The Bargain by Jane Ashford is Regency with a supernatural twist. If you’re in the mood for a romance with a touch of mystery but don’t mind a slower pace, this book may be just what you’re looking for.
This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, Sweet Savage Flame earns a small percentage from qualifying purchases.The Bargain by Jane Ashford
Published: 1997; 2014
Illustrator: TBD, James Griffin
Published by: Bantam, Sourcebooks
Genres: Historical Romance, Regency Era Romance
Format: eBook, Free Book Won in Goodreads Contest, Paperback
Buy on: Amazon, AbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon
This review is of The Bargain by Jane Ashford, real name Jane LeCompte. It is a book I won in a Goodreads contest. Therefore, this is a review of the 2014 Sourcebooks reissue and not the original 1997 Bantam original release.
The book begins at a party at the home of George Augustus Frederick, the Prince Regent of England and Ireland. Among the guests at the party is Lord Alan Gresham, the sixth son of the Duke of Langford, a fellow of science at Balliol College.
Gresham has been summoned to the house by “Prinny” to investigate the “ghost” that is haunting the house. The “ghost” is believed to be Tess Harding, an actress and former paramour of “Prinny’s.”
Also attending the party is Ariel Harding, the heroine of the book and Tess’ daughter. Ariel wants to know the circumstances surrounding her mother’s death. Due to the fact that both have access to information and knowledge that the other doesn’t possess, Gresham and Ariel become very reluctant partners in the investigation.
As the investigation goes on, Ariel befriends three of Alan’s five brothers, helps them with their relationship issues, and finds out the identity of her father, whom she never knew.
Ariel begins a relationship with her father, Daniel Bolton, who also does a little matchmaking to help his newfound daughter with her relationship with Alan.
Eventually, three of Alan’s brothers find love, the mystery is solved, Alan discovers he loves Ariel, and they have their Happily Ever After.
This is a typical Regency romance novel. It has a very sweet core at its center. The characters of Alan and Ariel are well-written, and there are likable supporting characters.
I found it very believable that these two people would fall in love.
The book lacks pepper and passion. This is not a hot, steamy romance but more of a “slow burn that develops over time” type of romance.
While I do appreciate having three of Alan’s brothers find romance in this book, it would have been nicer from my perspective for Ms. Ashford to have given each Gresham brother his own story.
The resolution of the mystery comes from out of the blue and is not set up in any way, which, from my perspective, makes it feel a bit tacked on. We never find out entirely why Bess Harding committed suicide.
Two love scenes that are pretty mild.
The steam factor here is sweet and slow, building to some gentle warmth.
At the end of the book, Ariel and others are assaulted and tied up. A murder takes place. None of the violence is graphic.
Bottom Line on The Bargain
This was not the best Regency I’ve ever read–there are too many holes for that. But Jane Ashford’s The Bargain is a very good book.
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Synopsis (2014 Sourcebooks Reissue)
Celebrate the 80th birthday of Regency Romance with great books from Sourcebooks Casablanca! Introducing the Gresham family…
A Scientifically Minded Nobleman Learns the Breathless Chemistry of Desire Lord Alan Gresham is the sixth son of the Duke of Langford and, as such, has been allowed to remain at Oxford to pursue his scientific studies. When the prince regent asks him to debunk the “ghost” of a dead actress haunting Carlton House, he cannot refuse and is forced back to the Society he deplores.
But upon meeting the daughter of the alleged ghost, his calm, logical investigation is disrupted. Ariel Harding doesn’t believe in ghosts, but she’s determined to investigate this haunting. Her mother recently committed suicide, and Ariel is desperate to find the reason. She’ll work with Alan because he has access to Prinny’s resources, but she never dreamed she’d make a perilous bargain with a man who’s as maddeningly arrogant as he is confoundedly attractive.The Bargain by Jane Ashford
Synopsis (Bantam Original)
It’s more than ridiculous, it’s damned embarrassing and inconvenient…for a scientist with his reputation to be called in to get rid of a ghost. But when the Prince Regent summons Lord Alan Gresham to London to solve the mystery of a haunting, he has no choice. At least the task shouldn’t take much time. He will uncover the perpetrators of the hoax and then return with speed to his experiments. Or so Gresham thinks, until he finds his calm, logical investigation disrupted by a maddeningly forthright beauty.
Ariel Harding has her own reasons for wanting to catch the ghost. Yet when she slips into Carlton House uninvited, she never dreams she’ll end up locked in a closet with an arrogant, opinionated, yet undeniably attractive scientist…or that she’ll wind up making a perilous bargain with the very same man. They agree to exchange information — and nothing more. But neither plans on the most confounding of scientific occurrences: the breathless chemistry of desire.The Bargain by Jane Ashford