Author: Martha Waters
The Regency Vows series 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. Nevertheless, 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.
To Swoon and to Spar is the fourth novel in the Regency Vows series. As each novel features a new couple, the stories could be read as standalones; however, the couples do crossover and the timelines are continuous, so it could also be read as a series. This story follows Viscount Penvale who is ready to have his beloved Trethwick Abbey in Cornwall, but there is a catch. His uncle will only agree is Penvale gets married, and he selects his ward, Jane Spencer. The two enter a marriage of convenience, but Jane would rather be left alone with her books. Thus begins a tale where the two are at odds, including a haunting, where they are also forced to get to know the other.
Both Jane and Penvale has a fondness for the estate, so it was nice to see their sides of why they wanted to be there and their connections. The house was a great way to tie the characters together as it helped act as a tie-in to their marriage of convenience. Their relationship was a very slow burn. Jane is shy yet still rude at times, so her character took a bit to get used to. Sometimes it came across as if she was inconsistent, so I believe it is just something in the writing rather than with the character herself. She was, still, a great example of an introvert as she was a great contrast for more outgoing Penvale. I liked that Penvale tried to see Jane’s side rather than forcing Jane to automatically conform to Penvale’s side. There is a lot more to their romance and interactions, but I leave that up to the reader to find out instead of me spoiling everything.
Penvale’s sister, and main protagonist from the second novel, Diana, plays a secondary role in this story. She is very protective of Penvale and therefore is wary of Jane. I greatly enjoyed her in her own story and even as a secondary character in books one and three, however, she was a bit much in this story. For the series itself, I loved the other three novels, so it is difficult not to compare them. I felt this one was the weakest of the four in terms of plot and chemistry, but it was still a fun and enjoyable story. There are still other characters that still need their own story, so I look forward to reading more in this series in the future! Overall, I love Waters’s writing and the series as a whole. I greatly look forward to reading more from Waters in the future.
**I give a special thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, Atria Books, for the opportunity to read this entertaining novel. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**
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