that makes me hesitate a bit is the portrayal of a sapphic side character in this book. I am not a part of the community being represented, so I can't say for sure, but there was just something about the way that character was portrayed that felt rather off to me. I'll defer to own voices reviewers for their take on that one (Updated to add: own voices reviewers have pointed out that this character is outed, which was not how I'd processed that plot point previously. However, they are 100% correct and I agree that this is the "off" element I was trying to put my finger on in my initial read)
Hoping we get Emily & Belfry's book next!
Profile Image for Aoife - Bookish_Babbling.
285 reviews303 followers
July 14, 2022
Hoping to keep this short & sweet (famous last words) as this has been "finished" since early May...it is now Sept and this *needs* to vacate my CR shelf! 🙈

3.5* as I did enjoy it more than To Have & to Hoax, but in fairness that was not an especially high bar to clear considering the best things for me about that book were the side characters - 2 of which moved center stage for this instalment 🙃

The gang move from London to the Country for a "house party" hot on the heels of the wager between our MCs which morphs into a side project early in this story - the blurb sells this better than I can without spoiling things 🙊

The character interactions are this series strength for me. I think what I love most about Regency themed reads are the witty ways people in society interact and play with words - appearing cordial but more often than not being anything but & these two get off on toeing that line when communicating in public 😈

Bearing in mind the bargain struck between Diana & Jeremy I rather thought this would be steamier and had hoped considering the cut of her gib that maybe Diana could have been a smidge more experienced without being judged for it - I think had those angles been pursued this could have rated higher 🤔
I don't want a complete role reversal - am more than happy for him to be a time appropriate rake. But why not go one step further and make her the self-assured lady she presents herself to be without him? I know this plays somewhat against what she hopes to gain from their deal, but it still feels like a bit of a missed opportunity not to shake things up a little more and set itself apart from other books in this genre which can sometimes get repetitive and formulaic. Nobody seems to think any less of Sophie for her dalliance(s) as a widow so why not make Diana similiarly more experienced 🤷‍♀️

The artistry was a nice touch, I LOVED the Dowager Marchioness (of course) and it was interesting to see the author introduce an LGBTQ character - altho I like other reviews (eg: Bethany) am iffy on some of the interactions surrounding this character which has also affected my rating 😕

I am curious to see where the author goes with the next book in this series based off those characters interactions in this one, so shall check back in with this gang when that is released but ultimately this one didn't quite hit as I'd hoped it might 🤗
Profile Image for Caz.
2,643 reviews1,001 followers
May 9, 2021
I've given this a B+ at AAR, so 4.5 stars

To Love and To Loathe is the follow-up to Martha Waters’ 2020 début historical romance, To Have and to Hoax AAR's reviewer was less than impressed with it, citing problems with the premise and immaturity of the leads, and overall, reviews were mixed. With so many other books to review on my plate, I didn’t get around to reading it, so I can’t offer an opinion.  But I wanted to give the author a try, so I picked up this second book in The Regency Vows series, because I am a sucker for that whole Beatrice and Benedick sparring-couple-who-are-desperately-in-love-but-would-deny-it-to-the-death thing.  And I’m glad I did, because To Love and To Loathe is funny, clever and sexy, featuring complex, well-rounded characters and incorporating pertinent observations about the nature of privilege and the unfairness of the patriarchal norms and laws that deprived women of autonomy.

At the age of eighteen, the Honourable Diana Bourne is well aware that most men are fools, but a man doesn’t need to be clever to be possessed of a hefty fortune, which is exactly what she’s looking for.  Since the death of their parents, she and her brother have lived with relatives who have seen her as nothing but a burden and who resent the expense her presence incurs.  So Diana is determined to snare a wealthy husband so she will never have to worry about something as vulgar as money ever again.

The one tiny glitch in her plan is her brother’s best friend, Jeremy Overington, Marquess of Willingham, who while just as much of a fool as every other man, is nonetheless a massively enticing fool who has only to walk into a room to turn the head of every woman in it – and set Diana’s heart beating just a bit faster than she would like.  But no matter how handsome and charming Jeremy is (or how strongly she’s attracted to him), he’s irresponsible,  overly fond of drink and women, and – most importantly – almost broke, so he won’t suit Diana’s purposes at all.

A few years later, Diana is a wealthy widow and Jeremy is still cutting a swathe through the beds of the bored wives and widows of the ton.  Their inability to agree on anything is widely known throughout society, as is the fact they’re engaged in a game of one-upmanship involving a constant barrage of well-aimed barbs and cleverly chosen put-downs.  On one particular evening when Willingham again scoffs at the idea of matrimony, Diana impulsively wagers him that he’ll be married within the year – or she’ll pay him the sum of one hundred pounds.  Of course, Willingham accepts – and only afterwards does Diana realise it was perhaps not the wisest thing she’s ever done, because honestly, she can’t see him marrying in the next twelve months, either.

Shortly after the wager is made – and just before Diana is to travel to Jeremy’s country estate for his annual house party – he comes to her seeking her help on a very delicate matter.  His most recent mistress implied he couldn’t satisfy her in bed – and Jeremy can’t get her accusations out of his mind.  Looking for reassurance, he turns to the only woman he knows he can rely on to tell him the absolute truth – and suggests to Diana that they embark on a brief affair during the house party.  Diana isn’t inclined to agree to this – until he points out that a discreet affair with him will send the right signals to other gentlemen that she is interested in taking a lover.

