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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? Except fate has a way of upsetting the best-laid plans …


BOOK REVIEW: The Marriage Bargain

Jennifer Probst

BOOK SERIES: 

RATING:

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive …” ~ Sir Walter Scott

I honestly LOVED everything about this book! From start to finish, it kept me in a constant state of elation, the escapist in me doing cartwheels of joy every time I turned a page. This is a feel-good, funny, sexy, romantic story of two people who do everything they can to fight the chemistry between them, to only fail miserably at every turn. A story like this is a romantic escapist’s dream come true.

Alexa is a strong and independent young woman, a small business owner, in desperate need of two things – the man of her dreams and a large sum of money to save her family’s home. Preferably in the same package. She dreams of a man possessing “loyalty, intelligence, humor, a strong sense of family and a love for animals, a healthy income.” The solution to all her problems comes in the form of her childhood crush, her best friend’s arrogant older brother, whom she has not seen ever since he broke her heart when they were kids. Nick is a successful architect who needs a wife for a year in order to inherit his late uncle’s company and is willing to pay for it. He does not believe in “love everlasting, marriage, and family” but he is willing to have a fixed-term marriage of convenience with someone he trusts, even if that someone is the only woman capable of getting under his skin and making him question his resolve.

“All women wanted marriage, and marriage meant messiness. Fights above 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.”

Alexa comes from a tight-knit family, a family that fights to stay together and fights for each other, and she would do anything for the ones she loves, even marry a man who she knows could never love her the way she dreams of being loved.

”Could she stand being married to a man who made logic his God and thought monogamy was a female thing? … Nick only experienced strong emotions for his buildings. Never for women.”

Nick, on the other hand, is the product of a broken home, whose parents’ self-absorbed behaviour has taught him from an early age that marriages are as messy as they are short-lived.

“Marriage is unnecessary. The dream of forever is a fairy tale. White knights and monogamy don’t exist. … Sure, people mean it when they confess love and devotion, but time erodes all the good stuff and leaves the bad.”

Two people with completely opposite views on most things, most importantly on the importance of commitment, but equally desperate to achieve their goals. The deal gets sealed, they marry each other and all their best laid plans slowly fall through. Neither of them quite expected for their loveless marriage of convenience to turn into an irresistible battle of wills, a delicious struggle against their ever-growing attraction, or to find their ‘soul-mate’ in the midst of it all. They tear through each other’s walls and become vulnerable to something neither of them have ever experienced or felt before. The more they fight the pull, the more the chemistry between them sizzles. Eventually they lose the battle and give in to all the pent-up frustration and emotions that have tortured them since their wedding day. But nothing is easy or uncomplicated when two equally stubborn individuals are trying to make a relationship work, never giving up or changing their views on what that relationship should look like in the long run.

The highlight of the book for me were the dialogues, especially between the two main characters, Alexa and Nick. It is so enjoyable when a heroine with a smart mouth can disarm a man with only a few words – “It was nice to see you again, Pretty Boy.” Alexa is a woman we want to emulate, befriend, idolize. Her only weakness is her fierce devotion to her loved ones which is also her biggest strength. Her larger-than-life personality disarms Nick, makes him question everything he has ever believed about love and relationships – she gives herself to him completely, unselfishly and shows him the truth of his feelings for her.

“She gave for no gain of her own, no goal she needed to reach. Love was not a prize but something she owned inside and shared freely. Every night she took him deep into her body and held nothing back. The woman who was his wife was a fierce, proud creature who both shattered and humbled him, and he realized in the glimmer of firelight that he loved her. He was in love with his wife.”

However, love is easy, trust is hard and eventually their biggest challenge is shutting down their doubts about each other and trusting their hearts to have made the right choice. Nick’s personal journey in this book drives the storyline and his emotional growth in the end is the catalyst for everything else. He shows us that it is never too late to become better people if what we are causes pain to the ones we love. Life is full of compromises, we give and we take, and sometimes life throws us a bone that is worth re-evaluating everything we hold dear just to keep it.

A truly wonderful and uplifting book, a delightful writing style, even Ms Probst clichés leave a sweet taste in your mouth.

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Marriage to a Billionaire - Recommended Reading Order

(standalone stories with interconnected characters)

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