cover image To Love and to Loathe

To Love and to Loathe

Martha Waters. Atria, $16.99 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-1-982160-87-6

Waters’s irresistibly irreverent second Regency Vows romance (after To Have and to Hoax) pairs young widow Diana Bourne with Jeremy Overington, the Marquess of Willingham, an infamous rake with whom she’s always sparred at society functions. Their rivalry escalates when Diana wagers that Jeremy will be married within a year, planning to use Jeremy’s upcoming house party as an opportunity to hurl eligible ladies at him. But when Jeremy, seeking reassurance about his prowess as a lover after a bad review, requests that Diana join him in a brief, educational affair, the two must confront what their increasing intimacy means for their bet—and their relationship. Hero and heroine alike are delightfully unsentimental, and Waters takes obvious glee in prodding at genre conventions. (Notes Diana, “It was of course incumbent on every aristocratic man to have at least a somewhat tortured relationship with his own father.”) This winking awareness is used to great effect during the lovers’ first romp, when Diana does not immediately convulse with pleasure and instead must school Jeremy on his technique. This dynamic is such fun that it’s almost a shame when Diana and Jeremy’s feelings deepen and the plot becomes more conventional, but the journey to their happy ending is worth every step. [em]Agent: Taylor Haggerty, Root Literary. (Apr.) [/em]