published: 5th April 2022
Marriage isn’t always smooth sailing
Lady Emily Turner should really be married by now, but with a dowry of her father’s debts, her only suitor is the odious owner of her father’s favourite gambling house.
Lord Julian Belfry is the second son of a marquess, but has managed to scandalise polite society with his acting career and the fact that he owns a less than salubrious theatre.
Crossing paths at a house party, they discover that a marriage of convenience might benefit them both: Emily can use her society connections to add some respectability to Julian’s theatre, while also managing to escape the dubious world of her father.
With differing ideas on the roles each will play in their marriage, and an on-the-run actress, a murderous kitten, and some meddlesome friends adding to the complications, Emily and Julian will have to confront the fact that their marriage of convenience might be leading to some rather inconvenient feelings.
Galley provided by publisher
To Marry and to Meddle is a solid romance read. I enjoyed it, without particularly loving it, but I think that’s me, rather than the book.
Because, really, there’s a lot to like here. As with her other books, Martha Waters produces a sweet and funny romance, with characters who leap off the page, characters you root for and want to be together. It’s a whole lot of fun and I couldn’t really say why I didn’t fully love this one. All I can point to is that I’ve read a lot of historical romances since I read (and adored) the first book in this series, and perhaps my tastes have changed since? Who knows.
Here’s why you should ignore me and read it!
Firstly, a romance is only as good as its characters and relationship and both were top-notch here. I especially loved how Emily got to shine on the page, when the previous two books she had been not much more than a bit-part character. She was a sympathetic and witty character and possibly one of my favourite romance mains. She’s complemented too by Julian who, I have to admit, wasn’t my favourite, but he was perfectly readable. Perhaps I’ve just read too many books where the men try force the women into roles they think they should have. So it wasn’t a good look from him, but thankfully he came to his senses.
I also really enjoyed the background characters, and seeing them after their own books (or before, if we’re talking Sophie and West – or at least I hope so). Possibly my favourite part of romance series is getting to see old main characters make appearances on page after their story is over. (Though I will admit I found it very helpful that Martha Waters introduced them all again by their title then an explanation of who exactly they were because I had clean forgot.)
Finally, I appreciated that there wasn’t any miscommunication in this book. Unlike the previous two (granted, the first of those entirely rested on miscommunication, I found in the second, the angst felt contrived because of it). However, it did lend it a lack of tension, towards the end. It only felt like the story was leading to an ‘I love you’, which isn’t necessarily bad, but it meant it lost any suspense it had.
But, if you enjoyed the previous two books in this series, I can guarantee you will also like this one. It has all the hallmarks of Martha Waters’ works and is a perfectly enjoyable read.