Review: To Love and to Loathe by Martha Waters


Title: To Love and to Loathe
Author: Martha Waters
Date of publication: 6 Apr 2021
Genre / Themes: Historical Romance / Romcom

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

My rating: 4.5 Stars


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.


I loved the first book in the series, To Love and to Hoax, and this was just as good - light-hearted and funny m/f historical romance with a serious core.

This romance features a house party and a marriage, frenemies-to-lovers and it all worked great for me. There is also lovely minor f/f subplot. I appreciate how queer relationships were discussed in the text, no homophobia but easy acceptance instead. Initially I was worried about the representation of the marriage obsessed over-eager noble lady and how misogynistic it came across but I am happy to say that the truth about her turned out to be rather different and I loved it.

I really liked a lot of the story elements, besides the romance - the exploration of roles of men and women in Victorian society, how they play them and can use them to subvert the norms, how power and freedom intersect. I liked seeing both the men and women carving a place for their happiness in a very strictly regulated world. The story says a lot about the masks people wear in society and how the real person behind the mask can be much more interesting and real.

Both MCs were wonderful in their own way. Diana and Jeremy are both currently in a situation of privilege but also aware of it and trying to use it to care for themselves and for others.

Very much like the first book in the series, there is a strong element of playfulness here, Diana and Jeremy expressing their feelings for each other through pushing each other's button, lots of witty banter and play pretend.

I loved the element in their intimacy where she teaches him how to give her pleasure. There was fun and joking in the bedroom but also deeply honest and somewhat awkward conversations around pleasure and desire.

The ending felt a bit rushed and his proposal was too public for my taste though I have to admit it was a good fit for them.

I loved the glimpses of Emily and Belfry and can't wait for their (I hope) story.

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