“I’m not certain that the signal I’m looking to send is that I’ve joined the legion of women who’ve lifted their skirts for the Marquess of Willingham.  I’m surprised they haven’t formed a society. With matching hats.”

She’s still not convinced – until Jeremy points out:

“If nothing else, it would finally dispel whatever this is between us,” he added, waving his hand at the space between them… “And don’t tell me you don’t know what I mean… Because I know you do.”

Of course as any romance reader knows, the old let’s-do-it-once-to-get-it-out-of-our-systems chestnut never works the way the participants intend it to.  Diana and Jeremy are obviously head-over-heels for each other from the get-go and have been that way for years, but there are obstacles preventing both of them from fully acknowledging the truth of their feelings for one another – obstacles that feel authentic to who these two people are; flawed but immensely likeable characters who learn about themselves as they gradually reveal more of their true selves to each other.

I really liked that Diana and Jeremy were so clear-sighted about each other, even as they had things to learn about one another.  Jeremy viewed the younger Diana’s eagerness to marry as somewhat mercenary, but didn’t know the reasons behind it; Diana suspects Jeremy is hiding his intelligence behind the wastrel he presents to society, but hasn’t fully understood the depth of his grief and anger over the death of the older brother who left him with a title and responsibilities he’d not been brought up to and didn’t want.  They’re both perspicacious and fully up to each other’s weight when it comes to their ‘merry war’, and their chemistry as they snark and flirt their way towards their HEA is terrific.

I liked them individually and together.  Diana is clever and funny and her status as a widow means she’s allowed more freedom to do as she wants than an unmarried woman would be, so her reluctance to consider giving up her independence in another marriage is understandable. And I loved Jeremy, a decent, considerate, generous man who has spent years making certain no-one would ever expect anything of him or take him too seriously because of his deep sense of unworthiness.  Their inner conflicts are very well articulated and I loved watching them come to a greater understanding of one another.

I really enjoyed the book, but there are a few things that keep it just out of DIK territory.   Part of Diana’s plan to win the wager involves her trying to find someone else to get Jeremy married off to – and she decides to throw him together with Lady Helen, a young woman known to be desperate to find a husband and who is widely disliked.  Hints are dropped that Lady Helen is not what she seems, but Diana doesn’t know this and her determination to marry the man she loves (even if she isn’t ready to admit to it) to a young woman who is so patently wrong for him and would make him utterly miserable just didn’t sit right with me.  I get that it was a mark of Diana’s desperation not to admit to how she felt about Jeremy, but it felt childish and petty.

The Big Mis that occurs near the end is a misfire, and I wasn’t wild about the amount of time given to setting up a future book in the series, which interrupted the flow of the main narrative. It’s well done and skilfully integrated into conversation and multi-character scenes, but I could still have done with a bit less of it.

All in all however, To Love and To Loathe is great fun. The writing is crisp and clever, the characters are engaging and the dialogue sparkles.  For those of you who – like me –  have been struggling to find really good historical romance lately, I’m happy to say that it’s well worth a look.
Profile Image for Mary.
1,413 reviews491 followers
April 7, 2021
To Love and to Loathe by Martha Waters is book 2 of the Regency Vows series, and just like book 1 (To Have and to Hoax), I simply adored it! It is full of snark, humor, romance, and just enough steam to get you going. I usually don't read historical romance, but this is a series I love coming back to, and I really liked the way Waters brought back characters we have already had the pleasure of meeting in the first book. I am such a huge fan of the way this author writes, and even though I tend to read this series slower than I normally read, I still love every minute of it. I snickered and laughed out loud more times than I can count, and I loved our lead characters, Diana and Jeremy. The book is told from both of their perspectives and I wouldn't have had it any other way.

I do want to say a quick word about the audiobook since I decided to check that out for the last part of the book. Anais Inara Chase & Joel Froomkin narrate it and I thought it was so fantastically done. They were the perfect narrators for Diana and Jeremy and even though I always love when there is more than one narrator, I especially loved it for To Love and to Loathe. I think the audio is a great option if you like listening to books, and I can tell you that you definitely won't be disappointed by Chase and Froomkin. This is such a refreshing series and I always love the banter between all of the characters. Diana is one of my favorites by far, and I was so happy to get her story through this book. If you like romcoms in any form, I highly recommend both of the books in this series!

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Profile Image for Barbara Rogers.
1,481 reviews137 followers
March 28, 2021
Series: The Regency Vows #2
Publication Date: 4/6/21
Number of Pages: 384
Barbara’s Rating: ** 2.5 ** Stars

I have just finished reading four outstanding, exciting, thrilling, edge-of-your-seat, 5-star historical mysteries and I wanted something light, humorous, entertaining, and romantic to read next. From the description in the book blurb, I decided this would be the perfect book to read next. Unfortunately, for me, it fell far, far, far short of being light, humorous, entertaining, or romantic. I was okay with the male lead, Jeremy – I didn’t love him, but I didn’t dislike him either. The female lead, on the other hand, is one of the most despicable, conniving, and sly mean-girls I’ve ever read – and I’ve been reading a very long time. If you took this same story and made it about bullies in school who were picking on and conniving against someone who couldn’t really fight back because they didn’t know what was happening behind their back – you wouldn’t find it the least bit funny. To me, Diana is that lead bully and she does some very despicable things to Jeremy. I absolutely cannot believe he could come to love her.

