Tuesday, February 16, 2021

To Have and to Hoax by Martha Waters


TO HAVE AND TO HOAX gave me a veritable rollercoaster ride of reactions. When I picked this book up, I was like, "Wow, this is so witty and well-written, I can't believe it has such a low rating!" And then I was like, "Okay, this pranking is a little silly and I'm really curious what they were fighting about, and it's more witty than ha ha funny, but I'm still feeling it." And then I was like, "Okay, FINALLY! A kiss!" And then I was like, "But seriously, why are you still fighting? Literally no emotional progress has been made and we're over half-way through the book." And then I was like, "Three quarters of the book and I still want to shake you people and ask why your mother never taught you how to love (dee dee dee dee dee dee)." And then I got to the end of the book and was very, very tired.

This is the story of James and Violet. They were married because Violet was compromised on a balcony (ironically, with a different man-- James was only there to step in as rescuer). Since they both had an instant chemistry with witty banter, neither of them particularly minded this and it was a happy marriage-- until it wasn't. After something Violet refers to as The Argument, they both basically stopped speaking to one another unless absolutely necessary, neither of them willing to cross the deep freeze of their own home because that would be a violation of the Stiff Upper Lip Act of 1386 or something. I don't know.

The pranking really isn't as prevalent or pervasive as the summary led me to believe. The bulk of this book is the couple missing each other and arguing and dancing around the Big Misunderstanding (which made sense what I learned what it was but was still disappointing because they IMMEDIATELY repeat their mistakes after they finally talk about it and start fighting again over very similar pretenses). I buddy read this with my friend Heather, and she brought up a very good point, I thought, that a lot of what the couple has is purely physical-based. They don't have much of an emotional connection, apart from an apparent fetish for bickering that easily gets out of hand and turns nasty (and no, not in a fun way). So without that trust, I guess it makes sense why jest quickly turns to emotional daggers, but at the same time, this is never really met with closure. Even James's major grovel is a grand gesture DONE BEHIND VIOLET'S BACK which she has made it clear she has an issue with, so it's like he's hearing her, but he's also not really hearing her if you know what I mean. What a disaster.

The sex scenes in this book were quite hot and it was written with a breezy, bantery style that kind of reminded me of Tessa Dare's, but the constant cheeky winks to the reader and the fact that so many of these arguments quickly became tiresome and circuitous made this a wearing read. I'm interested in the sequels featuring the other couples-- especially West's book, I loved him-- but I wouldn't read this again and I can finally understand why so many people met this with a rather lukewarm response.

3 out of 5 stars

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.