Recently I took a road trip over to St. Louis and needed something to do besides drive. Loading up on audio books I would not have enough time to get through seemed to be the deal. I picked out The Marriage Bargain as something different since I have not read anything by Jennifer Probst, but I see her name everywhere.
The story starts off with Alexa doing a spell to find a rich, handsome husband who might help her save her with $150,000. The money isn't for her, but to help save her parents house. To save pride though she will make the money about adding a cafe onto her bookstore. Never does she dream the man to fit this bill would be the boy she loved as a teenager, Nicolas Ryan.
Nicolas Ryan didn't have the greatest childhood, but he was born into a family of money. His sister wants nothing to do with the family business, but when she finds out he has to marry to get his inheritance from his uncle, her best friend Alexa fits the bill. Nick and Alexa hammer out a deal to a marriage of convenience where neither can stray, but both have to look like they are madly in love with one another.
It was fun to listen to the two play off each other. Nick doesn't want anything permanent, meaning a permanent marriage, kids or pets. Alexa is all hearth and home with a creative streak. The two move into Nick's house and the chaos ensues with each little think Alexa pulls, like trying to hide a group of dogs the shelter has no room for. Through it all though, Nick lusts after Alexa and intimate situations tend to occur. Alexa knows if she gets intimate with Nick, she will lose her heart to him. Knowing what he will do to her heart, she still falls for him.
Nick continually bends one small step at a time, but then there is what he considers an ultimate betrayal on Alexa's part that he cannot forgive. There is a lot of groveling over the course of the book from Nick. He isn't a bad guy, just shaped by a childhood that in the end he is starting to resemble in his own relationships.
I loved the friendship Alexa has with Maggie, Nick's sister. Maggie is a sassy lady and you get her story in the second book in the series. Alexa's family is briefly introduced, but we mostly get to see her parents, whom she has sworn not to mention the mortgage bailout to Nick. Alexa uses the money as a buffer for her heart telling Nick it is for other uses and tries to pawn herself off as just a money grubbing woman.
While the theme was pretty universal, I like Alexa and just how down to earth she is. She's a poet, artist and owns a bookstore. I was envious of her! Nick had a few redeeming qualities but overall, I found myself really disliking him for over half of the book until he started warming up and allowing Alexa into his life.
I recommend this as great, down to earth, marriage for money with some fun side characters, hot sex, cute dogs and even an Italian Count.