I really struggled with how to rate the book. I was confident in my 2.5-star rating, but since I could only go with a 2 or a 3 on Goodreads, my conundrum was whether to round up or down. The only way I could convince myself to round up to 3 was because of the last 15% of the book and I just didn’t feel as if that made up for the first 85%. Diana was one person during the first 85% of the book and a totally different one during the last 15% of the book. The author tries to convince us that the person we met in the first 85% of the book was just a mask that Diana wore in order to ‘protect’ the real person. I could have almost bought some of that if she hadn’t done such hateful things to people who were not harming her in any way at all. It wasn’t only that she did hateful things – it was that she was gleeful and thoroughly enjoyed what she did and gave absolutely no care whatsoever about the life she was trying to sentence two innocent people to. I’m sorry – I couldn’t find even a little bit of liking for her. Her reason for needing to protect herself with a ‘mask’? She and her brother were orphaned and then raised by an aunt and uncle. Diana and her brother had no money, but they were well-clothed, well-fed, warm, and lived in a comfortable home where friends were welcome to visit. However, she felt ‘unwelcome’ though nobody ever actually said so – they did comment, however, on how expensive it was to raise her. She must have been a really insecure individual to have developed such complete trauma over being raised that way.

One of the despicable things she did was to try to trap Jeremy with a vile woman and force a marriage. Why would anybody want to do that to another person? Yet, not only was Diana slyly and gleefully trying to do that, her friends were going along with it – even Jeremy’s friends weren’t calling her on it.

Another despicable thing was that Lady Helen discussed a very, very private and dangerous secret with Diana – because Diana intimated she already knew the secret (she didn’t). This secret was one that could get Lady Helen hanged in that period. So, what does Diana do? Why she heads right in to share it with her friends – after swearing them to secrecy of course. Later, she tells Jeremy – though he already knew.

Another thing I disliked about Diana (and her friends) was their total disrespect and disregard for males. There are many, many, many mentions of how stupid and useless the males of the species are. It just goes against my grain because I think there are very intelligent females and very intelligent males – and I think there are also very unintelligent females and males as well. Why does it always have to be winners and losers rather than respect for each other?

Why did I think Diana was gleeful in the harm she was trying to cause? Here are only a couple of quotes, but keep in mind I had an ARC, so these may not all make it into the final cut of the book. There are LOTS of them, but here is a couple.

“Diana, being a naturally devious person by nature, occasionally took advantage of this fact in her conversations with Emily…”

“Lady Helen seemed to be just as odious as she appeared. Which, in turn, begged the question: how was Diana possibly going to convince Willingham to marry the lady?”

“Diana thought that it was a great shame she had been born female, for she would have made an admirable general. All the people around her were players on a chessboard, moving about the board according to her plans.”

I really, really wanted to love this book because I was in need of a lighthearted, humorous, happy, and romantic read. I just couldn’t get there no matter how hard I tried. I definitely wouldn’t read this book a second time – and even though Emily seems like an interesting character, I won’t be reading her book either.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Mlpmom (Book Reviewer).
2,981 reviews363 followers
April 5, 2021
This was the very first book that I have read from this author and I'm so glad that I took a chance on her and the series because this really was just so much fun.

The banter between these two was definitely tension filled in all the very best ways and the enemies to lovers trope has always been a favorite of mine. Through in some hijinks, things not always going as planned and some deep seeded passion and you had one heck of a read all set in a time of place that was magical.

Such a fun read that lets you get away for a few hours and be transported somewhere else, into a much simpler time and into a steamy romance that anyone is sure to love.

*ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Profile Image for Chloe Liese.
Author 19 books6,008 followers
December 9, 2020
Thank you to Atria and NetGalley for this advance review copy; all opinions are my own! Full review with quotes included to come closer to Pub Day but for now...

Everything I liked about To Have and to Hoax was even stronger in To Love and to Loathe. Sharp banter, dynamic characters, fast-paced and deliciously domestic setting. There's something cozy about Waters' writing--while she keeps the narrative moving and engages you with the plot, you know you can rest easy in her hands, that happily ever after is coming, with plenty of laughs along the way along with the satisfying journey through both main characters' growth toward their realization of their true-love-feelings.

I'll also say how deeply I appreciated the self-awareness infused in the dialogue--be that about the privilege of heteronormative relationships, the unfairness of patriarchal norms, the despicable misogynist laws that wiped away a woman's autonomy, finances, and independence. Historical romances often gloss over this, and I really valued seeing it included. I also really enjoyed there being open communication about pleasure, personal preference for how it's achieved, and the degree of vulnerability both Jeremy and Diana were open to in the bedroom. Love to see sex-positivity and intimate communication normalized in romance!
Profile Image for Olive Fellows (abookolive).
566 reviews4,591 followers
April 3, 2021
This was a bit of a letdown, unfortunately. Before going any further, let me say that I LOVED the first book. Like, it was my favorite romance book of last year loved it. (My review of To Have and to Hoax is over on Booktube: https://youtu.be/9_fy6emL4Zg) And while some of the magic that I loved in the first book was in here, a lot of it was not.

