To Have and to Hoax by Martha Waters was such an adorable and entertaining Regency rom-com that served as a perfect distraction from everything going on in the world right now. I really enjoyed this debut novel and finished it in 2 days because I didn’t want to put it down.
Five years ago, Lady Violet Grey and Lord James Audley met on a balcony while attending a ball, fell in love instantly, and were married shortly after. One year later, their passionate romance abruptly turns cold and detached after an awful fight that keeps them from speaking to one another for four years.
One day, Violet receives a letter from her husband’s friend stating that he has sustained an injury from falling off of a horse at the family stables, and is currently unconscious. Violet is naturally worried about her husband and his condition and immediately sets off to see him at the hospital. Along the way, she stops at a tavern and runs into James and his friends where he is 1) appearing perfectly healthy, 2) completely unaware that she was alerted about his fall, 3) not at all bothered by the trouble this has caused her and 4) having the audacity to tell her that the matter didn’t concern her.
Naturally, this does not help their already distant relationship and her husbands reaction inspires Violet to teach him a lesson by feigning an illness and even going as far as to get her friends in on the charade as well as hire a fake physician to diagnose her. James sees right through Violet’s scheme and the two of them spend majority of the book trying to out do one another in seeing who can piss the other person off more.
Through all of the manipulation, we discover that James and Violet might not actually hate each other as much as they thought they did and the reader is taken on a wild ride to see if these two will either continue to torture one another by denying that they are meant for each other, or will find a way to break down their walls and work together to move past the last four hurtful years of their marriage.
Martha Waters did a great job at balancing this elaborate and witty storyline with ongoing charm and delight. The character development was well done too- it was hard not to fall in love with the mess that was Violet and James and root for their reunion the entire story. Violet and James’ characters were both relatable in many ways and I loved being able to watch them mature throughout the book and hold one another, as well as themselves, accountable for where they made mistakes in their relationship. At times, I personally felt that their issues and the manipulation of one another was dragged out a little and resulted in a story that was a little longer than needed, but I enjoyed this book overall.
If you’re a fan of rom-coms, or even just looking for a quick, light hearted read that will keep you laughing throughout the entire story, To Have and to Hoax is a great choice! Thank you so much to Atria Books for providing me with this eARC via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review 🤗
BEER RECOMMENDATION: To Have and to Hoax by Martha Waters is best paired with Honey Lavender Hard Cider by Wyndridge Cider Co. This delicious cider is steeped with lavender sprigs, resulting in a light, sweet and crisp drink with notes of honey, lavender and raspberries.