*Sponsored | The Hard Bargain by Julie Tetel Andresen is the third and final book in her Love and the City trilogy. I also read the first book, DeMarco’s Café, the second Love After All, and shared my literary date book reviews. Just like with the first two, I will include my book review along with the kind of literary date in the city, The Hard Bargain might inspire. This book is a swift and fun read. Let’s get to it!
Like with Love After All, The Hard Bargain also has two settings- NYC and a cruise vacation. It has fewer NYC locations than the rest of the books, so I may just have to go on a cruise for this one. I’ll start a GoFund Me. 😉
*Book was gifted and this is a sponsored post in collaboration with CTS Agency and author Julie Tetel Andresen. All opinions are my own.
The Hard Bargain Synopsis
The ultra-wealthy Arthur Wexler is in a bind, he needs a faux fiancée for just one afternoon to convince his aunt he’s set to be married lest she invokes the clause that he’ll lose out on his inheritance if he’s not married in a year’s time. Yes, old-fashioned and arbitrary but instead of trying to fight his aunt, he promptly relayed his fiancée would be at Sunday dinner. What could go wrong?
Well, first he needs a faux fiancée, but thankfully he has a theatre friend who connects him with Carla Pereira, just the actor for the job. The gig pays well so Carla happily accepts. In fact, Carla does so well at the dinner that her “part” gets extended to the family’s annual week-long Caribbean cruise vacay.
Carla comes from humble beginnings and a shady past with a complicated family history. As an actor, Carla is scraping by so this opportunity is something she can’t pass up.
When feelings become involved, it muddies things up because Carla knows that with her history there’s just no way for her to be a part of the prestigious Wexler family. Carla has secrets that she wants to stay buried so that’s why when she’s back in NYC, she cuts Arthur off completely.
Arthur realizes his own feelings and is left to wonder what happened to her and is there a way to get her back?
The Hard Bargain by Julie Tetel Andresen is a lovely romance, it’s a quick and easy read. As far-fetched as the premise is, ultimately, it’s a romance that shows love can be simple and not overcomplicated.
This book seemed a little on the short side but if you’re looking for something light and romantic then this book is what you need. It’s the perfect book to read on a sunny day while sipping cocktails on the beach or poolside.
With every romance book, you do need to suspend your disbelief a bit, I was, however, surprised by how easily Carla negotiated the cruise trip and readily went on it. She took a little time to think it over but she didn’t seem at all concerned about her safety in the whole matter.
Maybe I’ve watched too many episodes of Dateline but I definitely would have been worried about being kidnapped and sold into some human trafficking horror.
I’ll admit, I am a paranoid person…Carla did get to know Arthur and his family a little bit and they had a mutual friend. Also, Google probably helped Carla figure out he wasn’t some nutter, since Arthur comes from a wealthy, influential family. He’s not some Tinder Swindler.
One other small issue I had is that Carla’s family history was touched upon a little but I would have been more intrigued if that aspect was alluded to more during the cruise. What Carla ultimately struggles with in terms of a relationship with Arthur, I think came a little too late in the story.
All of these things were sprinkled in a little bit throughout the story but I think more would have made the story even more interesting. It is, after all, a very compelling part of the story.
Overall though, I enjoyed how Carla and Arthur’s romance developed. I loved the conversations they had, again like in her two previous books in the trilogy, Julie Tetel Andresen writes smart characters and stories that evolve in a natural, thoughtful rhythm.
No steamy scenes in this book but the romance will make you believe true, simple love is out there. No bs, I like you, you like me, let’s do this. Love does not have to be that complicated.
Potential Literary Date for The Hard Bargain by Julie Tetel Andresen
While there may be fewer NYC spots to hit in this book, I still think The Hard Bargain could inspire a solid tour of New York. Shall we begin?
Food & Drinks
I can always go for some diner food. This spot has an Avocado Eggs Benedict that I’d be all over. They also have Belgian waffles with ice cream and whipped cream. I don’t know if that’s breakfast or dessert but I don’t really care, give it to me! And they have ten different kinds of grilled cheese sandwiches. Yum!
This spot gets a mention in the book but the characters don’t actually go here. But it’s a good spot for brunch, so I’d definitely be interested in going. I’m intrigued mostly by their “Adult Grilled Cheese” because it’s made with three kinds of cheese and it’s on pretzel bread. Adulting never sounded so good!
This is fancy-schmancy Arthur’s kind of place. Not a spot I’ve ever thought about going to but maybe I could go see how the other half lives? This Michelin guide recommended restaurant is in Soho and serves French fare from breakfast to dinner.
I think I would go for dinner and start with the warm goat cheese and caramelized onion tart before moving on to the butternut squash risotto with truffle crème fraîche and aged balsamic and finally finishing off with a crème brûlée. Bon appétit!
