Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Review: The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst

I came across this series by accident last year and thought "Gee, I'd probably like those books.". Then, busy with other books and writing projects, I promptly forgot about it.

Then, early this month, I was back at WalMart because I thought I was going to get my new smartphone (I arrived too early--but that's not the point!). I noticed there was a shelf of books on display at the back, and among those were The Marriage Bargain, The Marriage Trap and The Marriage Mistake. Unable to resist the 40% off price tag, I went ahead and took the plunge.

So, was The Marriage Bargain an actual bargain for this hopeful romantic? Or did I buy a bunch of books in a series that I'll be trying to clear off my shelf later this year? Read on and find out!
(Summary from GoodReads)
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 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?

Except fate has a way of upsetting the best-laid plans…
This book was just "okay" for me, and I mean that in a "good" way, not in an "it's broken" way. The writing was fine, the plot moved along decently and for the most part I didn't have any major complaints. Yet it really seemed like something was missing.

There was a lot of "should we or shouldn't we?" here, as well as an over-reliance on characters not telling each other things, and instead moaning about them in their heads, without the necessary Very Damn Good Reason for this plot device to be employed. I didn't get what Alexa felt would happen, just what sky would fall, if she told Nick she wanted to use the money from the bargain to help her parents. That she felt it was better for him to think she was a gold digger just didn't make sense to me, especially since these two have history as childhood friends who fell apart. 

I can't give you a heat rating here. Why? Because I didn't really 'read', but rather 'skimmed', these characters love scenes. I just wasn't invested enough in them to give a damn what was going on with them in bed. 

However, all hope is not lost. I totally loved Maggie and Michael's characters, and they are the leads in the next book, so I will be reading on, even though The Marriage Bargain didn't quite meet my expectations. 

I think this sums it up: if I'm going to love a romance novel, I need to love the hero. And there's no way in hell I could ever love a hero who would name his pets stuff like Dog, Cat or Fish. So unfortunately for this book, Nick didn't have me at hello. 
The Marriage Bargain wasn't a bad book. It was definitely one of those 'It's not me, it's you' situations. As long as you can deal with the plot device I gripped about and aren't offended by a guy who has no imagination when naming pets, you should be totally fine. The writing was good, and there was some witty banter that, to me, shows promise. If you can get it on sale like I did, it may be worth a shot. 


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