- Paperback: 217 pages
- Publisher: Dell Publishing (September 1981)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0440104238
- ISBN-13: 978-0440104230
- Package Dimensions: 6.6 x 4.1 x 0.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,477,602 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Bargain with the Devil (Candlelight Ecstasy Romance) Paperback – September, 1981
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The premise of the book is that the hero, Hunter, is out to revenge himself upon the heroine's family for a decades-old business deal involving their fathers. Rather than get his revenge through shrewd business tactics or something along those lines, Hunter decides that the best way to make the Ryan patriarch pay is to seduce the heroine's brother's brainless and self-centered wife. The idea being that the brother will be so devastated and distracted by his wife's infidelity that he'll let the company, of which he's now in charge, go straight down the tubes. It's one of the most idiotic plans I've ever seen in a book. But even more idiotic is when the heronie, Stacy, witnesses Hunter working the wife over with his "irresistible" charms and jumps in to offer herself in the wife's place. She convinces Hunter that his revenge will be all the sweeter if he lays claim to a full-blooded Ryan daughter rather than just a daughter-in-law.
Hunter agrees and immediately shifts his revenge plans to include "turning a Ryan woman into a Manning woman." He insists that they get married, not just have an affair, because it'll make his revenge all that much more devastating to her father. Stacy somehow feels that she's got no alternative but to agree to marriage. She couldn't, say, tell her brother and his wife what Hunter was up to or anything like that. They announce their engagement a scant five minutes later and the brother's wife shoots daggers at Stacy and makes nasty comments to her while very obviously throwing herself at Hunter for the rest of the book. Her husband is completely oblivious to this until Hunter finally clues him in and gives him "advice" on how to force his little woman to fall in line.
Like I said, the premise of the book is completely ridiculous and unbelievable, but once things hit the road the story isn't TOO offensive. There are quite a few questionable scenes where Stacy rebels against Hunter's high-handed tactics and Hunter responds with a lot of threatening Neanderthal talk about how she belongs to him and as his wife she has a duty to behave the way he requires. He threatens to beat her on a couple of occasions but thankfully never does. His solution to virtually every problem is a good sound boinking and despite all her protests and speeches about standing her ground, Stacy falls for this tactic every time.
It's eye-rollingly indicative of the mentality of romance novels in this period that all women just need (and secretly long for) a strong, intractable man to come into their lives and dictate their every move. That they're all completely at the mercy of their hormones and if a man can show a woman a good time in the bedroom she'll be his willing slave for life. And happily abandon anything she formerly cared about to remaking herself in the man's image of a perfectly obedient little woman.
All in all it's a silly book that highlights everything that was ridiculous about romance novels from the early 80's, but it's far from the most offensive one I've read. I can't say I recommend it to anyone but it's not necessary to hold a book-burning party either.
Hunter Manning was zeroing in on Stacey Ryland's beautiful "blonde" sister-in-law. Her brother's marriage was new, and he was under pressure taking over the family business, so it left his new wife wide-open for Hunter to target. He has come to Arizona, to extract revenge for his father's death. Stacey's powerful and greedy father forced out Manning's father in a leveraged buyout, and within a year Manning's father was dead. Manning blamed Ryland. Now fourteen years later, the time has come to extract vengeance. He has decided to seduce Stacey's sister-in-law, so distract her brother from business, thus can bring the Ryland empire down.
Only, Hunter did not count on Stacey. She derails Hunter's plan by offering herself as payment for his vengeance. She convinces him, why bother with the sister-in-law when you can go after the daughter. Her offer is to pretend they are having an affair, but Hunter makes a counter offer of marriage. He wants a "Ryland woman he can make into a Manning woman". What she does not tell him is there is no love loss between Stacey and her father, and Hunter marrying her will not hurt her father as Hunter imagines.
Within days, Stacey finds herself married and on her wedding night, her father calls and tells Hunter he knows Hunter married Stacey for vengeance, but it won't work, because there is little affection between father and daughter. Hunter is not pleased and now the marriage is off to rough start.
The premise seems a bit forced. It's hard for the reader to believe Stacey would marry a man who was nearly a total stranger, and make no effort to get to know him before the marriage, just to keep Hunter from going after her brother. If you can get past that and ignore the "make a Ryland witch into a Manning witch", "...or I'll give you the beating you deserve" or "my woman" tossed in repetitively from the nearly Tarzan chest thumping hero, it's a good read; just know going in you have to put up with these problems.