The basic premise is that the young widow Diana and the charming rake Jeremy have been verbal sparring partners since their younger years - Jeremy is good friends with Diana's older brother, so they've known each other a long time. In their adult years, they started to feel an undeniable chemistry between them, but anything that could have been was put on hold because Diana married an older man (out of necessity).

Fast forward five years. Diana is now a widow and Jeremy has slept with scores of women, curating himself quite the reputation. On par with their normal gibes at one another, Diana bets £100 that she can get Jeremy married off in a year. Confusingly, shortly after making this bet, the two of them also enter into a mutually beneficial friends-with-benefits arrangement for the duration of a two-week-long hunting party at Jeremy's country estate.

So during this visit, Diana is simultaneously trying to fix Jeremy up with a woman who seems to be throwing herself at his feet, while lusting after him herself, and developing feelings for him as she starts to get to know him better. And those feelings are hardly one-sided.

It's a cute setup, but there's a lot going on. Too much, honestly. It's not even just that these two main characters are getting physically involved with one another while also being at odds because of this bet. That's confusing enough already, but there's also a lot going on on the sidelines: Diana's artistic ambitions are revealed, the previous book's couple (Violet and James) makes many appearances, James's brother West is rekindling an old flame, Diana and Violet's friend Emily is sort of/kind of being courted at this party but has a whole complicated thing going on because of her father's gambling debts, the woman throwing herself at Jeremy might not be as enthusiastic about him as she's letting on, Jeremy's spitfire grandmother is getting involved in Jeremy and Diana's mess...it's enough to make your head spin.

What I loved most about the first book was that the emotional aspect of the estrangement of Violet and James was played out over the whole book. There's not just one emotional dumping session in which you find out why a character has been feeling the way they've been feeling by means of one huge monologue. No, things are much more gradually revealed in a way that felt a lot more authentic. In this second book, there were so many other elements at play that I don't think we got enough time with the couple for the deep emotions to slowly creep out. Instead, we got an infodump-y climax and an ending that didn't even acknowledge the vast majority of the side plots that were introduced.

I was honestly hoping that this book would span a year's time since the timeframe for the bet was a year. I envisioned Diana hunting down suitors for Jeremy only for those suitors to get rejected over and over (a ploy by Jeremy so he could get time alone with Diana). The climax could have been when he finally likes one of the candidates, but then Diana starts to panic because she's gotten to know him so well over the previous months and now has feelings for him, right as he starts to show an interest in someone else. I personally would have found something like that a lot more effective than a close proximity setup and the side plot distraction galore.

All of that being said (whew), the banter is almost as good as the first book and so many parts of this book are laugh-out-loud funny. The author is a great writer, but as her acknowledgement section seems to hint, she didn't have the time to focus on this book that she had with the first one. Sadly, it shows in the finished product. Not a bad book by any means, but an unsatisfying follow-up to a truly stellar first installment.
Profile Image for Robin.
297 reviews1,278 followers
April 12, 2021
↠ 3 stars

A regency romance perfect for fans of Bridgerton and historical fiction alike. When the widowed Diana, the Lady Templeton, finds herself in need of a change, she strikes a wager with Jeremy, the Marquess of Willingham that he will be married within the year. Unfortunately for Diana, she gets herself into far more than she initially bargained for. Jeremy has something completely different in mind for the deal, suggesting they include a friends-with-benefits situation that will last the duration of a house party he is hosting at one of his many estates. Diana really doesn't want to lose the wager, so in the interest of the one hundred pounds she stands to lose, agrees to the arrangement. Unbeknownst to the two of them, their connection is far stronger than the measly wager that threatens to drive a wedge between them.

Having not read the previous book in the Regency Vows trilogy, I was prepared to dive head first into its second book To Love and to Loathe. For the most part, this was a fun lighthearted romance that I would recommend to anyone looking for a quick read to space out more content heavy books. The characters encompassed within are witty, and the plot not overly complicated to keep up with. Most of what drew me to this initially was the betting concept and two people that reluctantly fall in love with one another. I am happy to say on that aspect the book did not disappoint. Jeremy and Diana had such a frenemies to lovers vibe going on it was kind of impossible to not enjoy the development of their relationship. Where this diverges, is in the way that the book tackled too many plot points at once. There was really just far too much going on, from Diana’s artistic talents to the side characters problems that were weirdly focused on and then promptly abandoned. All this did was repeatedly take me out of the story until I found I could no longer focus on it. Clearly some of the side plots are important, like the one that is going on in the background to set up the next book, but most others were unnecessary to what was going on. Other than that, the whole book seemed a bit rushed to me, especially in regards to the romantic relationship between the two main characters. I think there could have either been more background given to them and their history, or more time spent drawing out the conflict that was occurring between the two of them. While there were many moments during this where I was enjoying myself, it is evident that more time needed to be spent on it. I have heard amazing things about the book one though, so I may get around to reading that at some point.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this arc in exchange for an honest review

Trigger warnings: death, grief
Profile Image for sil ♡ the book voyagers.
1,025 reviews2,533 followers
April 3, 2021
Martha Waters rapidly has become a historical rom-com queen. She continues to add just the perfect amount of comedy and romance to make a book so very enjoyable. You will always get laughs and swoons in a Martha Waters novel. To Love and to Loathe was a highly anticipated romance for me because when I read her debut novel To Have and to Hoax, I was instantly captivated and intrigued by Jeremy and Diana, these two people who cannot be in front of each other without bickering. And finally, reading their book definitely delivered.

