Read with: iBooks for iPad
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Marriage to a Billionaire, Book 1
Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC
Hero: Nicholas Ryan
Heroine: Alexandria Maria McKenzie
Date of Publication: February 14, 2012
Started On: February 18, 2012
Finished On: February 18, 2012
All romance lovers out there, make way for the superbly talented Jennifer Probst who has succeeded in earning herself an auto-buy spot on my already long list of authors whose books I wouldn’t hesitate to purchase. Not only do I immediately purchase Jennifer Probst’s books, but I stop everything I am reading at the moment and plunge into her books with an enthusiasm that tells a story of its own.
27 year old Alexandria Maria McKenzie (Alexa) is in a bit of a dilemma. She needs a husband, preferably with $150,000 to spare and she needs it fast. Brushing aside her ideals and her image of the perfect husband to share her life with isn’t easy for Alexa. But she will do it because she is willing to do everything in her power to rescue her family home. And so Alexa casts a little love spell, all the while feeling a bit silly but nevertheless hopeful that Mother Earth would send her way, a man who would meet all those qualities that she wants in a man together with that wad of cold hard cash to give as well.
30 year old Nicholas Ryan (Nick) is in a bit of a fix as well. Nick has a fortune at his fingertips, but his Uncle Earl had changed all the rules of the game at the last minute and left him hanging. His dream of owning Dreamscape, the architectural firm that brings out all his emotions and creativity in one stride would belong to him, only if gets married before the stated time is up. Nick is a man who doesn’t believe in happily ever afters, large families and the strength of a love between two people that defies all odds and logic. And he is certainly the direct opposite of what Alexa envisions as a husband for herself and nor is he too thrilled to know that his only viable option of a wife for a year is none other than his childhood tormentor Alexa herself.
14 year since that humiliating experience that had broken Alexa’s heart, she meets an altogether more controlled and formidable Nick, whose cold and hard way of looking at a marriage leaves a lot to be desired. But Alexa is desperate enough and thus she enters into a bargain which would give them both a marriage in name only, merely a business transaction on both sides, cold and aloof right from the onset until the 1 year period is up and both parties go their separate ways. But neither Alexa nor Nick thinks of those messier emotions that could botch things up, or those tendrils of desire that slowly erupts, leaving them both wanting more and brings in the possibility of that elusive thing called love that could last a lifetime.
Jennifer Probst surprised me with The Marriage Bargain. I was already in high anticipatory mode when I started on the book, knowing that Jennifer would not disappoint me. What surprised me, and all in a good way I must add, was the thread of humor that was introduced into the book right from the very beginning. Humor and red hot passion is an unbeatable combination in any romance novel and I was a goner from the first chapter itself.
Alexa was a character I loved right from the very beginning. Her sense of humor, her loyalty and kindness, the way that she gives everything she has got with no expectations of gaining anything back in return were some of those traits that drew me towards her in the same way way that Nick continued to be as the story progressed. Alexa is a woman who is comfortable with who she is, a woman who is helplessly drawn towards her husband as she had been when she was much younger and more naive, already in love with a man who had no illusions about love and happily ever afters. And Alexa’s well rounded family certainly makes for a heartwarming addition to an already character driven story that proved to be of the unputdownable kind.
Nick *sigh*, Nick is a character I am going to be remembering for a long, long time. He is a man torn between the desire he feels for his altogether too alluring for her own good wife, a woman who confuses and befuddles him as no other woman ever has and his need for control that remains to be a thing of the past when Alexa steps into his life. He has no intention of staying around after the one year period is up to see where their relationship could go, already convinced that he would never make a good husband, a conviction born out of a childhood that had seen the endless battles of war waged between his parents.
The sexual tension that Jennifer so cleverly weaves into the story is of the scorching variety, the tingles and jolts that the reader experiences right along with Nick and Alexa one of the best parts of the story. Jennifer has a talent for building up the tension until it is an either do or die impasse that the characters reach, and the reader cannot help but be drawn towards the magic that unfolds that just left my throat parched, in dire need of a cool, tall glass of iced water to smooth things over. Without gushing further on this aspect, I will just let my quotes section do it for you.
And don’t let me forget the verbal warfare between Nick and Alexa, Nick finally meeting his match in every way. A woman who doesn’t back down, a woman who brings those little bits of color to his otherwise stark and empty life, showing Nick that life as he had known it is no longer an option for him. It is Alexa’s patience when it comes to Nick, the way she draws the inner soul inside of him that years to embrace those emotions which Nick is afraid to name that just makes this one of the best romances I have read in a long while.
