Book Review – To Love and to Loathe by Martha Waters

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Sigh. It seems that I shall never fall in love with Martha Water’s novels and that’s because *throws up my hands* they’re so aggravating. I, for one, do not enjoy shouting “but why would you do that?” but alas, somehow it always comes to that, and I’m tired, okay?

On how conflict is badly manufactured

For a moment there, I thought that I’d enjoy this one more than To Have and to Hoax, because I genuinely liked Diana and Jeremy’s dynamics at first. It’s a shame, really, because there are many things this book almost does well : Diana is independent and funny, for the most part. Jeremy is charming, he listens. The discussion on sex and pleasure is good. They have chemistry together. But why, why must everyone in this be so damn set on dragging situations that don’t deserve to go on more than half a page, so much that I wanted to stop reading?

I have a confession to make : I had to skim parts because I just – I couldn’t stand them. Diana’s antics regarding Jeremy’s marriage made no sense, her deception went for far too long, and irritated the hell out of me. Why put so much effort in complicating one own life? WHY? I’m begging to understand! I’m so mad at them for ruining such a great chemistry. So mad.

There’s nothing more frustrating than characters systematically choosing the worst option available – worst than that, even: too many times it felt like Diana and Jeremy would look at the choices available, stare at the worst one, and then twist it to create a new situation so idiotic and unnecessarily cruel that you reader can’t even begin to comprehend how the thought was even allowed to form in their mind. Honestly, reading To Love and to Loathe feels like gaslighting at times : you’re sure you’re not the one overreacting but the characters keep trying to convince you that their reactions are perfectly fine, when it’s clear they’re not. To keep the plot going, these characters do a 180 and take decisions that just don’t make any sense at all, and as it’s something I found really infuriating in To Have to Hoax too, I’m sorry but I’m starting to think that it comes from bad craft.

Other things I didn’t like: a non-exhaustive list

  • Jeremy’s emphasis on Diana’s breast : we get it!!!!
  • The tone is all over the place, and it feels like the book doesn’t know what it wants to be ;
  • Too much time spent on secondary characters I could never manage to care about. I feel ashamed because I usually love friendship between women but here I just found their conversations very grating ;
  • At some point Violet (!!!) of all people gives relationship advice and excuse me? The audacity of that woman, I can’t even.
  • One character isn’t who they appear to be and that was obvious from the start, yet Diana and Jeremy, those fools, are so wrapped in themselves that they don’t even realize.
  • So many of Diana’s decisions – especially in regards to Jeremy’s marriage – seem to come out of spite and having read The Day of the Duchess recently, the comparison is inevitable, and not in Diana’s favor.

But the most infuriating part was when Violet outed a lesbian character to her friends and to Jeremy, for no reasons at all. The fuck? I couldn’t believe she’d be so self-centered that she’d go there but apparently she wanted to crush any leftover sympathy I had for her. Again, it was so unnecessarily cruel and selfish!

– Bottom line –

I’ve said I’d give Martha Waters’ novels another chance. Sadly, it’s a miss, and we’ll have to part ways. I shall stay firmly in the minority on this. For real, though? I need to stop writing now or I’ll remove another star *slowly takes a step back*.

About To love and to Loathe
Author : Martha Waters | Publisher : Atria Books | Genre : Historical Romance | Pages : 384

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.

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