Book Review – To Have and to Hoax

Martha Waters – 2.5/5 Stars

Read this if you:
· love the Friends reference “they don’t know that we know they know we know they know
· enjoy historical romance
· can put aside your annoyance with the main characters to enjoy the banter of the supporting ones

Five years ago, Lord James Audley met Lady Violet Gray and was so smitten, they were married almost immediately. One year later, they had a fight that took their passionate marriage and turned it into one that was cold and loveless. When Violet receives a letter that James has been injured at their country estate, she rushes over to be by his side, only to be chastised by him for being overly concerned for his well being. Wanting to teach him a lesson, she feigns illness. James quickly sees through her plan and decides to play along in a never-ending game of deceit and manipulation, one that they find is actually more fun than their previous years of silent indifference. Will the two be able to see that there is still a spark between them and work to rekindle the old flame after four years of distance between them?

My thoughts on the book: 
As a lover of Bridgerton, I thought this book would be right up my alley but it really did not hit for me (maybe I’m just a Duke of Hastings lover?). The storyline was repetitive and annoying and the characters both went to extreme lengths to get each other’s attention when they really just needed to sit down and have a conversation to solve all of their problems (my least favourite romance novel trope).
I found the supporting characters to be much more likeable than the main ones. I actually enjoyed reading the scenes involving Violet and her friends, and I found their banter to be entertaining but for the most part, any interaction between her and James made me cringe. I felt like the beginning of the book should have set up their marriage better so the reader knew what they were “fighting for”, but we just jump ahead to four years later where they are already at odds with each other. At that point, the characters allude to an “incident” that happened four years prior and it takes forever for the reader to be let in on the secret of what happened even though it’s mentioned incessantly. Not knowing much about their relationship from the beginning, I found myself not really caring about whether they ended up together or not.

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