The Last King kicks off Katee Robert's new series about a family involved in the oil industry in Houston, Texas. The O’Malley’s series turned me into a big fan of hers, and I wasn’t sure what to expect from her latest release – but I’m happy to report that there is plenty of drama, backstabbing, and sexy good times to go around.
The Last King introduces us to Beckett King, the heir to his father’s oil empire, and Samara Mallick, who is working for his aunt and biggest competitor, Lydia King. Beckett’s father just died in a car wreck and it has left the balance of power in Houston feeling unsteady as Lydia is ready to make a play against her nephew’s company while he’s getting his bearings and mourning his father.
The complications are about more than business, however. Six months previously, Samara and Beckett burned up the sheets during a work trip overseas. Even though they can’t stand each other during work encounters, there’s plenty of sexual chemistry bubbling just below the surface. Seeing Beckett reeling from his father’s death, and brought low by his aunt’s inheriting his family home, is enough to make Samara realize that her initial impression of Beckett as a hot pain in the neck might have been wrong.
Though Robert is known for sexy books, I wasn’t sure where The Last King would fall on the steam-o-meter. If you’re a fan of her previous work, you’ll be happy to know that this new series promises to be just as sexy as all her other books. Samara and Beckett have chemistry in spades. From their first encounter in Norway, they cannot keep their hands off each other. Every bed, office chair, or shower is fair game for some hot sexing.
However, beyond that I was really pleased with how loving their relationship turns out to be. Beckett falls hard and fast for Samara and, unlike so many romance heroes, he doesn’t spend the entire book denying it. I liked how readily he embraces his feelings for her and that he wants them to have a relationship. It felt like he was on her side from the word go, which, with everything else going on, he really needed to be.
That brings me to the only thing that dinged this book for me. I didn’t really go in expecting the storyline to be as heavy as it is on the family drama. Or rather, I expected family drama that didn’t turn into a crime saga. With the O’Malleys series, when someone pulled a gun or tried to murder someone, it fit because they’re mob families. The Kings are running oil corporations, and while there can definitely be backbiting and ruthlessness in their dealings, I would think it might cause some business conflicts if your board or investors or whoever were to find out about an attempted murder or some such nonsense. I’m not a reader of romantic suspense and this was edging in that direction by the end, so what kept this from being an A-grade book was probably my own lack of enjoyment of that genre. Other readers may not be bothered by that at all, but as the danger escalated I had a harder time engaging with that part of the plot. The resolution to those events feels lackluster given how deadly the manipulations at hand were. Obviously, there’s plenty of set up for future books, but I just wasn’t as satisfied as like to be with the non-romance subplot.
I will say, as a Texan, I was worried about how Houston and Beckett would be portrayed. Other than mentioning that it’s humid, Houston is treated as just another big city, which it really is, and I appreciated that. I did like that Samara is from an Indian family, as Houston has a large Southeast Asian population. I should state, though, that I’m not the right reviewer to evaluate the representation of her as a woman of Indian descent in the book and how well – or otherwise – that aspect of her character is handled.
The Last King looks to be another sultry, high stakes series from Robert with plenty of familial machinations to come. I haven’t heard how many books we’re to expect but I am looking forward to the next story, and I think fans of her mafia O’Malleys will not be disappointed. For new fans, this is the perfect time to jump into the series and get to know the Kings of Texas from the start.
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