To Have And To Hoax by Martha Waters.

In Regency era London, Lady Violet has become estranged from her dashing husband Lord Audley, but when she receives word that he has been thrown from his horse and lies dangerously hurt, she rushes to his side… only to find him with his friends at a tavern. Angry and embarrassed, Violet decides to get back at her husband by pretending to have contracted a grave illness, and maybe get him back in her life in the process.

To Have And To Hoax is a fun romp. There are many people who grew up on Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and other romances of this era, and there are many modern romances set in this time period too. This book feels like a loving homage to all of these books. It has a dashing hero and an intelligent heroine who just can’t quite get it right because though they belong together, they are incredibly stubborn. They’re joined by a nice supporting cast who are witty and insightful and have subplots of their own that perhaps the author intends to explore further in future books. There are also some dastardly types, plenty of tea and a few waltzes thrown in.

The book sets itself up for us as being a romantic comedy, in style, with the battle of wills of the two leads leading them to ridiculous behaviour as they try to outdo each other and fake each other out. I liked these parts and wished, as the book went on, that there were more of these and the humour built up a little more. As it goes on, it becomes a more conventional romance, and the end felt a little over long and drawn out at the end. It became a little melodramatic as one character has to make all the changes and growth, and the other flounces out of the room.

But that’s pretty common for romantic novel endings. They are, after all, a fantasy. This is not the kind of book that I normally come across and read, but it was really fun. I liked the two leads, I liked the world they lived in and their friends, and I wondered what the big fight was that kept them apart. It was really fun, romantic, sexy and didn’t take itself too seriously. I think if you love Mr Darcy and Elizabeth, and like a bit of melodrama that’s not trying to be anything it’s not, then this book is for you. I think in a very serious world, stories like these are a really nice world to escape into.

Read It If: you like Austen or historical romances, or are looking for something fun and sexy to read.

Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada for sending me an advance copy of this book for review. All opinions are my own, honest thoughts.

To Have And To Hoax is out April 7

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