Oof. I thought this was going to be just another romance that I didn’t love but I didn’t hate and was maybe a victim of my pandemic brain. At the 78% mark, Waters turned it around to an “I cannot recommend this book at all.”
Right up top I’m going to address my main issue. Waters has a side character who is revealed to be a lesbian and then the main character immediately tells her friends after swearing them to silence. And then she does it again! The best way to keep something secret is to not tell anyone. Don’t out gay people in situations where that knowledge puts them in danger. I understand she’s using the subplot to brake Diana out of her cowardice, but that made it worse in my opinion. I was already gritting my teeth at other elements of the subplot, but this was a big no for me. I don’t think a secret gay relationship should be a plot device for the straights to figure out their feelings. I hated almost everything about this subplot.
Aside from that rather large issue, it took me over four months to read this book. My inability to focus is partly a byproduct of the pandemic. To Love and to Loathe should be my catnip – Diana and Jeremy agree to have a discreet affair at a house party so that Jeremy can get an honest assessment of his sexual technique. I love the “we’re just having sex, oh no we caught feelings” trope and it’s even better when the sex pact involves sex lessons. Furthermore, Waters switches it so that the rake is the one receiving the sex lessons. I wanted to love this. There are so many great possibilities in this scenario. The best parts of the story are when Jeremy and Diana are making out or having sex. And I don’t mean because of the descriptions of the physical activity, but that’s when they are the most emotionally intimate. Sadly, Waters doesn’t include many of these scenes. For a book about a sex pact it is remarkably tame.
My other complaint is that the characters spend so much time on musings and asides that I felt disconnected from the heart of the story. To quote Emperor Joseph II, there were simply too many notes. I get that this is a romantic comedy of manners and masks, but it didn’t work for me.
I received this as an advance reader copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.