I love sex pacts because almost always when they agree to have an unattached liaison, it never ends the way they expected it to end. Because news flash, my naive little beautiful main characters! YOU WILL FALL IN LOVE!!!! It's wonderful to see it happens because you know it's gonna happen but it's always so nice to see it before your eyes and all the little details that sum up to the one big THING of confessing their love for each other. Jeremy and Diana were A+ enemies to lovers who banter at every chance they get, everyone is so very tired of them just arguing, but hello they might be catching feelings while being on this 2-week vacation at a beautiful country estate.

Another thing I highly enjoyed was the resemble Jeremy, Marquess of Wittingham, has to Pacey Witter, Dawson's Creek's best character. It's THERE!!!! Funny, flirty, always letting everyone down because they expect stuff from him that he cannot give, but also really they all have put Jeremy in a box of never being serious enough and him letting them all believe he's just a careless rake. That's our lovely Pacey. Him bickering with his childhood crush? UHM YUP. Then they kiss behind closed doors? You got it. This relationship reminded me so much of them that I am adding an extra star just because of that. Because sadly, we do not get a lot of Pacey romance heroes out there.

But I'm taking off a star because Diana had no reason to share secrets that weren't hers. If you have read it, you know.

I'm excited that Martha has announced Emily's book AND IT'S A MARRIAGE OF CONVENIENCE. MY FAVORITE TROPE?!!!! Martha keeps giving and we just receive really the best result. I'm expecting lots of sexual tension and fun situations.
716 reviews298 followers
March 1, 2022
I'm late to trying out Martha Waters because she's one of the newer HR authors with the cutesy covers and the too-high prices. But it was available recently for $1.99 so I downloaded it. As I started reading I was thinking hey this isn't bad. I was enjoying her writing style. Not especially period authentic but fun so that was okay. But the story degenerated rapidly. Ridiculous and unoriginal plot, cartoon characters and slower than snot plot advancement. Not that I cared for the plot to advance. I quit at about the 30% point. $1.99 down the drain, but then what can you buy for $1.99 nowadays anyway?
Profile Image for Madison.
420 reviews4,543 followers
May 11, 2022
3.5 stars
"It's a shame you were born a woman, Diana. You have the emotional range of most repressed English gentleman at your very core."

A fun regency romcom that is sure to put a smile on your face.

This book got me out of a reading slump and made me so happy. I wouldn't classify this book as a traditional historical romance because I found that it had a modern feel. I think that contemporary readers looking to get into the genre will really enjoy that aspect of it and have a lot of fun. This book is very sex-positive, which is not a theme I come across a lot in my HRs.

This book was hilarious. The banter between Jeremy and Diana had me rolling in bed and laughing-out-loud. I loved watching them interact because they are always quick to push each other's buttons and step on each other's toes. I would label their romance as frenemies-to-lovers because they have always had this undeniable attraction to one another, but they also purposely aggravate one another all the time. They can't help but exchange snarky comments and I found the little quips to be hilarious.

There is great female friendship in this between Diana, Violet, and Emily. Violet is the heroine of book one and she is madly in love throughout this novel. Emily is more demure and is the innocent of the group. Their dynamic was a lot of fun and I can't wait to see more of them together.

"Jeremy eyed Diana suspiciously as she spread jam upon a scone in what seemed to him an unnecessarily self-satisfied manner. He had never in his life felt such a definite feeling of doom while watching someone prepare a scone.
She had a plan, he was certain.
And he was equally certain that he was not going to like it one bit."

By the way, this is a best-friend's little sister romance! I adore this trope in my historical romances because it always involves a scene where the brother is acting all over-protective and then the heroine puts him in his place. I do wish we got to see a little more of Diana interacting with her brother, but it wasn't the end of the world.

Diana is also a widower, which is another favourite HR trope of mine. I like when the heroine is a widower because it means that she has more freedom in society and can be more flirtatious. For Diana, she wants to use being a widower to take on a lover - the only issue is she has no idea how to go about it. For all of Diana's confidence, she harbors a lot of self-doubt when it comes to romance. Diana takes a long time to let down her walls, but seeing her slowly become more and more vulnerable felt really special.

Jermey was a really interesting character because while he wasn't my favorite in the beginning, he grew on me really quickly. He is a sweet man at heart but puts on an aloof, rakish persona to hide that from everyone. Watching Diana teach Jeremy how to properly pleasure a woman is hilarious-because he is so sure that what he is doing is correct that he is taken aback by how little attention he pays to a woman's actual pleasure in the bedroom. The sizzling chemistry between the two of them was palpable.

