The Bartered Bride
The Burning Point
Captured Hearts
The China Bride
A Distant Magic
Kiss of Fate
Loving a Lost Lord
The Marriage Spell
Never Less Than a Lady
One Perfect Rose The Rake
Shattered Rainbows
The Spiral Path
Stolen Magic
Twist of Fate
The Wild Child

The Bargain
by Mary Jo Putney
(Kensington, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-1-4201-1726-4
The Bargain is a delightful historical romance set in the late 1800s.†Itís a story of two people, each from non-traditional backgrounds, who find each other by chance and enter into an agreement of convenience which turns out to be a lot more than they bargained for. †

Lady Jocelyn Kendal is in a pickle.†She is the only child of the Earl of Cromarty and her fatherís last wish imparted in his will is Jocelynís requirement to marry by the age of 25 in order to secure her fortune. If she does not marry, the fortune will go to the current Earl, Jocelynís uncle, and his family.†Jocelyn is now 4 weeks away form her 25th birthday and her only prospect of a husband has no interest in marriage.†Jocelynís upbringing has not put her in the best frame of mind for love. Her mother left when she was four years old and she was raised alone by her father. Jocelyn learned at a young age, through the gossiping whispers, that her mother was an adulterer and only the same was expected of her. †

Major David Lancaster has been injured during battle.†Shrapnel is lodged in his spine and has rendered him paralyzed.†David is given opium 24/7 for the pain and the doctors do not expect him to live much longer.†David and his sister Sally spent their early years with their family and while they loved their mother and father, their half-brothers tormented them relentlessly.Their father was an Earl and their mother was a commoner Ė so David, Sally, and their mother were thrown out by the half-brothers when the Earl died. †Sally is now his only family left and David is worried for her future. †She works as a governess, but does not have money or a husband to take care of her. †

Lady Jocelyn is desperate for a husband.† Her uncleís wife has her eyes set on Jocelynís money and wonít give Jocelyn a second look after the fortune changes hands. The Duke who is her target is a rake and refuses to marry her, but he doesnít have a problem with a relationship with Jocelyn regardless of her marriage status. †Jocelyn realized that what she wants is to be a quick widow and then enter into an affair with the Duke. †

While visiting a friend in the military hospital, Jocelynís learns of David and his ill fate. She approaches David with a deal that will work for both of them. David and Jocelyn will marry to secure Jocelynís fortune and in return Jocelyn will supply an annuity to Sally to keep her comfortable for the rest of her life. †

It seemed like the perfect deal, until Sally employs a radical surgeon, Ian Kinlock, who believes that if David were truly paralyzed he would feel no pain. Kinlock performs surgery to remove the shrapnel and within a week David is walking and getting stronger every day.†David feels a connection from the beginning with Jocelyn, but he knows that her heart is with someone else, so they plan a scheme for annulment but David isnít sure he is ready to let Jocelyn go. †

The Bargain is a fun and entertaining book. †The banter between David and Jocelyn is enjoyable as their friendship and love grow. †They seem to be headed towards the perfect relationship if only their past fears and worries about relationships and love donít get in the way.

Jocelyn is a great character. †She is very giving and generous and would be a good role model for anyone. Itís well known that Jocelyn has a lot of money, but the sum is never talked about. The money she offers as an annuity to Sally is described as well more than anyone would expect and this seems to be nothing compared to the charity that Jocelyn gives to the community.†It seems unlikely that a single woman of 25 years has that amount of money and would be able to give to that degree without affecting her lifestyle or home maintenance. †

Jocelyn has several issues that cause her to fight love. †These issues are alluded to throughout the book, but are not fully revealed until the end. †I think the reader could connect more with her turmoil if the issues were brought out for the reader earlier in the story. †

The secondary characters are also delightful and add depth to the overall study. Sally and Ian have their own relationship brewing and I always love a story with more than one romance. †.

The Bargain is a light, fun read and perfect for anyone looking for a great book on a lazy day.

--Nichole Howell

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