The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst
Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC
Length: Full length (216 pgs)
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Dahlia
A marriage in name only…
To save her family home, impulsive bookstore owner, Alexa Maria McKenzie, casts a love spell. But she never planned on conjuring up her best friend’s older brother—the powerful man who once shattered her heart.
Billionaire Nicholas Ryan doesn’t believe in marriage, but in order to inherit his father’s corporation, he needs a wife and needs one fast. When he discovers his sister’s childhood friend is in dire financial straits, he’s offers Alexa a bold proposition.
A marriage in name only with certain rules: Avoid entanglement. Keep things all business. Do not fall in love. The arrangement is only for a year so the rules shouldn’t be that hard to follow, right?
Life is messy and Nicholas Ryan just reunited with the one woman who has disaster written all over her.
Alexa is a believer. She believes in family, rooting for the underdog, and living life with a purpose. She appreciates the challenges in life like her bookstore business and providing shelter for animals that have nowhere else to go. However, her latest challenge is in helping her family keep their own shelter and after a night of seeking guidance from the Earth Mother, Alexa's call for help is answered. The money she needs is tied to a man who just so happens to be her childhood tormentor and Alexa isn't about to let him bully her anymore. This time they're playing by her rules, but surprisingly she finds herself wanting more.
Nick is a believer too. He believes in the things he can control like his career and independence. Life has too many messes he would prefer to avoid like family and emotional involvement. Relationships always end badly and children are usually the casualties, which is why he prefers women who treat sex as more of a business transaction. As soon as they mention wanting more, Nick retreats. In his jaded existence, the only thing that’s brought him any joy is his career in architecture. When the expansion of that happiness becomes threatened, Nick finds himself in a predicament that has the potential to get extremely messy. His career depends on him finding the perfect woman who’s desperate for his money and not him.
The author very descriptively establishes two characters who couldn’t possibly be more opposite, but exactly what the other needs to break through personal barriers. Their journey takes them through many aspects of life’s messiness like choosing to be happy, not living in the shadow of others mistakes, forgiveness, and unconditional love. In meeting Alexa and then Nick and getting a feel for their characters’ description, the visual is clear and concise with their personalities. It's as the story progresses when not only more opposing traits are revealed, but also how alike their personalities are when it comes to independence and determination. The author also does an incredible job with the dialogue ranging it from light banter to aggressive and provoking.
The storyline is that of a modern day arranged marriage with all the quirks of human emotion and vulnerabilities. It's an engaging and slightly challenging read for which I was grateful that there was no instant love between the characters and lust wasn't easily given in to. This author is definitely one to watch and readers of contemporary romance should absolutely read this story.