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To Love and to Loathe by Martha Waters (Atria)

“But she has no time for these dangerous thoughts-she had a scheme to enact, a dowager marchioness to thwart, and a marquess to make miserable.  In short, she was busy.  Busy ladies had no time to dwell on kisses.”

April 6, 2021

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

Do regency romance novels ring a bell? If I remember correctly, this sub genre was brought to your attention by author Lauren Layne when she wrote to you about her favorite comfort read back in February of 2020.  I have to admit, it has been awhile since I have sunk my teeth into one of these juicy romances set in the early nineteenth century, but after Bridgerton took the world by storm on Netflix this past winter, regency romances are back on center stage.  To Love and To Loathe by Martha Waters is out today and its flirty, fresh and everything in between.  An easy-peasy lemon-squeezy read is the best way to kick off spring in my opinion and Water’s latest historical rom-com will have you smiling from ear to ear.

“She did not wish for much in life-a comfortable house, an extensive wardrobe, and a plentiful supply of paint and canvas were all she really asked for.  But the sensation of winning a wager against Willingham?  Yes, she would admit to wanting that rather badly.”

Welcome to high society where the widowed Diana, Lady Templeton and Jeremy, Marquess of Willingham are center stage.  These two “friends” turn an argument at a ball into a full on wager.  Diana will turn over one hundred pounds if “playboy” Jeremy marries within the year.  Shortly after, Jeremy brings another proposal to Diana.  He recently received a harsh review of his bedroom skills from his last mistress.  He asks Diana to embark in a brief dalliance with him at his house party at Elderwild, his country estate.  During this affair, Diana can offer him some “constructive” criticism of his intimate most moves, while providing him with a much needed confidence boost. In addition, word will get out that Diana, the independent widow, is open to more interludes herself.  What sounds like a win win situation becomes more complicated as the banter, flirtation and romping intensifies. As Jeremy’s competence in the bedroom becomes oh so promising and Diana’s desire for independence dwindles, the two of them must decide how to proceed when the house party fun comes to an end.

“Jeremy was a man of simple pleasures: a glass of brandy, a hard ride on a horse, a good round of boxing at Gentleman Jackson’s, a tumble with a willing woman.  None of these occupations provided him with expertise that he generally had much cause to call upon, but in that moment, he knew one thing with the utmost certainty:  that moan had not been one of pain, but of pleasure.”

Here is my take.  To Love and To Loathe is an opulent tale that is sparkly and bright.   Who doesn’t love a fiery kiss against a ginormous tree with a gorgeous man who just dismounted his sweaty horse.  Don’t be afraid to raise your hand…mine is way up high. I am talking callous hands cupping your face, a few nibbles on your neck, hair askew, dress ruffled in all the right places, and panting from the sheer thrill of getting caught….you get my drift.   Place this scenario in the early 1800s on a grassy estate with nosy maids lingering around every corner and a few two a.m. booty calls (very classy mind you), and you have the key ingredients to a regency romance. 

Water’s story has a gorgeous atmosphere bubbling over with schemes and desire.  One thing I adored was how forward thinking the women in her book were during this male dominated time.  Waters weaved in contemporary themes of love, relationships and independence in a vivacious way.  Instead of keeping her innermost thoughts and desires stifled out of ear of polite society, her female protagonist expressed them using a paintbrush on canvas and in the bedroom with her “Misteress”, Jeremy.   I absolutely love the evolving relationship between Diana and Jeremy.  Their constant wordplay with one another and coy foreplay left me short of breath. The plot was straightforward, but the main characters’ pasts and individual hankering for intimacy and love kept me not only intrigued, but highly entertained.  To Love and to Loathe is a quick and chucklesome read that is heartfelt and down right a blast.  I hope this book brings you as much joy as it brought me.

Happy reading dear friend.

Your Biggest Fan,

Kelly

P.S. To Love and to Loathe is book #2 in The Regency Vows series.  Book one is called To Have and To Hoax.  I did not read the first book in this series, but will happily tell you that book #2 works perfectly well as a stand alone. I of course am running to get the first book posthaste!!!

Click on the book pic to purchase!

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