Review: To Have and to Hoax by Martha Waters

When I was pitched this novel, I was in love with the concept and thought it sounded so charming and sweet. But it wasn’t until the book actually arrived in my mailbox that I was so ready to start it.

The cover is outstanding and totally matches the sweet rom-com that is written inside of the eye catching wrapping! I couldn’t wait to start reading it and more or less put everything else I was reading on hold to dive into this one.

That bright purple cover just kept calling my name from my nightstand begging to be read! I couldn’t deny it any longer—I had to start it!


Five years ago, Lady Violet Grey and Lord James Audley met, fell in love, and got married. Four years ago, they had a fight to end all fights, and have barely spoken since.

Their once-passionate love match has been reduced to one of cold, detached politeness. But when Violet receives a letter that James has been thrown from his horse and rendered unconscious at their country estate, she races to be by his side—only to discover him alive and well at a tavern, and completely unaware of her concern. She’s outraged. He’s confused. And the distance between them has never been more apparent.

Wanting to teach her estranged husband a lesson, Violet decides to feign an illness of her own. James quickly sees through it, but he decides to play along in an ever-escalating game of manipulation, featuring actors masquerading as doctors, threats of Swiss sanitariums, faux mistresses—and a lot of flirtation between a husband and wife who might not hate each other as much as they thought. Will the two be able to overcome four years of hurt or will they continue to deny the spark between them?

With charm, wit, and heart in spades, To Have and To Hoax is a fresh and eminently entertaining romantic comedy—perfect for fans of Jasmine Guillory and Julia Quinn. (summary from Goodreads


I completely agree with this summary, if you enjoy Julia Quinn you will love this book, but I would also say that this book would appeal to fans or rom coms as well, not just historical fiction. This book was so funny and I found myself laughing at numerous points in the story. Sure there were times when both James and Violet got on my nerves, but for me it felt intentional. I think the author truly meant for the reader to feel like the friends of couple—sympathetic to each character but yet dying for them to reconcile and be together once again.

And that’s exactly how I felt, eager to see them together. The chemistry between Violet and James was charged and electric. I loved them together and their shared passion for one another. I also loved watching the four year long standoff slowly dissolve into a truce that was tender and vulnerable. Their reasons for not being together fit well for each character and the revenge plots were a gold mine of comedy.

This novel had a lot to love about it. I was hooked from the beginning and not only did I love James and Violet, I found the secondary characters equally well developed without eclipsing the main story and characters. In fact when this book was done, I was hoping that the other characters might get their own romances in the future because I think there is certainly enough there to bring fans of this book back into the world the author has created.

For me this book felt a lot more young and hip than perhaps some of Julia Quinn’s books. Don’t get me wrong I love Julia Quinn, but this book felt a lot more fresh, and more for a younger audience. I don’t mean like a YA novel, I mean more like a mid twenties to mid thirties. I think anyone who loves historical romances would love this book but I think the demographic target would be mid twenties to mid thirties.

I was truly impressed with the author’s writing and skill level as this is her debut novel. The steamy bits were full of heat but not in an over the top fashion, the tender romance between the two characters fit well, and the comedy was fantastic. I would love to see this one become a film because it has all the right ingredients!

Book Info and Rating

Paperback, 352 pages
Expected publication: April 7th 2020 by Atria Books
ISBN 1982136111 (ISBN13: 9781982136116)
Free review copy provided by publisher, Atria Books, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 4.5 stars
Genre: historical fiction, romance



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