Book Title: The Bachelor Bargain by Maddison Michaels

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This story started off strong and just kept on going right through to the end! We open with a funeral, following the suspicious death of the heroine's friend, which sets off a plan to get justice for her. I loved the group of women who led the charge, and I really felt an immediate fondness for all three of them. Maddison Michaels did an excellent job of endearing me to the characters early on, and I was very quickly invested in their goal of seeing womanizing men be brought to justice for their crimes. While the plot was fairly predictable (I figured out the villain almost as soon as they are introduced in the story), the way to the resolution was not, and I enjoyed the twists and turns that kept coming. This is a great book if you're feeling in the mood for a romance with mystery, murder, and a hero who blends right in with both.

Her friend has been murdered, and Lady Olivia Haliford will not let her friend's death go unanswered. With the public thinking she committed suicide and Olivia believing her friend had a plan for a better life in America, there is only one thing left to do - find the man who killed her and bring him to justice. Partnering with her two friends, they hatch a plan to create a monthly gazette that will expose all the dirty secrets of the men in the ton, to prevent any other women from falling prey to their lascivious ways. However, in order to bring the gazette to life, they need money, and for money, they need a sponsor who is willing to bring the men of the ton to their knees. Who better than the Bastard of Baker Street, the King of the Rookeries, Sebastian Colver. Sebastian has hated the aristocracy, having grown up the bastard son of a duke who used his mother and threw her away when he was finished. This gazette sounds perfect, but Olivia wants a silent partner, and Sebastian has never been silent about any of his investments. Intrigued by the lady who doesn't back down from his scarred face, he agrees to work with her. And as things get heated between them, it's no longer just a business partnership. Now their feelings are involved, making things infinitely more complicated...and dangerous.

I found Olivia's character to be so interesting, from her strength in overcoming her physical restrictions (she walks with a cane due to a childhood accident that took her mother's life) and her determination to not let anyone else take advantage of her. She was a very inspiring woman, and I loved how she handled everyone around her. Her interactions with her godmother, the Dragon Duchess, had me laughing out loud, and she was so kind to Sebastian's sister. She was brave, which made her decisions towards the end of the book so confusing. Honestly, this book was a 5 star read until we had the odd twist at the end. And that's all I'll say without spoiling what happens. Everything works out - this is a romance, after all - but it was heart-wrenching to see how Olivia and Sebastian had to fight for their happily ever after. I really liked Sebastian, with his gruff demeanor, his ruthlessness towards the evil found in society, and while he was probably meant to seem scary, I was loving how protective he was towards Olivia. He had a violent and dangerous past, and he was willing to do whatever it took to keep her safe, but at the same time, he listened to Olivia's concerns and made sure she got what she needed. I liked that balance of a rough exterior with a considerate interior. He was a very complex hero, almost more complex than Olivia, though she had many layers as well.

This is the first book in the series, and I am excited that I'm starting with this book. The next book is sure to be engaging and exciting. I can't wait!

**I received a free copy via NetGalley and this is my honest review.**