A Bride in the Bargain was the first of Deeanne Gist’s novels that I had read. I just happened upon it at a library sale and decided to give it a try. It was also the first historical romance novel I had read. My tastes normally lean towards non-fiction. I tend to be extremely picky when it comes to fiction. That being said, I LOVED this book! This was the book that made me give historical fiction a try. Deeanne Gist is an excellent author. When reading her novels, you can tell that she has done extensive research on her subject and has an eye for details. The historical fact and content is remarkable. Her description of the setting made me feel like I was really there. She also has a talent for witty and engaging dialogue. Bride in the Bargain is a clean romance with a Christian theme, but it’s not overtly Christian. Gist does an excellent job of incorporating sexual tension and awareness without crossing the line into obscene or uncomfortable. As I said before, it’s a clean romance, but the author is honest and real when describing the feelings between a man and a woman. I am a Christian and I did not find any part of this book uncomfortable or obscene/dirty.
The novel takes place in 1860s Seattle, in the heart of redwood timber and lumber operations. Redwood timber may be plentiful, but women are scarce. Yet a man with a wife could secure 640 acres of timberland for free. Joe Denton runs a successful lumber operation. His problem? He doesn’t have a wife. His died before she could follow him to Seattle. Here’s the catch: Joe Denton must have a wife or he will lose half of his land and lumber operation. Because of this, he "buys" a wife from back east.
Unfortunately the bride he has "bought" has no intention of marrying and is under the impression that she has come west to be a cook. They quickly realize they’ve been scammed. I don’t want to give too much away, so I won’t say anymore on that particular matter. Anna Ivey came out west to get away from a bad situation and for a fresh start…. As a cook. Anna is a spunky, independent individual. She also carries a lot of misplaced guilt (I won’t give the source of the guilt away). Both Joe and Anna decide to make the best of the situation that was handed to them, with Anna working as a cook for Joe and Joe looking into buying another bride. But of course, things just don’t work out as planned. Joe ends up with the ultimatum, either convince Anna to marry him or lose half his land/company. Will Joe Denton be able to convince Anna Ivey to marry him? Or will he lose his land? Little does either of them know they are both in danger of losing their hearts.
I liked the character of Joe Denton. He’s big, strong, and very masculine. He’s a good man and a hard worker. But we soon find out that the tough lumberjack has a soft, gentle side. Anna Ivey’s character is a bit more complicated. I liked her character as well, but there were a few things I felt were a bit ridiculous about her. Although I will say that those nuances are explained in the book. We learn why she thinks and feels the way she does. I thought the love story between the two was sweet. They are very physically aware of each other, but never crossed the line. The author grazes over the wedding night. It’s implied but never actually detailed or talked about.
When reading this story, we all know how it will end. That being said, we don’t know what will happen during the journey to the end. There’s a twist towards the middle of the book that you won’t see coming. Overall, this was an excellent book, one that I plan on reading over and over again. This novel sparked my love for Deeanne Gist books! I would recommend it to anyone who’s looking for a great historical romance or even someone who’s just looking for a good, clean read.
****Can we talk about the Cover Photo for the Book for just a second? Fun Fact: That is Gist’s daughter modeling on the Cover of this novel. I’m sure that was very cool for both Mother and Daughter! I really like the gown the model is wearing. I’ve always been interested in all things history and old, and I particularly like the beautiful gowns worn back then. Ok I’m finished! ;) *******
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Liz Austin. Bibliophile. Writer. Book hoarder. I would rather be reading....