Thursday, 6 February 2014

Books Read: Liz Harris - A Bargain Struck

Does a good deal make a marriage?

Widower Connor Maguire advertises for a wife to raise his young daughter, Bridget, work the homestead and bear him a son.

Ellen O'Sullivan longs for a home, a husband and a family. On paper, she is everything Connor needs in a wife. However, it soon becomes clear that Ellen has not been entirely truthful.

Will Connor be able to overlook Ellen's dishonesty and keep to his side of the bargain? Or will Bridget's resentment, the attentions of the beautiful Miss Quinn, and the arrival of an unwelcome visitor, combine to prevent the couple from starting anew?

As their personal feelings blur the boundaries of their deal, they begin to wonder if a bargain struck makes a marriage worth keeping.

Set in Wyoming in 1887, a story of a man and a woman brought together through need, not love...

Amazon links: Kindle or Paperback

Next up in this feature week is a review for A Bargain Struck by Liz Harris which I've had in my TBR pile for quite some time so apologies Liz and Choc Lit for the delay in reviewing this eBook.

Set in the late 19th century in Wyoming this was an interesting tale about two people who, having both lost the loves of their lives, come to a mutual agreement to marry but neither of them are looking for love.  Connor is looking for a wife to help on his homestead, look after his young daughter Bridget and provide him with an heir, whereas Ellen is just looking for somewhere to call home after not fitting in with her own family.  

But when Ellen arrives it's clear that she's not been entirely honest with him so will he still go ahead with the agreement? And how will the rest of the township react to the news and will they accept this newcomer into their close community?   

This was a really interesting concept for a storyline and one I really enjoyed reading, I can't even begin to imagine marrying as part of a business arrangement but I'm sure it was pretty commonplace at that time.  

Both Ellen and Connor were intriguing characters to get to know and the more you read about their past the more you understood why they'd come to such an arrangement, but as a sucker for romance I loved how the more time they spent together emotions came to the fore.  And as for young Bridget I totally understood how conflicted she was feeling, she didn't want a new mother but at the same time she needed one so that she could be a child rather than grow up too soon.

But there is so much more going on than just their story which was what made this a page turner of a read for me, I found myself wanting to keep reading to discover how it was all going to end.  

I really enjoyed reading A Bargain Struck so will definitely be looking to read more books from Liz in the future, infact I do have The Road Back and Evie Undercover which I've previously bought on my Kindle so just need to find the time to read them!


  1. Many thanks for those lovely comments, Sharon. I'm so glad that you enjoyed the novel.

    It was a fantastic book to write as I love the US, having lived there for some years in the past, and the novel gave me the perfect excuse to return there.

    Wyoming and its history was fascinating to research, and it was sheer joy to explore it first hand. In fact, I liked it so much that I found it impossible to leave that period and that setting for good, and I returned to Wyoming 1880 for A Western Heart, which I've just submitted to Choc Lit.

  2. Lovely review. Definitely going on my TBR pile.
    If it's anything as good as The Road Back, it will be a great read.

  3. A lovely review for a lovely book :)

  4. I thoroughly enjoyed the book too and look forward to your next Western story!

  5. I absolutely loved it! Original and romantic.

  6. Hallo, Hallo ChocLit gals & Ms. Sharon!

    Ooh, boy! I knew I was about to miss the dates for the wicked sweet ChocLit Focus Week!! I'm hosting a focus week myself right now for Seventh Star Press! Wicked how we each are highlighting awesome Indie Press selections!! I'm addicted in equal parts to both backlists!! (wicked smiles) And, this lovely book I had the pleasure of visiting not to long ago!

    I personally love the interworkings of marriage which were included in the story for Conn & Ellen! I wrote about all the dimensions of the story I loved in my review too! Books like ChocLit are too irresistible not to pass on the joy of reading them!

    I think there are still marriages of convenience like these happening even today. There are places where surviving through harsh climatical seasons is still a hard choice between marriage for love or marriage for a helping hand to make it through. I think the concept might feel foreign if we approach the story with our mentality of the 21st Century, but if we soak into it knowing its a different time to live inside, I think the concept fits perfectly to those who were struggling to sort out how to move forward after the death of a spouse. Meeting people then was not as easy as now, given the lack of proper meet-ups and ways in which to cross a woman's path. In some ways, I give people credit for falling in love at all!

    I completely concur with you! I cannot wait to read more books by Ms. Harris!

  7. Beverley, Kathryn, Angela, Margaret - thank you so much for those super comments about A Bargain Struck. Between all the lovely comments and Sharon's review, it has really made my day.

  8. Jorie - many thanks for your comments about A Bargain Struck and about the mail-order bride situation.

    Mail-order brides were frequently seen in the days of the American West as they made perfect sense in an environment where there was a man's work and a woman's work, and where life was harsh and childbirth fraught with danger.

    With survival being a priority, there frequently wasn't time to allow for the rituals of courtship and romantic love to take place in order for a lost partner to be replaced. Advertising for a spouse was a solution that answered the needs of both those who responded and the person who advertised.

    In order for a home to run successfully in the nineteenth century - particularly a home with children - there needed to be both a man and a woman. The reasons why one advertised and the other responded are fabulous food for romantic novelists!

    My inspiration for the novel, funnily enough, was an article on the British radio about the prevalence of mail-order brides in Russia today!

    Interesting comments, Jorie. Thank you for making them.