The Wedding Pact by Katee Robert
Book Two of The O'Malleys series
Publication Date: April 26, 2016
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley
***Warning: this is an adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers***
Summary (from Goodreads):
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.
What I Liked:
Last year, The Marriage Contract blew me away. It was easily one of my favorite adult romance novels of 2015, and by one of my favorite romance authors too. Katee Robert's Brazen-published novels are amazing and steamy and fun to read, but this Forever-published series... this series has to be her best work yet. I am in awe of this author's storytelling!
Carrigan O'Malley's biological clock is ticking, according to her controlling father. The oldest daughter and second oldest O'Malley child, Carrigan has always known that she would be destined for an arranged marriage that would benefit the O'Malley empire. And when her father hands her a list of eligible suitors and tell her that she has a month to choose, Carrigan knows her time is up. But she can't seem to forget - or avoid - James Halloran, the man left her with rated R memories, kidnapped her, and then helped her escape. James can't get Carrigan out of his mind, and he's not sure he wants to. The O'Malleys hate the Hallorans, but James can't stay away from Carrigan. But with Carrigan's time running short, James will have to decide is pursuing her is worth it.
Oh James. Oh Carrigan. Usually in romance, I'll like one of the protagonists more than the other - and it's usually the male (hehe). But in this book, I loved both of these protagonists. I felt bad for both of them - they had to make incredibly difficult decisions (some of which had nothing to do with each other), and there was no way I could read this book and not want to give them both a hug.
Carrigan is still grieving over her youngest brother's death (he was killed by a Halloran, but not James). It's been four months and the O'Malley family is splintering, though Teague and Callie's wedding is something Carrigan is looking forward to. Carrigan hates that her father has so much control over her life, and she sneaks out and about a lot. I liked Carrigan in The Marriage Contract but I adored her even more, in this book. She is every bit as strong and decisive and bold close up as she was far away, in book one.
James... I liked him in The Marriage Contract, but that quadrupled in this book. With his father in prison, James is now the head of the Halloran family. Except that he has his wild brother Ricky to deal with, and the entire Halloran empire that is slow to accept his leadership, and the fact that he wants to keep seeing Carrigan O'Malley when all of the O'Malleys are out for Halloran blood. James has to make heartbreaking decisions, and he has to be more than human, to protect those he cares about, including Carrigan. It's so sad to see him running the Halloran empire and trying to make things right, but everyone is misjudging him because of his father's and brothers' deeds
There was no doubt in my mind that these two would be perfect for each other, after reading The Marriage Contract, and it's quite clear that this is the case, after reading this book. James is an alpha male to the core, but he is also sweet and thoughtful and fiercely protective. Carrigan is bold and strong, and selfless too. She is willing to go through with the arranged marriage plans only to keep her family together and to throw her father off her younger sisters - they'll end up just like her, but she'd rather they have time to grieve, and for their arranged marriages to be as far into the future as possible. Carrigan takes no crap from anyone, including James. It's fun to see them butt heads and disagree, and then collide.
These two are electric and fiery together, like the hottest part of a blue flame. They can't stop thinking about each other, or staying away from each other, no matter how forbidden Carrigan is to James, or how much of the enemy James is. They have a hate-to-love relationship, although it's more of a immense-lust-to-hate-to-love relationship. Their arguing and banter and then heated passion is incredible! I love Katee Robert's romance novels, and this one does not disappoint, in terms of the steamy scenes.
I love that the author includes other characters' third-person POV, and not just James and Carrigan's. Don't get me wrong, the vast majority of scenes are in our lead pair's perspective. But we get short scenes in Cillian's POV (he's the hero of the third book, to come), and Sloan's too. We get to see how the other O'Malley siblings are grieving, and Cillian's perspective is so heartbreaking. He is sorely misjudged by his family. I cannot wait to read his book next!
I love the world-building of this series. Mafia families, crime upon crime, scheme upon scheme, betrayal upon betrayal - this book is so much more than a romance novel. There is an unresolved plot that connects all of the books together, and I am excited to see how things will shake down in book three!
I could probably go on and on about this book, but I'll stop here! Believe it or not, I didn't love this one as much as I loved The Marriage Contract, but it would be incredibly difficult for a book in this series to top The Marriage Contract. I loved that book so much. This one did not disappoint though! I loved James and Carrigan, and cannot wait for Olivia and Cillian's book!
What I Did Not Like:
Hmmm, I don't think I am coming up with anything at the moment. As I always say, no book is perfect, but this one had few flaws. And I can't think of any at the moment!
Would I Recommend It:
I highly recommend this novel! If you loved The Marriage Contract, you'll love this one too! And if you haven't read The Marriage Contract, I highly recommend you pick it up. This series seems to be a companion series (in a sense), but it'll make things easier to understand if all of the books are read, and in order. But the author does a good job of building each story so that you don't have to! But trust me, you want to read all of these books.
4.5 stars -> rounded down to 4 stars (not quite there). Ahhh, James and Carrigan! I'm very satisfied with their story. Bring on heartbreaker Cillian and off-limits Olivia!
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