A gentle romance, a non-fattening alternative to lift your spirit on a bad day

The Bargain - Christine S. Feldman

I saw this book advertised as a promo and after having a couple of pretty bad days I fancied a light read. I thought on reading the description that I’d happily watch a movie with that argument, and the novella delivered.

Both main characters, Shannon and Michael are likeable, but very different. He is handsome, a lady’s man and a bad boy, who comes back to town to try and prevent his brother from making a mistake that has to do with the family’s home (their parents died in an accident and due to his behaviour, all the money was left to the younger brother, Drew). Shannon is a wallflower, a young woman who was never encouraged or valued by her family, whose experience of high school was soul-destroying and who had to fight hard to get ahead. Although she eventually got a degree, a good job and a house (that she’s renovating herself as she’s handy with tools) through her own efforts, she lacks confidence in social situations, especially around men. She is in love (infatuated) with Drew and has been since High School, and working as his PA is both a dream and a nightmare (as she goes to pieces every time he’s around, and she’s all but invisible to him). Michael notices how she feels for his brother and offers her a bargain. He’ll help her get his brother’s attention if she talks to her boss about the family home.

Of course, you know where this is going. Shannon, who is inexperienced and innocent, manages to see beyond Michael’s bad boy reputation and attitude, and he falls for her too.

The novel is gentle, there are no surprises (the bad things Michael did when he was young aren’t extreme and apart from one of Drew’s admirers, nobody is openly hostile or horrible) and although we see the story from both protagonists’ points of view, and can empathise with their self-doubts, anxiety and feelings, there are no big dramas or nasty surprises.

It is a nice feel-good story, with no violence (OK there’s one punch) or sex and a pleasant quick read for a day when you can need a non-fattening alternative to chocolate to lift your spirits. Cheers!