A Beggar's Bargain

Fiction - Literary
324 Pages
Reviewed on 03/08/2024
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Michelle Robertson for Readers' Favorite

In A Beggar’s Bargain by Jan Sikes, Layken Martin was discharged from the army after serving in World War II and headed back to his hometown of Everton, Missouri. This trip, however, was not a joyous occasion. Layken was welcomed home with the sad news that his family farm was on the verge of foreclosure since it had remained empty for a year after the deaths of his parents. Out of options, Layken goes into town to negotiate with the local bank to give him time to rebuild the family farm. The banker, however, refuses to budge on any negotiations. What is Layken left to do? His farm of over a hundred years will go to ruin! Then, to his surprise, the banker has a highly odd proposition. Marry his daughter, Sara Beth, in exchange for a 2-year extension to pay his debts. With no other choice, Layken could not refuse. His future depended on him being able to restore the farm and begin a life with a stranger.

A Beggar’s Bargain by Jan Sikes is an incredible story. The author offers her readers a well-developed, detailed plot and characters. Given the period in which the story takes place, Jan has done an extensive amount of research to create a post-1945 scene in a small country town in Missouri. The hardships, atmosphere, emotions, mannerisms, descriptions of clothing, and circumstances of the characters are all very well written. It is like reading a page right out of a personal diary of an ancestor. I enjoyed this novel very much and would recommend it to all readers who enjoy learning or reading about what life might have been like in the past in a small town or on a farm.

Alicia DeBerry

What are you willing to do when you are desperate, and everything is at an end? Author Jan Sikes explores this question by introducing Layken Martin, a World War II veteran in A Beggar’s Bargain. Layken returns to his hometown of Missouri after being discharged to find a foreclosure notice from the bank for his family farm. He wants to honor his father’s dying wish and keep the farm going. The banker rejected his initial offer but later changed his mind, giving him a proposition -- marry his daughter Sara Beth in exchange for a two-year extension. Layken agrees. Will he be able to find the healing he longs for after the war and turn a profit with the land while also becoming a husband? If he fails, all will be lost.

Jan Sikes reveals different sides of humanity from the negative to the positive in A Beggar’s Bargain. I was left feeling hopeful with thoughts that love will prevail. Layken, and the legacy his mother and father left behind, highlight honor, integrity, kindness, and loyalty. The theme of helpful neighbors and a strong community became clear when a fire struck Layken’s farm. All the neighbors his parents helped in the past showed their support to restore what was lost. I enjoyed the relationship Layken and Sara Beth created, going from strangers being forced to marry to falling in love. Their actions to keep working hard to make things work lead to romance. I recommend this book to readers who enjoy drama and realistic fiction.

K.C. Finn

A Beggar's Bargain is a work of fiction penned by author Jan Sikes in the literary style and the recent historical and family saga subgenres. It is best suited to the general adult reading audience. Layken Martin returns home from World War II to find his family farm in ruins and facing imminent foreclosure. Desperate to save the farm and honor his father's dying wish, Layken seeks an extension from the local banker, only to be denied. In a shocking turn of events, the banker proposes an alternative: marry his unwanted daughter, Sara Beth, in exchange for a two-year extension on the loan. With no other options left, Layken agrees to the bargain, knowing that he now has two years to rebuild his life on the farm while navigating marriage to a stranger, all with the threat of losing everything looming over him.

Author Jan Sikes has crafted a highly immersive and emotive tale of desperation, sacrifice, and unexpected alliances against the backdrop of post-World War II America, a perfect combination in a gripping novel filled with powerful highs and lows. Layken's struggles and the difficult choices he faces resonate deeply, drawing the reader into his world with close narration, and evoking a wide range of emotions that sink in deeply. Sikes's vivid storytelling and compelling character work also extend into the ensemble cast and smaller roles, populating this post-war world with realistic people on the edge of survival after a world-shaking event. I was also impressed with the level of historical detail in the day-to-day struggles of life on the farm and in such austere times. Overall, A Beggar's Bargain was a truly captivating read that left a lasting impression, and I would certainly recommend it to fans of historical family dramas everywhere.

Linda Broday

Readers of historical literary fiction will love this story of sacrifice and determination. It reminded me a lot of Sarah Plain and Tall. From hardship comes great things.