I had to take off a star because there is an interaction that rubbed me the wrong way. Diana is entrusted with a secret and then the next scene she goes and blabs about it to her friends. What was shared was in confidence and it was a really damaging secret.

To Love and to Loathe is book two in The Regency Vows series. I usually find that historical romance series really need to be read in order, despite them being standalones. That wasn't the case with this book, luckily - because I had not read book one prior. That being said, I do believe you need to read book two before book three.

I cannot wait to go back and read book one, and I am eagerly awaiting book three (my money is on it being Emily's romance).
Profile Image for Hannah B..
745 reviews950 followers
April 14, 2022
✨Color me confused.✨

Am I irrationally angry that there was only one emotional and truly steamy scene in a book that promises an elicit entanglement spanning a fortnight? Very much so and I dare say I do believe it is a rather rational reaction. Seriously, there were two kissing scenes, one fumbling mess of a scene, and one touchdown. I’m sorry but in a book where I’m promised scoring, I don’t want just field goals. There is definitely tension, but it’s never truly smoothed out and I’m left wanting more. It felt like Lucy consistently pulling the football away from Charlie Brown at the last second. Pain!

Do I expect a husband and wife who’ve been in a four year fight to fall into bed right away? No. Do I expect a couple who makes a deal to literally have sex for two weeks straight to immediately swan dive between the sheets? Decidedly so. I think for this certain plot set-up, sex was a must in the first half of the book. I think it would have distinguished it from others on the shelf and made it unique.

Having the relationship between Diana and Jeremy start out as just sex (and denial) and then have it get messy and emotional would have been so much more fun. There is too much Diana trying to matchmake that it’s distracting because all I want is the two of them alone together and they’re being kept apart for no good reason, much to my exasperation. It also didn’t make much sense and had me vexed. No choices she presented or made throughout the book were logical and some were downright cruel. Much to my alarm, she told a secret that she had no right to tell. Jeremy knew how to keep his lips zipped. I think the author tried to frame it as “she likes to gossip” but it wasn’t okay nor appealing.

There was also a lot of distracting repetition of similar sentences (I noticed in book one as well). Like one paragraph would be talking about Violet faking consumption and then the three paragraphs later it would make use of synonyms and remind the reader again of the ruse. Did anyone else notice this?

I really am just baffled. I keep casting disgruntled glances at the book next to me, completely confused. What in the world happened in chapter 22? I didn’t mind what happened after said chapter, but I was just so not gruntled. I liked Jeremy and Diana for the most part, but I never felt like I truly got to know Jeremy. We got way more of Diana’s perspective and for most of the book it was exasperating.

I did enjoy parts of this one and I can see the appeal. I just think I was misled from the beginning. It felt super similar structurally and even character-wise to book one, except the resistance didn’t make as much sense and the characters weren’t as likable.

⭐️⭐️/5 🌶🌶.5/5
Profile Image for Chris  C - A Midlife Wife.
1,483 reviews261 followers
January 3, 2021
The mighty fall.
I think it will be tough for this author to follow up on her first book but this story is a wonderful addition to her series. With delightful characters that seem to come alive, they capitulate you right into the story.

Do you know those personalities that just love to pick on and annoy each other? Regardless if it’s a love or hate situation you know those types of people. In this story, the title speaks for itself.

Delightful banter, teasing, and manipulation to the extreme, (at one point Diana was even ticking me off), to the heated sexy realization that maybe they are right for each other. This book has everything packed into it with the emotional highs that you will love which carry you throughout the story.

Waters has created another awesome story that just touches your soul. With fabulous supporting characters, which we know from the first book, there’s got to be more books to come and I just can’t wait to see what else she dishes.

Witty, fun, sexy, and passionate, just a feel-good story all together.

* copy received for review consideration
Full Review - https://amidlifewife.com/to-love-and-...
April 6, 2021
Out today!

Okay....As you may remember, I had been sent a link to an e-galley for To Have and To Hoax late last year and almost passed it up because I had never read a historical romance before. Long story short I picked it up on a whim, devoured it in a day and have since went back to read different passages over and over again.

When I found out that this book was being written, I prowled the author's social media pages and NetGalley/Edelweiss for the day that I would be able to request this baby. BY SOME MAGIC I was approved right away and got down to business.

What I found was that I now completely swear by Martha Waters. I will read literally anything she puts out and you can quote me on that. I mean come on. Not only do I love her writing and characters and stories but she is ALSO a librarian. At this point we're basically kindred spirits, lol.

But in all honesty, this book was just.....so, so good. I really thought that not much could top her first book but this one truly did. While that one featured a second chance romance where the couple basically played a game with one another to get the other to notice again, and that sort of thing can be really appealing....it can also be kind of frustrating. We as the reader are getting both sides of their stories so we KNOW that they love each other still and we KNOW that what they're doing is so silly and pointless but until they both come to terms with that, we're just at the mercy of them getting their heads out of their asses.

