To Love and to Loathe by Martha Waters

To Love and to Loathe Book Cover To Love and to Loathe
The Regency Vows (Book 2)
Martha Waters
Regency Romance
Atria Books
April 6, 2021
ebook, audiobook, paperback
352

The author of the “hilarious...joyful, elegant” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) To Have and to Hoax returns with an effervescent, charming, and swoon-worthy novel about a man and woman who never agree on anything—until they agree to a no-strings-attached affair in this Regency-era romp.

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.

With Martha Waters’s signature “cheeky charm and wonderfully wry wit” (Booklist, starred review), To Love and to Loathe is another clever and delightful historical rom-com that is perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Evie Dunmore.

“Busy ladies had no time to dwell on kisses.” — To Love and to Loathe

To Love and to Loathe by Martha Waters is beguiling in the best of ways. Completely charming from the first page, I immediately got lost in the pages and found it hard to say goodbye.

Diana is a woman who not only knows what she wants, but will stop at nothing to achieve her goals. Jeremy is the friend of Diana’s older brother. He is also an impossible rake and determined to win every verbal sparring contest he and Diana enter into. To Love and to Loathe reads like a combination of the matchmaking schemes of Jane Austen’s Emma, with the banter and obliviousness of feelings of Pride and Prejudice.

What surprised me the most is that even though Jeremy and Diana have always been at odds with each other, they both hold a great deal of respect for the other. Simple banter turns into a wager as to when Jeremy will find himself a wife. Diana becomes determined, and Jeremy equally so. When Jeremy finds himself in need of some reassurance of his bedroom skills, he takes it upon himself to solicit Diana to help him. They both agree to terms that guard their hearts and reputations, but when Jeremy’s Grandmother starts to scheme in order to help Diana win her bet, both Jeremy and Diana begin to realize that their feelings run deeper than what they had thought.

Watching Diana and Jeremy’s chess match of a relationship play out was wrought with romantic tension. The chemistry together was full of combustible energy, which made the culmination of their story really and truly a Happily Ever After. The one point of To Love and to Loathe that I felt was slightly off for me, was when one of the characters entrusts another with keeping a secret that would be in the height of scandal for the time. Unfortunately, that secret is not kept, and while that particular plot device was never resolved, it struck a weird chord for me.

Overall, I truly enjoyed To Love and to Loathe. I loved the setting, the vibrancy of the surrounding characters, and every interaction between Jeremy and Diana. If you love historical romance, specifically Regency Romance, then do not miss out on this one!

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