Our reviewer Haley enjoyed the first book in Katee Robert’s O’Malleys series, The Marriage Contract (her review is here). The second one, The Wedding Pact, comes out next week. Ms. Robert’s kind publicist gave us this sneak peak excerpt.
Here’s the blurb from Amazon:
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 are you wearing?”
A pause, as if she’d shocked him. “You’re hitting on me.”
“Are you complaining?” She twisted around in her chair and stared into the mirror on the wall across from her. When he didn’t immediately respond, she kept going. The only alternative was to back down, and Carrigan was so goddamn tired of backing down. The only reason she kept taking James’s calls was because of the distraction he offered her. If he wasn’t going to play, there was no reason for her to stay on the phone.
She really wanted him to stay on the phone. “Shy? That’s okay, I’ll go first. I’m wearing a thin white tank top and a pair of black panties.” She was a liar, but it would take all of five seconds to make it the truth.
“Lovely, you’re testing me.” His voice gained an edge.
Good. At least someone was feeling as out of control as she was. “I suppose you’d like photographic proof.” She stood and shimmied out of her long skirt, and then pinned the phone between her ear and shoulder while she unhooked her bra and took it off. “Hold, please.”
Ignoring his cursing, she adjusted her angle so he would have to be blind to miss the faint outline of her nipples against the fabric of her tank top, and snapped a picture. She knew she was playing with fire. Good lord, of course she knew. But she wasn’t about to stop. She grinned as she sent the picture.
Carrigan put the phone back to her ear in time to hear his sharp inhale. “Your turn.” She held her breath, waiting to see if he’d actually do it. Receiving pictures was one thing. Putting them out in the world was entirely another. Really, she shouldn’t have taken the risk in the first place. There was no telling what he would do with them—they might show up on the Internet. Then who would want to marry her?
Funny, but the idea of countless men checking out her rack didn’t bother her nearly as much if it meant she dodged the marriage bullet. The shame on her family might be enough that her father would send her away permanently. She’d like to spend some time in New York or LA or even New Orleans. Maybe Rome or Paris or Tokyo. The world was so damn big and she’d only seen a little slice of it.
Her phone beeped, pulling her out of her thoughts. She glanced at the picture he’d sent and started to shake. Oh my God. James was shirtless, wearing only those goddamn jeans she couldn’t seem to get enough of. And they were unbuttoned—a clear invitation if she ever saw one. An invitation she desperately wanted to accept. “Damn, James. Somebody taught you how to selfie.”
“Maybe I’m a natural.” His voice was little more than a growl. “You started this, lovely. Tell me what’s next.”
The strange mix of command and handing her the reins got her head back in the game. She walked over to her bed and climbed onto it, trying to ignore the trembling in her legs. She could be in charge. She wantedto be. “I’m lying on my bed.”
“What color are the sheets?”
The question seemed to carry far more import than it should. “White.”
“They don’t suit you. Red is your color. Go on.” He sounded so damn imperial, as if he actually knew her. He didn’t. No one did, really. She wore so many masks, sometimes she worried she’d forget the woman at the center of them all.
But this time he was right. She would have chosen red for herself.
Carrigan put the thought away and focused on the now. “You talk too much.”
“My mistake.” He didn’t sound the least bit sorry. Good. She wasn’t, either. “How do you want it, lovely? Rough, I’d bet. You’re not fucking breakable, and I think you love to be reminded of that fact.” Something rustled on his end of the line. “Close your eyes.”
She obeyed without thinking, and then instantly snapped them open. “I thought I was in charge.”
“You let me know if I get something wrong.” His laugh told her how unlikely he found the possibility.