THIS ONE THOUGH.....ahhhhh...."enemies" to lovers. This trope will forever hold a special place in my heart. As we saw in To Have and to Hoax, Diana, the young widow who is close friends with Violet, has bet Jeremy, Marquess of Willingham, and James's good friend 100 pounds that he will get married within a year. The two have forever been "at odds," always at each others throats with a quick witticism or jab to be thrown into what could easily have been a civil conversation.

One day, Jeremy comes to call on Diana with a most embarrassing issue. After sleeping with a married man's wife, he had been accused of certain shortcomings within the bedroom and proposes that Diana with her no-bullshit attitude (and the fact that she's a widow) might help him figure out if there was any truth to the woman's angry words. She reluctantly agrees seeing as that might open the door for her to future lovers (and maybe partly because she MAY have always thought him to be extremely attractive). It all goes down during a country house party that Jeremy has every year.

Between their STEAMY AS HELL encounters, Diana trying to set him up with one Lady Helen (who seems deplorable but also....maybe isn't?), us learning more about the "true" Jeremy and Diana...there was no lacking in ANYTHING. It was funny, it was emotional, it was hot, it gave me butterflies. I loved every single page, sentence, and paragraph, of this book and am now pining for more, more, more. Martha, please tell me that we get an EmilyxBelfry book, a SophiexWest book, and maybe even one for Penvale??? I'll all eyes and ears, lol. :) 100% would recommend.

Huge thanks to NetGalley and Atria Books for a change to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review.

For more of my reviews, please visit:

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Profile Image for Iris.
231 reviews14 followers
April 26, 2021
I wasn't thrilled with how long the "hoax" lasted in book 1 - To Have And To Hoax, but the veneer of decency—in particular that of the heroine Diana and her friends (though hero wasn't far behind) began to crack even earlier in this one. By the time Diana promised to keep another woman's very serious secret and then almost instantly blabbed about it to her friends I was done. No amount of (very)mildly amusing banter was enough to save the book. These just aren't very nice people.
Profile Image for eyes.2c.
2,365 reviews44 followers
April 3, 2021
Regency romp

A bet, a house party, a philandering Marquess, and a not so Merry Widow. Lady Diana Templeton had fought battles with handsome rake and scoundrel Jeremy Overington, the Marquess of Willingham, since she was a child. Their latest scrimmage is a bet that Diana takes with Jeremy that he’ll be married before the year's out (even if she has to parade every young woman she knows before him, or have him caught in a compromising position.)
A disgruntled remark thrown at Jeremy by his last mistress as he disappeared from her life had him reviewing his performance as a lover. Meanwhile, determined never to marry again the widowed Diana is wondering if she should indeed take a lover. When Jeremy inquires about her openness to a liaison between the two of them, there’s an emphatic No! and a reconsidered Maybe!
All the marks of an excellent regency romp, with a wonderful grandmother to the Marquess who was so delightful I'd wished she'd been even more front and center, a rather desperate single woman who frequently strikes the wrong note, and whom Diana sees as the perfect opportunity for her to win her bet with Jeremy, and friends whose lives have visceral ups and downs.
I’m a tad nonplussed by Diana’s terrible maid Toogood. I can't decide if she's the perfect maid for Diana or if she have other uses. But as Diana muses, "It was refreshing to know exactly what one’s help thought of one, rather than having to guess."
And then there’s Diana’s painting abilities, a well kept secret.
There’s a whole lot thrumming along in the background, various relationship circling around, the buzzing so busy that it runs the risk of impinging on the main story in a distracting sort of way.
A pleasant romp with some great lines that never quite achieved the peaks it sought, or even ought.

An Atria Books ARC via NetGalley
Please note: Quotes taken from an advanced reading copy maybe subject to change
Profile Image for Nursebookie.
1,986 reviews304 followers
June 4, 2021
For those of us that need a little bit of romance to satisfy our Regency cravings, Martha Waters has the perfect cure to indulge and satisfy.

What starts out as a game, then a dare, the widowed Lady Templeton cannot help herself with Jeremy, the Marquess of Willingham, most especially when Jeremy asks for help to save his reputation.

I enjoyed the witty and cheeky banter, flirtations, and their sizzling chemistry. Diana and Jeremy got more than what they bargained for in this wonderful English high society wagers and proposition your hearts will swoon over.

I really enjoyed this one and read well as a stand alone.
Profile Image for Carvanz.
2,039 reviews691 followers
March 13, 2021
Oh my gosh! This book, with all it’s originality in a genre that can be repetitive at times, was absolutely wonderful!

I adore a friends-to-lovers trope so I was instantly interested in this one after reading the blurb. There is no way I could have known how unique this story was going to be. With a hero and heroine that didn’t hesitate to say what was on their minds to each other. I was gobbling up the banter between them as fast as I could.

Once Diana had been married and soon widowed, she really came into herself. She embraced the freedom her place in society gave her and along with it came the opportunity to accept a scandalous proposition. Gah! I love scandalous propositions! And I loved Diana. She was bold and feisty, never hesitating to speak her opinion. She was exactly what Jeremy needed.

I struggled just a tad with Jeremy’s reason for the proposition. After all, here’s a man who has been horn-dogging around for years and the premise didn’t feel authentic for either him or Diana. However, I’m a lenient reader and I pushed that aside and had no trouble at all embracing everything else about these characters and the plot.

