I am in love with The Artful Bargain, Audrey Lynden’s latest contemporary romance, the first in a series set in my home state of Wisconsin. Yes, I love all the references to an area of the state I love best, but the chief reason for my adoration are her characters. Museum curator, Claire Beaumont, is on a mission. She needs one particular piece to add to her first major exhibit featuring artwork with a steampunk theme. She goes to collect the piece, a sculpture titled Coal or Steam, only to find that its British creator, Sinjin Reid, knows nothing about the exhibition. Claire realizes that she’s has been set up to fail by her loathsome boss, Larry. Sinjin realizes that Larry and his ex-wife are trying to steal his sculpture. After his ex-wife trapped him into marriage and then cheated on him, Sinjin has big-time trust issues. Claire’s got a huge secret, one that could ruin her and any chance she might have with a career in the art world or a relationship with Sinjin. Still, Sinjin and Claire agree on two things: they both hate Larry and want to take him down, and they are wildly attracted to each other. Together, they devise a plan to make Claire’s exhibit a success while setting a trap for Larry and SInjin’s ex-wife. Perhaps the defining aspect of Lynden’s writing is the secondary characters who represent the kind of love and warmth we all want from our friends and family. It’s a world one can step into and never want to leave.