The past few months I have been blessed to be the recipient of numerous books either from contest wins or authors who graciously allow me to review their books. After a few of these such instances, I noticed a common theme running through the books that came in my mail: many of them were either single novellas or novellas as part of a larger collection. As I have so many books to read and review–but could not fathom the idea of passing up any of these stories–I decided to work a feature into my website; thus, Novella Feature was born! Each novella that I read–either as stand alone or part of a collection–will be reviewed on A Way With Words. Novellas are popular with readers but generally do not garner as much attention as full-length novels. I hope to change that situation by featuring what I find to be enjoyable in the novellas I have given to read and review. From the Love Inspired line (Harlequin) to collections featuring brides and grooms, to stories of Southern charm, surely one of these novellas will fit your reading preferences. Enjoy!
A Bride for a Bargain by Amanda Barratt
Collection: The Most Eligible Bachelor
Publishing date: May 2015
Synopsis: Wealthy tycoon, Geoffrey Buchanan is tired of being hunted by women. So when he hires a down on her luck factory girl to pose as his fiancée during a posh house party, he expects nothing more than a business transaction. He doesn’t intend for sweet and stubborn Ada McClane to invade his life and win his heart so completely. But sometimes what we bargain for, and what we truly need, are two completely different things.
There were many aspects to The Most Eligible Bachelor that first caught my attention upon finding the collection on Goodreads: a beautiful cover, an enticing title, stories from authors that I had not yet read but had heard many good things about. I had every reason already to want to read this novella collection, but in all honesty, the most significant factor that drew me to The Most Eligible Bachelor was the novella written by Ms. Amanda Barratt. While I did not actually meet this young author in person at the ACFW conference last fall, the positive remarks I heard about her writing immediately sparked my interest–enough that eight months later I remembered her and knew enough that I wanted to read her work.
The instinct that told me to hang on for this author’s work was correct: with a writing style that belies her youthful age, a plot that cleverly twists the typical historical romance, and characters with both spunk and charm, A Bride for a Bargain is one novella that I truly wished was longer than its ninety pages. I read this novella in less than three hours–and while I raced through it because I literally did not want to put the book down, the story was over far sooner than I wished. I love A Bride for a Bargain and will definitely re-read this novella in the future.
Barratt’s first published story is one, on the outset, that could come across as typical Christian historical fiction; however, beyond the wealthy bachelor and poor heroine trope, this novella takes on a life of its own. Ada McClane, the heroine, is much more than the common leading lady: while she strives to take care of her ill younger sibling, much like many heroines, Ada has the independence, spunk, wit, and intelligence that could easily carry A Bride for a Bargain all on its own. I found Ada particularly endearing because she was able to hold both her independent streak and her desire for femininity all at once. Barratt blended these characteristics so well that I easily imagined Ada as the type of woman all females would have found inspirational in this time period. Geoffrey Buchanan, Ada’s hero and foil, is the perfect opposite to Barratt’s heroine. Strong and silent where Ada is at times open and opinionated, Geoffrey is the wounded hero that becomes open to love–and subsequently makes all women–fictional or real–fall for him. He is the romantic that all women long for, with his tender and kind-hearted gestures, willingness to let Ada come into her own, and protective nature.
A Bride for a Bargain also shines with its themes of self-reliance and God’s faithfulness. With a wisdom that, again, supersedes her years, Barratt demonstrates that age is not an indicator of how well a person knows God. As her characters find in this first novella, often times it is simply blind faith in God that helps people get their trials and challenges. Ada McClane’s circumstances show the best of sibling relationships, and this heroine’s simple but profound statements of faith will surely resonate with readers as Ada teaches Geoffrey about God’s love. Barratt’s key word in her title–bargain–is brought up in numerous ways: what people bargain for in love, in their faith, in their circumstances, and in their relationships. By the end of A Bride for a Bargain readers will understand that bargains are best left aside because is the one who has our lives in His hands.
I would love to read more about Ada and Geoffrey, but since that will most likely remain a wish, I am content to eagerly await Barratt’s next novella, The Substitute Wife, coming this summer from Barbour’s Most Convenient Bride collection.
RATING: 5/5 stars
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Amanda Barratt is a historical romance author with two novellas soon to be published. The first “A Bride for a Bargain,” will release May, 2015 as part of Barbour’s “The Most Eligible Bachelor Romance Collection.” The second, “The Substitute Wife,” will debut in July, 2015 as part of “The Convenient Bride Collection,” also by Barbour. She has won several awards for her work and enjoys writing about eras such as Regency and Victorian England, and the Gilded Age.
A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, she is represented by Rachel Kent, of Books and Such Literary Agency. She lives in northern Michigan with her family, where she reads way too many old books, watches period dramas to come up with new plot-lines, and dreams of taking a trip to England.
Find Amanda at the following places online:
Facebook: Amanda M. Barratt