The Marriage Merger
Fans of Probst’s Marriage to a Billionaire books will find The Marriage Merger to be a fitting new (and possibly last) addition to the series. Although this book breaks no new ground, it provides a fun enough read that will satisfy readers of the Probst’s earlier works who have been hungrily awaiting a new installment. For those that are unfamiliar with the other Conte family books, this story offers enough independence from the others that it can be read easily on its own.
The Conte family runs a successful chain of bakeries known as La Dolce Famiglia . Oldest daughter, Julietta, took over as top executive after her father passed away and her brother moved on to running the American branch of the bakery. A potential merger with a new hotel chain brings her in contact with friend of the family and bad-boy hotelier, Sawyer Wells. A huge plus in Probst’s favor is that she knows how to write zinging chemistry between her characters, and Julie and Sawyer are no exception. Sawyer is instantly attracted to Julie from their initial repartee and decides he wants to get her in bed. Julie, however, has devoted her life and all her attention to running the family business.
Admittedly, Julie didn’t totally work for me as a character. I liked her verbal sparring with Sawyer, but I was surprised by how insecure she was. I would have liked a successful, beautiful woman like her to have some self-confidence. Her self-doubt comes from a string of ho-hum relationships and her own sexual hang-ups. While I could totally understand this on some characters, it didn’t fit Julietta for me. I think I get a little tired of female leads being described as unbelievably gorgeous and sexy, but then being told that guys are never interested in them and they have to spend all their time as sexy yet lonely spinsters. I think readers know that it rarely works that way in real life.
Sawyer’s troubled past and sexuality lent the story some much-needed excitement. I found his character more believable and I particularly liked his interactions with Wolfe, a young man he has taken on as a sort of ward. We previously met Sawyer in Carina’s book, so I was already primed to like him. I assume Wolfe will be getting his own story and I really look forward to reading that one as well.
This book does have some very slight elements of BDSM. Sawyer proclaims to use it to let out some of his darker side. However, with Julie, there was never anything too extreme. Most of their sexual interactions were about Sawyer taking control so that Julie would relax and enjoy herself, for once. The sex scenes are definitely hot, albeit a little drawn out. Their first encounter, for example, may have been one of the longest sex scenes I’ve ever read.
Now, the marriage part of the story was incredibly unbelievable. All of the books in this series have dealt with the couple falling into some sort of marriage of convenience or arranged marriage, so I expected it. However, unlike some of the earlier books, this one didn’t have slightest amount of logic to it. In the first book of the series, The Marriage Bargain, Alexa and Nicholas set up their marriage as a mutually beneficial agreement and that worked for me more. In this book, Julie and Sawyer get married because her mother says to. Seriously, that is the only justification. Sawyer agrees because he feels like he owes Mama Conte a favor for helping him out when he was young. Julie agrees because she thinks it is what her father would’ve wanted for her. In this day and age, I just don’t consider that enough reason for two people who are having a sexual fling to get married against their will.
The Marriage Merger let readers catch up with all of the couples from the previous books. The family gets together a few times to celebrate the marriage and we get to see how life has turned out for all of the pairs from books one through three. For fans of the series, this will be a little trip down memory lane before the end of the series. For new readers, all of the names and relationships may get a little confusing, especially once you throw in all the new babies. I would recommend that new readers to the series start with the first book, The Marriage Bargain. Not just because it came out first, but also because I think it is the best of the four.
Had this book had a more believable premise surrounding the marriage and had Julie been slightly more likeable, I think this could have been a really highly rated book for me. Even with those issues, I still enjoyed the story and I look forward to reading more by Probst. A lonely woman being swept off her feet by a devilishly handsome yet troubled millionaire is certainly nothing original, if you enjoy that style of romance, you’ll enjoy The Marriage Merger .