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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Review: The Bachelor's Bargain

The Bachelor's Bargain
by Catherine Palmer

Housemaid Anne Webster will stop at nothing to save her family from their dire circumstances. Even if it means accepting the proposal of the roguish Ruel Chouteau, Marquess of Blackthorne, who has just returned to England from the Americas under a veil of mystery. Both have their own agendas: she to use his riches, and he to use her lace-making skills but neither could have dreamed what they would discover on the other side of their scheming.

As always, society tattler Miss Pickworth has a thing or two to say about this scandalous union. Unless they want their plans aired in her column, Anne and Ruel must keep their banter to a minimum and play the role of a happy couple.

Hes handsome and arrogant; shes smart and obstinate. But can Anne and Ruel put their differences aside to fend off an unexpected foe?

Desperate to help her family, and believing she’s about to die, Anne Webster agrees to marry the rich but roguish son of the lord who is her employer. Anne recovers from her illness, to everyone’s surprise, but now she’s bound to a man who is basically a stranger. A man she believes she can trust with her life, but what about her heart?

Anne Webster was first introduced in The Affectionate Adversary, as Lady Delacroix’s personal maid. I liked her right away in book one, and she didn’t disappoint in her own story. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that I enjoyed this book even more than the first one. The Bachelor’s Bargain takes the reader back, once again, to the charming but pampered society of Regency England. Catherine Palmer’s grasp of the time period is, as with her other Regencies, right on the mark. I felt like I was actually there, living out for myself Anne’s adventure...and her romance.

Though there were no sex scenes in the book–it is a Christian book after all–the sexual tension between Ruel and Anne was kept high throughout. And I think the author handled this well. It didn’t feel convoluted to me. The reasons that kept these two people apart were reasonable, and that kept me rooting for them all the way through. The heat level of this book, according to secular standards, would be sweet, for there were no graphic sex scenes. There were some very passionate kisses portrayed, but you knew it was okay because they were, after all, married. I did hesitate to let my fourteen-year-old daughter read it, just because the level of sensuality was a little higher than you’d usually expect for a Christian book. But I can say it is a good clean read, with no cursing, and enjoyable for women of most ages.

Review by Violet