Sunday, August 26, 2012

Book Review: The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst

A business like marriage that was supposed to be in name only; beneficial to both parties, with no romantic feelings involved. The catch? The happy couple have to stay married for a full year. Sounds easy enough… But like a lot of things, this particular situation is a lot easier said than done.

The Marriage Bargain is a cute romance read with a few good doses of humor thrown in the mix. The story starts with Alexa McKenzie creating a spell in the middle of her living room in order to get a man (one with $150,000 to give would be awesome). She makes a list of all the qualities she wants her dream guy to have and throws into the bucket along with her other ingredients; one hair from a male family member, a mix of scented herbs, and a small stick. I know what you are probably thinking at this point. Sounds completely crazy, right? That is what I thought at first. Then it seemed like the whole spell thing went along with her quirkiness. So I went along with it.  Turns out Alexa is not a crazy gal just trying to snag a rich man so she can live the good life. She is the owner of a diverse bookstore, who truly values her family and needs the money to help save her parents’ home.

Enter Nicholas Ryan (Nick happens to be the brother of Alexa’s best friend since childhood, Maggie) who works at a company called Dreamscape that his uncle owned.

“As Nick had drifted in and out of relationships, one thing became clear— all women wanted marriage, and marriage meant messiness. Fights about emotion. Children tearing them both at the seams, wanting more attention. Needing more space, until the end became the same as every other relationship. Divorce. With children as the casualties. No thanks.”

-         --Jennifer Probst, The Marriage Bargain

As you can see, Nick did not believe in love, real marriages, or the whole white picket fence deal, but his Uncle Earl did and therefore left a special clause in his will when he passed on. If Nicked wanted to inherit the majority of Dreamscape, he needed to get married and have it last for a total of one year. Now the hunt begins.
He ends up making a list himself, of all of the qualities he would like in his trophy wife and tries to think of a woman he knows who would fit the bill. Luckily his sister Maggie calls him and tells him she thinks she has found a wife for him, Alexa. At first his balks at the idea, but regardless he does feel like he could trust her even though they haven’t seen each other in several years.
So they met at his office and go over the terms of the marriage. They do not exactly hit it off when they meet.

“You want a hostess, an orphan, and a robot all rolled into one. Is that fair?” He took a deep breath. “You’re exaggerating. Just because I’d like to marry someone with grace and business sense doesn’t mean I’m a monster.” “You want a Stepford wife without the sex. Haven’t you learned anything about women since you were fourteen?” “I learned plenty. That’s why Uncle Earl had to force me into an institution that favors women in the first place.” She gasped. “Men get plenty out of marriage!” “Like what?” “Steady sex and companionship.” “After six months the headaches start and you bore each other to tears.” “Someone to grow old with.” 
“Men never want to grow old. That’s why they keep seeking out younger women.” Her mouth dropped open. She closed it with one quick snap. “Children… a family… someone who will love you in sickness and in health.” “Someone who spends all your money and nags you every night and bitches about cleaning up your mess.” “You’re sick.” “You’re deluded.” She shook her head, causing her silky black curls to lift around her face, then slowly settle. The flush was back in her skin. “God, your parents really screwed you up,” she muttered. “Thank you, Freud.”

-        -- Jennifer Probst, The Marriage Bargain

Though they do not agree on everything, Nick is attracted to Alexa almost immediately which scares the crap out him. Here he is looking for someone who is safe and restrained, and calm….instead he gets this lovely deep blue-eyed woman, who is fiery, full of life, and unpredictable.
Alexa was attracted to Nick as well, but he was a bit annoying and cold, and thought he still looked at her like she was his little sister’s best friend. And after all this was just business and the only way to keep things untangled was to not develop feelings.

They do end up coming to an agreement and they attempt to convince Alexa’s family that they are the real deal so they can get married. Nick does agree to give her the $150,000, but she does not want to tell him the real reason she needs the money. She wants him to think she is untrustworthy, so that when the year is up it would be a lot easier for her to walk away from him.
There is a fire and chemistry between these two that works. It reminded me of the old saying opposites attract. They may be opposites, but they have some things in common with each other and they bring out nice qualities that they will soon discover during their marriage. But of course it won’t all be rainbows and butterflies during their time together.

It was a bit predictable, but that did not take away from the story. At least for me it didn’t. My only complaint is that towards the end of the book, things happened a little too quickly. Other than that, I thought it was a very fun read, and I just may read it again before the second Marriage to a Billionaire story comes out which tells Maggie’s story. According to Jennifer Probst’s website the book is called the The Marriage Trap and will be released on October 4th

If you like this story make sure to mark your calendars for the next installment. I am excited to see what will happen with Maggie.

Barnes & Noble



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