The Bargain is the retitled, edited, and expanded version of Putney’s 1989 release The Would Be Widow. I never read the original, so I cannot make comparisons, but I quite enjoyed the rerelease.
The romance centers around Jocelyn Kendal and Major David Lancaster. Jocelyn must marry to keep her inheritance and independence—immediately. Although she has her sights set on the Duke of Canover, their courtship remains in the beginning stages. She does not press the Duke of Canover to fit her marriage deadline, especially when she sees an opportunity in the dying soldier, Major David Lancaster.
Jocelyn strikes a bargain with David, succumbing to his wounds from Waterloo. If he marries her so she may keep her inheritance, she’ll care for his sister after his death. Jocelyn and David marry underneath the terms of this bargain—requiring his death, but a miracle happens. He recovers and lives.
David’s survival was never a consideration, which ruins Jocelyn’s plans for the Duke of Canover. However, David begins to court and fall in love with his wife. Another complication, as Jocelyn only acknowledges him as a friend.
Of course, as romances go, Jocelyn comes to return David’s love. The time it takes for her to recognize this love sometimes hinders the likeability of her character, but this is necessary for her character development. David’s character, on the other hand, is everything I love in a hero. Honorable, dashing, charming. His courtship of Jocelyn offers many of the book’s most engaging scenes, and his brush with death is perhaps why any reader would be suckered into adoring him. Although the heroin may sometimes be perceived as cold, I recommend this book for David’s character.