With secondary characters that I became just as invested in as Jeremy and Diana, I was pulled completely into the story. The laugh out loud moments were frequent, the chemistry believable and absolutely sizzled when this hero and heroine were alone together, and the ending absolutely perfect.

This is my second book by this author and I’m finding her writing to be fresh and original. These are not your typical historical romances. With characters that feel very modern in their behavior and beliefs, they, nonetheless, still fit very well in the historical setting where they’ve been created giving this a new, edgy feel. I love it!

Dual POV
Profile Image for PlotTrysts.
556 reviews160 followers
April 23, 2021
We loved this book. The setup sounds hilarious: Jeremy is a typical HistRom rake who recently got some not-so-stellar feedback on his performance. To reassure himself that he's actually not all that bad in bed AND to take advantage of the persistent attraction between him and one of his longtime acquaintances, Diana, he proposes a friends with benefits situation. Diana decides that the benefits do sound enticing, so she agrees that they can start their FWB sitch at Jeremy's annual house party. (Side note: don't house parties sound great? It's like a vacation home with all your buddies except you're so rich you can pay for people to make your food and clean the rental.)

What really sets this book apart, though, is the critical eye Martha Waters casts on male privilege and communication skills in relationships. Of course we are reading this through a historical lens, but sometimes using that lens can allow us to see our own era more clearly. Great emphasis is placed on the facades women assume to succeed in their one lifepath (marriage), with a similar focus on the veneer of masculinity. This is exactly what we want out of Historical Romance: a fun story, a real romantic connection between the main characters, with a nuanced exploration of social issues that can be applied to the "real world" as well. We were entertained, impressed, and completely satisfied with the conclusion.

14-Word Summaries:

Laine: Jeremy was too poor for Diana in her first season, but she's widowed now.⁠

Meg: After some not-so-stellar feedback on his “performance,” rake asks his crush/enemy for “advice.”⁠

This objective review is based on a complimentary advanced reader copy of the novel.
Profile Image for Lisa Wolf.
1,608 reviews173 followers
April 2, 2021
To Love and To Loathe is author Martha Waters’s follow up to last year’s To Have and To Hoax, and I’m happy to report that the fun is back!

In TH&TH (sorry, I just can’t handle typing the titles over and over again), the story focused on a married couple Violet and James, and their love-match-turned-hate-match… and what came next. As part of the story, we also met the closest friends of the estranged couple, and here in TL&TL, two of their friends take center stage.

Lady Diana, in her mid-twenties, is a wealthy widow who has no need for a husband in order to live well. Six years earlier, in her first social season, she was desperate to marry, having been raised on the charity of an aunt and uncle. Diana was forced to be decidedly mercenary in her approach to the marriage market, much to the amusement of Jeremy, Lord Willingham, who couldn’t see beyond the surface to understand Diana’s true circumstances.

Years later, Jeremy has a confirmed reputation as a rake, seducing a steady stream of willing married women, enjoying sexual flings and remaining completely unavailable emotionally. But now that Jeremy, a second son, has inherited the family title that should have gone to his late brother, the family expects him to settle down and live up to his responsibilities. Jeremy is one of Diana’s brother’s closest friends, and Jeremy and Diana have bantered and bickered their entire lives.

But now, as adults with more at stake, there’s the potential that they could help each other out. Jeremy’s darling masculine ego has been dealt a blow by his most recent mistress, and Diana is thinking of expanding her social engagements to possibly include a lover. They agree to liaise at Jeremy’s upcoming country house party, where there will be time and opportunity for late-night dalliances.

I don’t think it’s at all a spoiler to say that Jeremy and Diana quickly discover that there’s more to their connection than friendship and banter. Their sexual spark is connected to emotions that bubble up as they spend time together, and they each must face the fact that there’s more on the line than just their bedroom connection.

Of course, there are complications, including another single young woman introduced as a possible future bride for Jeremy, but who harbors her own set of surprises. Violet and James are in attendance at the party, as is Emily, the 3rd member of Violet and Diana’s close friendship circle. I’d guess that if there’s a book #3 (and I hope there will be!), we’ll finally focus on Emily’s sad romantic situation and see her find true love too.

To Love and To Loathe is a fun, clever historical romance, and while some of the complications seemed a little more drawn-out than strictly needed, it’s quite an entertaining read. I really enjoyed the characters’ banter, as well as the witty/snarky/innuendo-laden moments.

With Willingham, at the moment, it seemed that little effort would have to be expended in the seduction. He was directing his charm at her so forcefully that she was surprised her legs hadn’t fallen open of their own accord.

“Do remove yourself from my settee, Willingham,” she said briskly, proceeding to rearrange her skirts with such gusto that the man had no choice but to retreat to an armchair to avoid the risk of suffocation by muslin.

And a favorite:

For heaven’s sake, it was breakfast time. She hadn’t known that thoughts this inappropriate were possible this early in the day.

If you’re looking for a light, romantic escape with charming characters, definitely check out To Have and To Hoax AND To Love and To Loathe. (TL&TL works just fine on its own, but might as well read them both!)

Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley. Full review at Bookshelf Fantasies.
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