The Marriage Contract by Katee Robert
Book One of The O'Malley's series
Publication Date: June 2, 2015
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley
***Warning: this is an adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers***
Summary (from Goodreads):
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Katee Robert begins a smoking hot new series about the O'Malley family-wealthy, powerful, dangerous and seething with scandal.
Teague O'Malley hates pretty much everything associated with his family's name. And when his father orders him to marry Callista Sheridan to create a "business" alliance, Teague's ready to tell his dad exactly where he can stuff his millions. But then Teague actually meets his new fiancée, sees the bruises on her neck and the fight still left in her big blue eyes, and vows he will do everything in his power to protect her.
Everyone knows the O'Malleys have a dangerous reputation. But Callie wasn't aware just what that meant until she saw Teague, the embodiment of lethal grace and coiled power. His slightest touch sizzles through her. But the closer they get, the more trouble they're in. Because Callie's keeping a dark secret-and what Teague doesn't know could get him killed.
What I Liked:
Katee Robert can do no wrong! I absolutely adore her romance novels. Her books with Brazen (imprint of Entangled Publishing) are scorching hot! And so is this book! I was hesitant about this book because it deals with a modern-day arranged marriage, and the subject of arranged marriage makes me twitchy (Indian people still do this, and not just in India!). But I liked the treatment of the subject matter in this book, even if it was a bit strange!
Callie Sheridan, daughter and heir of the Sheridan mafia/mobster family business, is part of an arranged marriage with Brendan Halloran, heir of the Halloran mafia/mobster family business. But then Brendan disappears, and the O'Malley family swoops in. Teague, one of four sons (and one of seven children total), is pushed into marrying Callie. Neither Callie nor Teague wants to do this, but their controlling and demanding fathers will take advantage of the situation and create new alliances. But the Halloran family wants revenge - for Brendan, and for the lost alliance. Teague is caught in a crossfire he isn't completely aware of, and it could cost him his life.
TEAGUE. I love Teague. He is noble and honorable, and wants to do whatever will best protect his family - his sisters, especially. He doesn't want his sisters to have to go through what Callie and him have to go through - not have a choice. Teague isn't abusive or power-hungry, isn't looking for revenge or how to top the Hallorans or Sheridans. I like Teague a lot! He is a swoony hero, a good guy, and a wonderful family man. It's so obvious that he cares about his sisters and brothers more than anything - and then he adds Callie to that list!
Callie is terrified of something awful that she did, and doesn't tell anyone, not even her father. When Callie is told that she is now marrying Teague O'Malley, Callie feels resignation. What if he's like Brendan, whom she was supposed to marry? Abusive, sick, running illegal operations? Teague is none of those things, as Callie finds out. He is sweet and sexy, and she falls for him like he falls for her. Soon they can't not see each other, and they find that they like each other and the idea of the marriage isn't so terrible.
The romance is quite steamy! Teague and Callie sizzle and simmer together, right from the start. I love watching them get comfortable with each other and begin to like each other. Even though Teague knows Callie is hiding something, he knows that she doesn't trust him yet, and he knows that she'll tell him when she's ready. Which she does.
Teague and Callie aren't the only ones whose perspectives are featured. I believe this book is written completely in third person, and while Callie and Teague are both featured individually, there is also Carrigan (Teague's sister), and James Halloran (Brendan's younger brother and friend of Teague), and there might have been others, I can't remember. Carrigan is an interesting one - she was almost just as trapped as Callie. She's getting "old" (almost thirty, I think), so her father is desperate to have her used to gain power sooner rather than later (power-hungry jerk). James is another interesting character, who is caught in the crossfire. I like him. I hope he is featured in future novels.
There is the whole mafia/mobster family/crime thing going on! This book is by no means just a romance novel! The arranged marriage is just the tip of the mafia iceberg. We've got three mafia families who are competing for power. Marriages make alliances, and the O'Malleys and Sheridans are about to make a strong one. The story surrounding the mafia is really intriguing! I was never bored with any of it.
This book is a winner, in my opinion! All of Robert's books are, and this one is another awesome addition to Robert's name. I hope there are more books to come!
What I Did Not Like:
At first, I didn't really like Callie. It has to do with the beginning of the book, and I don't want to spoil anything, so I won't say anything specific. I really wanted to shake her! How could she walk away?! Ugh, I can't be specific, but ugh. Just know that my initial dislike of her was brief! But it was there.
Would I Recommend It:
YES! I liked this book a lot. It's contemporary romance with a crime/mafia spin. The romance is hot hot hot, the male protagonist is swoon-worthy, and the character development and relationship progression are really well-written and sweet! Robert writes such great romance novels, and this book is no exception.
4 stars. This is probably going to be a year-end adult contemporary romance favorite! I'd like to say I'm impressed with Robert, but I expect nothing less! I can't wait to read the next book in this series - hopefully there is a next book and it is not too far away!
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