Desert Isle Keeper
The Bastard's Bargain
I have been waiting for this book for ages, since before I even knew that Keira and Dmitri would feature in their own story. I am so happy to say that I wasn’t disappointed and there is still as much chemistry between the ‘gentleman murderer’ and the mob daughter as there was during their run-ins in the earlier books in the O’Malley’s series.
Throughout all the other novels, youngest sister Keira has been spiraling out of control. She is still mourning the death of her brother Devlin and self-medicating via drugs and alcohol. She seems to want to waste away, and has given up everything she previously enjoyed. She no longer paints or cares about improving her art. All Keira wants is to self-destruct, so marriage to New York’s infamous Russian mobster Dmitri Romanov is no problem.
When Dmitri was first introduced, he was the big, bad guy that Carrigan O’Malley might have to marry in The Wedding Pact, and he was shown as someone neither the O’Malley’s nor the Halloran’s wanted to trifle with. But he turned into one of my favorite characters of the series, all because of his interactions with Keira. Since Dmitri lost out on wedding one O’Malley sister he asks for the hand of the other instead. What big brother Aiden doesn’t know is that Keira and Dmitri have already had several heated exchanges before she decides to go away with him at the start of The Bastard’s Bargain.
Dmitri is ready to marry Keira and he’s done waiting on her family’s approval. He shows up in Boston and sweeps her away, right to a chapel. Keira feels she’s simply exchanging imprisonment in her family’s home for being locked up in Dmitri’s New York mansion. She has no sappy thoughts that her marriage might be one of romance or love. It’s a business transaction. However, Dmitri has plans of his own – which may not involve love, but he wants her at his side as his equal, a position Keira has never had before.
Dmitri came off as such a snake in earlier books that I wasn’t prepared to adore him as much as I did. He may be a mob boss with plenty of skeletons in his closet, but it’s hard to deny the way Keira brings him to his knees, and how much he values her. He wants her to get sober. He wants her to eat, exercise, take up painting again, whatever it takes for her to be stronger. He wants her to be his queen. When Keira goes home with him she’s such a mess that her head isn’t really free to fall for Dmitri and she needs to find inner strength again before her side of the romance can really progress. However, we do get so many delicious scenes of Dmitri falling for her in his own evil-guy-with-a-soft-heart way.
The sex is off the charts hot, which is nothing new if you are a fan of Robert’s other books. I do think that The Bastard’s Bargain is more erotic than the earlier books, as Keira and Dmitri both want to be daring and push the envelope. Beyond the sex and the chemistry, I adored the way we are finally able to see into Dmitri’s mind and realize how long he’s been waiting for Keira. He cares what happens to her, maybe even more than her own family, and although he doesn’t admit it much to himself, he wants her to love him. You get a palpable sense of how tentative he is when approaching love. He may be a badass on the streets, but with Keira his feelings are tender and uncertain. He knows what he ultimately wants for her, but he’s not prepared for how much it will affect his own heart to have her in his home and his bed.
I also liked seeing Keira grow up and come into her own. She’s been flailing for a while and really needed room to breathe and not be a child under her brother’s watching eye any more. Her character is rich with vulnerability and pain, and seeing her overcome her demons made me want to cheer.
Their path to true love isn’t easy. The O’Malley family does not approve and there is still the threat from the Eldridge family, but Keira and Dmitri learn how to face those things as a team rather than splintered factions. The only thing that disappointed me was that there wasn’t more of a sense of unity between all of the mob families by the end, seeing as how they’ve all married and intermingled.
If you haven’t read the rest of the series, I wouldn’t suggest starting with The Bastard’s Bargain. While it is technically a standalone, you’d be depriving yourself of the slow build-up of Keira and Dmitri’s story. Do yourself a favor and read them all from the start, and then you can fully enjoy and appreciate this great end to a great series.