A passion that is explosive as the love that unfolds is tender, a beautiful happily ever after that encompasses everything; Jennifer Probst delivers a fiery and wild romance that goes straight to your heart.
[…] Some parts were totally inappropriate. The corded length of his arms. The broad shoulders and chest that stretched and molded the fabric. The deep bronze of his skin as if he had been lying in the sun for hours. The animal litheness of his movements. He had grown up, and he was no pretty boy. Nick Ryan was all hot-blooded man—and still looked at her as Maggie’s little playmate.
“Your mother’s coming,” he said.
“I know—she probably heard us arguing. Do something!”
“Fine!” He grabbed her around the waist, dragged her body flush against his, and ducked his head. His lips crushed hers as his hands wrapped around her tightly so they were plastered against each other, hip to hip, thigh to thigh, breasts to chest.
She expected a precise, controlled kiss to calmly show her mother they were lovers. Instead she got hot testosterone and raw sexual energy. She got warm lips melded over hers. His teeth nipped. His tongue burrowed inside and plunged in and out with sheer command, bending her back over his arm to take every last drop of her resolve.
He’d been ready to push her away, and then she’d grabbed him at her mother’s call. Wasn’t his fault he gave in to instinct to save their ruse.
Until her hot, wet mouth opened under his. Until her sweet taste swamped his senses, and the maddening scents of vanilla and spice made him want to howl at the moon. He finally knew she approached sex the same way she approached anger—no holds barred—no prisoners taken. Demanding. Punishing. Passionate.
She waited as he perused the room, skated over her, stopped, then came slowly back.
Their eyes met.
Alexa hated clichés, and what she hated most was becoming one. But at that moment, her heartbeat thundered, her palms sweated, and her belly dipped and plunged as if on a rollercoaster ride. Her body went on full alert, begging him to come to her, promising him surrender. If he told her to go home, get in bed, and wait for him, Alexa was sure she’d follow his instructions.
Nick stood alone and watched her.
A strange emotion bubbled up inside of him. Since he’d never experienced it before, he couldn’t seek out a name. There was little left in life that touched him, and he admitted he liked it that way.
Tonight, something changed.
Nick knew the moment she realized her robe had dropped. Knew when the knowledge she was naked hit her full force. Watched her lips purse a small circle of horror right before sanity hit to make her reach for the robe.
Nick used his two-second time span to make a decision.
Her fingers started to yank up the material when he blocked her motion, lowered his head, and stamped his mouth over hers. Shock held her immobile and he used the time to his advantage. One quick thrust parted her plump lips and allowed him entry—entry to every slick, feminine heated corner of her mouth. Drugged on the taste of her, he circled her tongue with quick, urgent strokes, begging her to give it all back to him.
And she did.
He closed the distance another tight inch. Her breasts pressed against his chest, and her nipples were hard little points stabbing out of the scarlet material, begging to be freed. Her breath came in ragged gasps, her perfume swamped his senses. He grew hard, and her eyes widened as his full length throbbed against her leg in demand.
“I’m calling your bluff, baby.”
Pure shock registered on her face as he removed one hand from the wall to casually unbutton his shirt, slide off his tie, then grasp her chin with a firm grip.
He stamped his mouth over hers, not giving her a chance to think or back off or push him away. He invaded her mouth, plunging his tongue inside the slick, silky cave, then closed his lips around the wet flesh and sucked hard.
She grabbed for his shoulders, and made a little moan deep in her throat.
Then she exploded.
He tenderly mated his tongue with hers, stroking, tracing the swollen flesh of her lips in an action that bespoke pure humbleness. And when he opened his eyes and looked into hers, she sucked in her breath as he finally let her in, let her see it all, and gave her what she needed.
“It’s always been you. I don’t want anybody else, I don’t dream about anybody else. It’s only you.”
She cried out as he buried himself to the hilt inside of her. Her body opened and accepted his swollen length, hugged him deep and demanded more.
He surged upward and paused at her entrance.
“Look at me, Alexa.”
Half drugged, she opened her eyes and gazed at the man she loved with every part of her being, waiting for him to claim her, waiting to take anything he could give.
“It’s always been you.” He paused as if to be sure she heard and understood the words. Intensity gleamed within amber depths. He gripped her fingers, as if trying to speak beyond words.
“And it will always be you.”