Series: The O'Malleys #2
Published by Forever on April 26th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Source: Rock Star Lit
Barnes & Noble
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Katee Robert continues her smoking-hot series about the O'Malleys—wealthy, powerful, and full of scandalous family secrets.
Carrigan O'Malley has always known her arranged marriage would be more about power and prestige than passion. But after one taste of the hard-bodied, whiskey-voiced James Halloran, she's ruined for anyone else. Too bad James and his family are enemy number 1.
Hallorans vs. O'Malleys—that's how it's always been. James should be thinking more about how to expand his family's empire instead of how silky Carrigan's skin is against his and how he can next get her into his bed. Those are dangerous thoughts. But not nearly as dangerous as he'll be if he can't get what he wants: Carrigan by his side for the rest of their lives.
I have to admit that at the end of The Marriage Contract, I had no idea how Katee Robert was going to get James and Carrigan together. This is where I love the guaranteed happy ending in romance novels. I love knowing it’s coming and having no idea how the author is going to pull it off, especially when it’s an author like Katee Robert who I trust completely to get it done and get it done well.
I’ve been trying to write an explanation of who’s who and which families are rivals and which are working together. And which are pretending to work together but actually trying to take each other down. I’m getting nowhere. Everything I’m writing is pretty convoluted. So I’ll put it in the simplest terms I can. Boston. 3 rival mob families – the O’Malleys, the Sheridans, and the Hallorans. James Halloran and Carrigan O’Malley.
Both the O’Malley family and the Halloran family have been ruled by overbearing patriarchs. Carrigan knows that she’s put her father off long enough. She’s twenty-eight, and the only value her father places on her is her ability to make a good (for him) marriage and produce some babies to further his line. To that end, her father gives her a list of men he has pre-selected as appropriate and says she has a month to make her choice and get married.
But Carrigan has had a taste of James Halloran, and he’s all she wants. And that draw between them is strong. I mean forget-that-he-kidnapped-me-and-held-me-hostage strong. They both know there’s no way they can be together. Not only is her father marrying her off, but his family put out a hit on her family in the previous book. There is a lot of bad stuff between their families. And between the two of them. (That whole kidnap and hostage thing).
James, for his part, is trying so hard to turn things around for his family. He’s currently in charge, and there are a lot of his “employees” who aren’t thrilled about this. People generally don’t like change, even when it’s good for them. And James is trying to make a lot of changes. Yes, the family is mob, and he’s not trying to change that, but he’s trying to get them out of some of the worst things they’re into. Human trafficking, for example. But no matter how hard he tries, he’s hitting walls at every turn. His own brother, Ricky, can’t see anything but the bottom line. He goes behind James’ back to make deals that James has expressly forbidden and tries to undermine him at every turn. All James wants is to be with Carrigan, to the point that he’s missing problems in his own house.
I liked this book better than the first one. There was a lot more angst here. Teague and Callie, the couple from the first book, had more of an insta-love situation. (Which worked out well for them since their families were forcing them to marry.) But James and Carrigan had a lot more work to do. There was some insta-lust in the previous book, when they first met and hooked up for a hot encounter in the storage closet of a local bar. But James kidnapping Carrigan and his family putting out a hit on her family and killing her oldest brother put more of a wrench into their happily-ever-after.
The one issue I had with this book, and it was there in the first one, too, was how many characters there are. All three of these families have six or so kids. They’re just all over the place. It’s really difficult to keep straight who’s in charge of what family and who’s related to who. There’s some overlap in the family structures, too. All overbearing patriarchs, all oldest sons who are dicks. All the women are nothing more than pieces to be moved around the chess board to bring their families the greatest advantage.
For the most part, though, this book was great. Steamy, angsty, sexy, hot. James and Carrigan were a complicated, hot mess. I loved reading their story. I loved the few times they were able to get away together and just be alone and be themselves. Those scenes were all the more heartbreaking for how isolated and rare they were. I don’t read a lot of mob books, and while I remember why when I’m reading these (see the paragraph above) Katee Robert is just so good that I don’t care.