To swoon and to spar A novel

Martha Waters, 1988-

Book - 2023

"The Regency Vows series that is 'sure to delight Bridgerton fans' (USA TODAY) returns with this story about a viscount and his irascible new wife who hopes to chase her husband from their shared home so that she can finally get some peace and quiet--only to find that his company is not as onerous as she thought. Viscount Penvale has been working for years to buy back his ancestral home, Trethwick Abbey, from his estranged uncle. And so he's thrilled when his uncle announces that he is ready to sell but with one major caveat--Penvale must marry his uncle's ward, Jane Spencer. When the two meet in London, neither is terribly impressed. Penvale finds Jane headstrong and sharp-tongued. Jane finds him cold and aloof. Ne...vertheless, they agree to a marriage in name only and return to the estate. There, Jane enlists her housekeeper for a scheme: to stage a haunting so that Penvale will return to London, leaving her to do as she pleases at Trethwick Abbey. But Penvale is not as easily scared as his uncle and as their time together increases, Jane realizes that she might not mind her husband's company all that much. With her trademark 'arch sense of humor and a marvelously witty voice' (Entertainment Weekly), Martha Waters crafts another delightful romp for all historical romance fans"--

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Romance fiction
Historical fiction
New York : Atria Paperback 2023.
Main Author
Martha Waters, 1988- (author)
First Atria Paperback edition
Physical Description
324 pages ; 21 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

Peter Bourne, Viscount Penvale, finally has a chance to buy back his family's country home, Trethwick Abbey, from his uncle John. There is just one problem. In order for John to sell Trethwick Abbey to Penvale, he insists that Penvale wed his ward Jane Spencer. While Jane would like nothing better than to rid herself of the annoying, intrusive presence of her guardian, she isn't exactly sure that trading him in for Penvale is a step in the right direction. Fortunately for Jane, she has a plan to ensure that her new husband leaves her alone at Trethwick Abbey: convince him that it is haunted. With a refreshingly acerbic sense of wit Jane Austen might have admired as well as a plot that gives a clever nod to the screwball spooky delights of Austen's Gothic-tinged Northanger Abbey and the novels of Mrs. Radcliffe, Waters (To Marry and to Meddle, 2022) proves she is in fine literary fettle as she dexterously delivers another sublimely satisfying addition to her completely charming Regency Vows series.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

An elaborate hoax leads to unexpected love in Waters's satisfying, slow-burning fourth Regency Vows romance (after To Marry and to Meddle). Jane Spencer has been enjoying her freedom in Cornwall's Trethwick Abbey since the death of her parents and has no intention of allowing a marriage of convenience to Peter Bourne, seventh Viscount Penvale, to cramp her style. She intends to force him to abandon her in the country by convincing him the house is haunted with the help of her faithful staff. Unfortunately, Peter doesn't believe in ghosts and only agreed to the marriage to regain possession of Trethwick Abbey, his childhood home, so he's not easily driven out. The constant disturbances are irritating however, so he plays along when Jane not so innocently suggests the trouble could be a haunting, hoping to catch the mastermind behind the scheme. As he and Jane wander the halls in search of the undead, they discover to their surprise that they actually enjoy being around each other. Love blossoms, but even after their relationship transitions into a true marriage, their shaky foundation threatens their romance. The pace is somewhat uneven, but the goofy faux ghosts and Jane's hilariously blunt personality set this apart. Series fans won't be disappointed. Agent: Taylor Haggerty, Root Literary. (Apr.)

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Review by Library Journal Review

Viscount Penvale lost his family home, Trethwick Abbey, to his uncle at a young age, but vowed to get it back. Now his uncle is willing to sell, but in exchange Penvale must marry his uncle's ward, Jane Spencer. Jane adores Trethwick Abbey and agrees to marry Penvale simply so she can stay, but all the while she's hatching a plan to oust him just as she did his uncle, by manufacturing a haunting. The haunting, however, doesn't go as planned because Penvale is determined to stay and improve life for his tenants and the local village. Jane eventually realizes Penvale is much more than a privileged aristocrat, and he discovers that her surly demeanor hides shyness and social anxiety. When the two host a house party, all manner of unexpected things happen. VERDICT The fake-haunting plot sounds like gothic romance, but Waters's latest "Regency Vows" novel (which follows To Marry and To Meddle) is a romantic comedy through and through. Although the chemistry between Jane and Penvale lacks a certain spark, readers will still be pleased that Jane ultimately decides to make room for Penvale in both Trethwick Abbey and her heart.--Eve Stano

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Prologue Prologue Trethwick Abbey, Cornwall, April 1818 It was a dark and stormy night--or, rather, it should have been. In reality, it was a sunny, breezy afternoon--one of those mild April days that truly felt as though summer were properly on its way. It had been a wet, cold winter, and Penvale had more than once wondered why, precisely, he'd thought it wise to leave London to return to Cornwall in January, of all months. Today, however, he could not help thinking that the atmosphere would be well served by some of the bleak, stormy weather for which his ancestral home was so famed. Because he--Peter Bourne, seventh Viscount Penvale, owner of one of the oldest stately homes in all of England--was ghost-hunting. Penvale didn't really believe in ghosts, of course. He was a practical man, not given to flights of fancy. There was simply no chance that a house--and certainly not his house--could be haunted. And yet here he was. "Did you hear that?" his wife asked. Penvale turned slowly, surveying their surroundings. "I did," he said, squinting into the gloom. It might have been a sunny afternoon, but they were in one of the unused bedrooms on the third floor, the curtains drawn to prevent any light from entering, the furniture still covered to ward off dust, and this all lent an eerie, lonely mood to their activities. The household staff was in the process of airing out these rooms in preparation for a house party they would be hosting in a couple of weeks' time. Penvale's sister and brother-in-law and closest friends would be staying with them for a fortnight, taking in the sea air, enjoying long walks along the scenic cliffs atop which Trethwick Abbey was perched, and generally savoring all the comforts the estate had to offer. Penvale thought a haunting might cast a bit of a pallor on the proceedings. "I think it came from the wardrobe," his wife continued uncertainly, her large blue-violet eyes mirroring some of his own unease. A moment of silence. "The wardrobe," Penvale repeated, casting a wary glance at the piece of furniture in question, a hulking presence in one corner. "Well, I suppose I should check inside." "Yes," his wife agreed. Neither one moved. "Penvale?" she prompted. "Yes, of course," he said, taking a few steps toward the wardrobe; no sooner had he made it halfway across the room, however, than there was another ominous thump, this one coming from the opposite wall. Penvale paused. "That," he pronounced with great certainty, "did not come from the wardrobe." He turned back to his wife, noticing that she'd gone paler. "No?" she ventured, her voice more hesitant than he'd ever heard it. "No," he said more firmly, advancing on her slowly. Her eyes were fixed on his face as he approached, close enough that he could detect the fresh citrus scent that always clung to her skin. Then, without warning, the silence between them was shattered by an earsplitting, unearthly scream. And the candle in his wife's hand flickered out. Excerpted from To Swoon and to Spar: A Novel by Martha Waters All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.