Carla, in The Hard Bargain, has brunch at this spot but on the website, I just see lunch, however, NYC is known for brunch on the weekends so I’m sure Carla did have brunch here. This looks like another spot that the other half goes to because for lunch it’s an automatic $145 per person. Wowzers!
I only see about ten items on the menu which is usually how fancy spots do it. Diners have 1000 menu items and you go to a fancy spot and maybe they do five things to perfection? Who knows? I certainly don’t.
I don’t even know if the W Hotel in Union Square has a terrace bar but with how tall that building is, it should! And I for one would love to see it. I love a good view. If Carla and Arthur have been, I know it must be there.
Events and Activities
I think to truly experience this spot, one would have to be a member, however, they have galleries with exhibits that are free and open to the public. I’ve never heard of this spot, so I’d be curious to see some art at this spot, and free? Who says NYC is expensive? Just need to know where to go!
Theater Night Event in Soho
This may just be a fictional event these characters attend but it sounds like something that would really exist in the city. They went to schmooze with people in the industry. Actors can make some good contacts if they are lucky enough to score an invite.
So while I wouldn’t be able to do anything like that for this literary date, I could use The Hard Bargain to inspire me to see a good Off-Broadway show. After all, Carla is an actor and I used to act and love the theater so it’s right up my alley.
SoHo Playhouse sounds like just the spot! They currently have two shows that sound awesome. In Pinkalicious The Musical, Pinkalicious can’t stop eating pink cupcakes. She ends up at the doctor getting diagnosed with Pinktitis, which turns her pink from head to toe and she couldn’t be happier about it. This show sounds adorable!
Another cool-sounding show there is Mr. Yunioshi, where Asian-American writer/performer J.Elijah Cho uses Mickey Rooney’s controversial performance of Mr. Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany’s to explore the questions surrounding what are appropriate roles for actors to perform? Should they have the opportunity to play any role? Could there have been a right way for Mickey Rooney to play Mr. Yunioshi?
I’d be very interested in seeing this play. And I bet Carla and Arthur would be curious to see this play too.
Washington Square Park
I think this famous spot gets a mention in all of the Love and the City books. And guess what? I’m not mad about it. It’s such a fun area to go to. There’s always something going on and some kind of entertainment. It’s a great spot for people-watching.
I actually just went and lots of people were hanging out including musicians playing their songs and since the water wasn’t running in the fountain, skateboarders took it over despite signs that read, “No skateboarders.”
New York, always a rebel.
Designer clothes anyone? Let’s hire a personal stylist and go! Oh wait, I know…I need to find a man who is about to lose out on his inheritance if he doesn’t have a fiancée to show off, so he’ll hire me to pose as his fiancée, and of course, I’ll have to look the part, so he’ll pay for my trip to Bergdorf’s. Done!
There are so many great neighborhoods in NYC. These are the ones featured in The Hard Bargain…
Carla lives in this neighborhood and I’ll have to admit that I haven’t explored this neighborhood too much because it’s a bit far out there. Never too late though! I could explore Avenues A, B, C, and maybe even D. That might be pushing it though.
I think I’d need to pretend I’m in my twenties and go on a dive bar crawl here. However, this neighborhood has some community gardens that I could check out, which might be more my speed these days. Also wouldn’t mind checking out the Nuyorican Poets Café.
This apartment building is mentioned in The Hard Bargain too because Arthur lives here. Since this building was also featured in Love After All, my curiosity got the best of me so I did check it out while I was in the area. It doesn’t look as nice as I imagined but I think it’s because of all the scaffolding from the construction they currently are doing.
In Google images, it looks better and if you go on StreetEasy, you can virtually tour some of the million+ apartments. They do look very nice! I’d live here. And living right in the heart of Greenwich Village right near Washington Square Park would be fantastic.
Arthur’s office is at One State Street, which is right in Battery Park. I always love hanging out by the water over there. I could take a ride on the SeaGlass Carousel or sit by the water with a good book.
Okay, technically this isn’t in NYC because this neighborhood is in Jersey. Carla grew up here and would like to go back.
Let’s forget that we talked about Jersey. We don’t talk about Jersey, no, no, no!
This concludes the potential literary date for The Hard Bargain. It actually seems like it could be a very full tour, more than I had originally anticipated. I think it’s full of fun stuff to do. What sounds good to you? What would you want to do? Let me know in the comments. Thank you!
Love and the City
I truly enjoyed these “Three Big Apple Romances” set in NYC. It was a pleasure reading all of them and sharing these stories and potential literary dates with you all.
Julie Tetel Andresen has written over 30 romance novels along with being a Professor of Linguistics at Duke University and a world traveler. Julie’s background has surely helped shape her writing, her books are filled with smart and interesting characters with fun and delightful romantic stories.
Learn more about Julie and her romance novels on her website at JulieTetelAndresen.com.
Thank you all for reading and thank you to Julie Tetel Andresen for sharing your stories with me. It was my absolute pleasure to read them.