The Marriage Bargain

Author: Diane Perkins

Publisher: Warner Forever

Release Date: October 2005

Blue Ribbon Rating: 5

Format: PRINT

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Emma Keenan, the Countess of Kellworth, has had three years to rue the day she married Spenser.  She knew when she said her vows that he would be going off to war and that she would be in charge of his estate.  He had promised that she would have all that she needed to make her life safe and comfortable, but after the first year she learned of his gambling problems and she became an expert on making due on what very little he now consented to send.  She waited each day for news that her husband had perished in the war and that his Uncle would be coming to take over and demand that she leave.  She never thought his body would come back to the estate for burial because he was shot in a DUEL.

From the moment Spenser's two best friends came to her door with the news that he was dead, Emma had been subjected to suspicion and sly remarks about why Spenser rarely mentioned her and why the estate and grounds were falling to ruin. She managed to ignore them knowing that they would be leaving as soon as her husband was buried.  With all that needed to be done Emma hadn't had much time to really think about her husband and his death until they were on the way to the family vault.  The thought suddenly struck her that maybe it was a big hoax and her husband wasn't really in the coffin.  Emma demanded to see inside the box and after the lid was pried off she was completely shocked when her husband sat up and asked for some water.

Spenser Keenan, the Earl of Kellworth, was never supposed to have the title.  After his brother died and he became the Earl he couldn't stay at his estates because they held too many painful memories.  When he met Emma Chambers, he thought he had found the answer to his problem; the arrangement would benefit Emma and allow him to go his own way without worrying about the estate.  After he is rescued from almost being buried alive he is shocked at the state of affairs at his estate.  He doesn't understand why Emma is so mad and why she hadn't written him about all the problems she was having.

Spenser is stunned when he learns that Emma thought he had gambled away all of his fortune and that he had authorized decreasing the amount of funds she was to receive each quarter, because none of it was true.  Emma also demanded to know why he didn't answer any of the countless letters she had sent him over the years.  Spenser sends his best friends back to London to figure out what has been going on during the time he was off fighting, while he continues to recover from his wound.  During his recovery, and stuck on the estate with Emma, he begins to fall in love with the woman he married, but because of all that Emma has been through he knows it will be very difficult for Emma to ever trust and believe in him again.  He also knows that until he can determine who is behind all the sabotage he can't afford to let it show how much he cares for her.  If the person who is behind all their troubles knows that Emma is important to him, he would be placing her life in danger.

THE MARRIAGE BARGAIN by Diane Perkins is a beautiful and heart warming historical romance.  I loved this story and was moved by the struggles that Emma and Spenser had to face and work through while also learning to trust in their growing love.  This was a book that as soon as I started reading the first paragraph I was transported to another world and I did not return to my reality until I had reached the last sentence on the last page.  The MARRIAGE BARGAIN is a shining example of all that a marriage of convenience story should be.

By Romance Junkies Reviewer: Char

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