Review: To Have and to Hoax by Martha Waters


Title: To Have and to Hoax 
Author:  Martha Waters
Date of publication: 7 Apr 2020
Genre / Themes: Historical Romance / Marriage in trouble / Romcom

Author's links: Website / Twitter / Instagram / Goodreads

My rating: 4 Stars


In this fresh and hilarious historical rom-com, an estranged husband and wife in Regency England feign accidents and illness in an attempt to gain attention—and maybe just win each other back in the process.

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?


This is a delightful historical romcom, a solid debut by Martha Waters. It's a marriage in trouble plot and the MCs have been estranged for four! years after they had a fight. There is a also ridiculous game of pretend she starts as a way to make him show his feelings for her. It is not something that should work for me on paper but in reality, it was great fun, whimsical and light-hearted but also going deep into issues of family, marriage, intimacy. 

The writing is engaging and clever, the humour worked great for me and overall the story felt rich and very atmospheric. 

The main conflict in the story, a massive row that left Violet and Audley barely speaking to each other for four! years, could have been easily resolved with an honest conversation. It felt like they have wasted four years over nothing, and all their friends agree with me but at the same time it didn't bother me as much as I expected because of them never being in denial about their feelings and then when their game of pretend began they quickly saw through it and went on pretending while admitting their feelings to themselves (and each other eventually).

Audley is the uptight, highly determined and focused, a white knight in shining armour kind of herop (my catnip basically) who is madly in love with his wife but he is really incapable to talk about his feelings, admitting he made the wrong assumption was very difficult for him. Violet is flirty and frivolous, smart and curious and energetic and absolutely loved her. 

They have a turbulent relationship, they have to work on being more open, more trusting, need to find a way to be together but I can see they both want it and ready to put in the effort, so I can see them work as a couple in the long term and that is what got me over their stubbornness and stupidity to cling to their anger for four! years.

I love their tight circles of close friends and can't wait to read more books in the series featuring them. 

I would recommend this book with the caveat that the main conflict is based on a misunderstanding that could have been easily resolved if the MCs just talked to each other. 

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