ARC Review: To Love and to Loathe by Martha Waters

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. 

Now that I think a bit after finishing this book, I realize that I haven’t actually read a romance novel in almost four months. And it has mostly been because I seem to have totally lost interest in reading anything contemporary. But today, I was just in the mood for some love and decided it was better to choose a historical romance instead and it was definitely a better decision.

I haven’t read the previous book by the author and I have no idea if the two are companion pieces, but I had no trouble understanding the world this was set in and all the important players. The author is good at writing banter full of tension and humor, and I was really looking forward to the conversations, not just between Diana and Jeremy, but between the side characters as well. I liked how both of them were not afraid to go toe to toe with each other, whether verbally or in bed and it made for an interesting dynamic. The author also has written good female friendships, and I particularly was pleased to see her avoid pitting two women against each other. Jeremy’s grandma was another colorful character and I was truly hoping she had more of a role to play coz she was loads of fun.

This was an overall fun and entertaining romance and probably just the right thing I needed to take my mind off other things in my life. It’s always nice to see intelligent and independent thinking women characters in historical romances and I think this couple are well matched in that sense. While the sexual tension was there, I just wish there was more to convince that they were actually in love. As a very rare reader of this genre, I would probably keep a lookout for the author’s next work, because it just might be the perfect one based on my mood. 

PS: Thank you to Atria Books and Netgalley for providing me with this advance copy. All opinions expressed here are unbiased and solely mine.

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