Desert Isle Keeper
I recently fell into an unusually long reading slump where I could not make myself read anything. I was starting to feel not like myself after months passed without sitting down to truly read a book. I managed to limp through one I enjoyed, but it took weeks. Finally, just when I was starting to think something was wrong with me, Forbidden Promises came along to remind me I could devour a book in great big gulps like I used to do. The mix of sexy, brooding, and suspense came together in the perfect cocktail to draw me in and keep me up late reading. I was even sneaking away at work to try and get in a few pages here and there. Thank you, Katee Robert, you fixed my reading slump!
Even if you’ve read the entire O’Malley’s Series, all these children of crime families might start blending together, especially as more are introduced here. So I will do my best to catch you up. In Forbidden Promises, Sloan O’Malley has just fled her family in Boston to try and make a fresh start on the West Coast. Her older brother, Teague, has helped her escape, unbeknownst to oldest brother (I think – it gets confusing) Aiden who is acting as the family patriarch at this point. Just when Sloan thinks to make a new life as a waitress in a seaside town, she runs into her sexy new neighbor, Jude Smith. What she doesn’t know is that Jude’s interest in her goes far beyond any passing interest in a cute girl next door, and has much more to do with the fact that she is staying in the home belonging to the aunt of her sister-in-law, Callista Sheridan, who is part of yet another crime family.
Sloan realizes she may never truly escape her past when she discovers that Jude is actually Jude McNamara, whose family was all but slaughtered years earlier by their enemies, the Sheridans. Jude has been working with Russian mobster Dmitri Romanov to kill Sloan’s sister-in-law (Callista) and Sloan realises escape isn’t possible when her secrecy is shattered and she discovers the worst of Boston’s underground, including her own family, is on her trail. Bonded by heaps of sexual attraction and a tentative relationship, Jude and Sloan find themselves protecting one another against all the forces of their shadowy pasts.
I’ll be honest with you. After four books and a long list of names and family associations, I cannot keep these characters straight. But fortunately, it doesn’t detract at all from how much I loved this book. Sloan is the mousy, reserved member of her family and it was a refreshing change to read a heroine who is not the confident, professional woman who so often appears in contemporary romances these days. Jude is standoffish and confusing to her at first, and she has to really battle with her own self-esteem, both where he is concerned and in all aspects of starting her new life. Sloan had a very sheltered, atypical upbringing, and her situation is dangerous, so being cautious and somewhat withdrawn makes sense in the context of her character.
As for Jude… oh, my! First of all, Robert dedicates the book to fitness model Brock O’Hurn, who was her inspiration for Jude. If you don’t know who he is, go and google him. I can wait.
He is gorgeous! So I was picturing Brock the whole time in place of Jude, which didn’t hurt my enjoyment of him at all. Secondly, Jude is kind of a jerk at the beginning, so I was ready to watch him fall hard. I liked that Sloan and Jude’s tumble happens with a fair amount of angst on his part, because I felt like he needed that to humble him. He is such a dunderhead about his feelings toward her for so much of the book that I wanted him to suffer a bit, you know? But in a good way. It was his point-of-view that I found so addictive, for some reason. I wanted to keep reading to see what and how his transformation would be effected.
Now, there are a few places where Forbidden Promises lost points that kept it from being perfect. All of these felt minor in the long run, though. I said Sloan is mousy. With a character like that, you want to see some growth in confidence, but I felt her change was too abrupt. As soon as she starts sleeping with Jude her self-assurance shoots through the roof and the old Sloan disappears. It seemed like a case of ‘magic penis’ syndrome, where she was fixed by Jude’s tremendous sex skills. I would have liked to have seen more of a transition from the old to the new Sloan. In addition, there’s a trope introduced partway through that I didn’t love. Seasoned romance readers can probably guess what it is, and I did like that it was handled in a very modern way I haven’t seen in a romance before, but in this case the whole scenario feels odd. Lastly, the dialogue can tip into the melodramatic at times, but I’ve tried to forgive that given the whole mob family setting.
The place where Forbidden Promises won me back after those slip ups, surprised me; it was in the setup for a future book. I was not expecting longtime villain Dmitri Romanov to suddenly be getting hot and bothered thanks to littlest O’Malley sister, Keira. Yes! Give me more of that. If the evil dude can’t handle the crazy little sister, I want to read that book today.
I finished Forbidden Promises in record time, especially considering my own dry spell for reading. I thought Sloan and Jude might both be crazy but I loved them and I wanted to just mash their angsty faces together. I’m sure I will enjoy the next book about Aiden but I have a serious craving for one about Keira and Dmitri. I highly recommend this entire series to anyone who likes contemporary romance and is over the small town romances, yet doesn’t want to jump fully into romantic suspense.