The Marriage Contract
So…who do I have to hold hostage to get the second book in this series early? I cannot wait until April of next year for it. Katee Robert has introduced a new family to the romance world and, boy, are they trouble. And I want more of them.
In The Marriage Contract, Teague O’Malley and Callista Sheridan are being forced by their fathers to marry. Now, this isn’t your normal marriage of convenience story. You see, they need to get married to unite their family mafias. Both the O’Malleys and Sheridans are notorious in Boston for their involvement in organized crime. Originally, Callie was set to marry the son of a third crime family, the Hallorans. However, their engagement came to a pretty insurmountable obstacle when Callie shot Brendan Halloran. Her father is quick to change the alliance to the O’Malley family, leaving the Hallorans angry and ready to snap.
Teague and Callie may not have chosen their engagement, but they can’t deny the attraction between them from their first encounter. They quickly realize that they have much in common, namely, being the pawn in their father’s criminal empires. Although they both would like to escape this world, it seems impossible. They find solace in being together and distracting one another from the veritable war brewing between the three families.
I have been desperately seeking something new and different in a romance novel. I can’t read anymore warm and fuzzy small town romances, or prim and proper Regencies. The Marriage Contract hit the spot with its grittier feel, and anti-heroes. None of the characters are particularly good people. I mean, the book opens with Callie killing her intended, albeit in self-defense, and it is clear that both Teague and Callie are deeply entrenched in their families’ criminal natures. That said, I was able to connect with them because Robert does such a good job showing the incredible strain they feel, and how inescapable their lifestyle is. I spent the whole book rooting for them to somehow get away, make better lives, whatever they needed to do to be safe. However, it doesn’t seem to be possible for them.
The only thing I really would have changed about the story is that I wish they had each been more chaffed by the engagement. I like marriage of convenience stories to have the wedding pretty early, so that we see the couple struggle a bit with adjusting to one another as they fall in love. That isn’t the case for Teague and Callie. They fall for one another very quickly and seem unfazed by how controlling their fathers have been in arranging this pairing. It took away some of the potential conflict that I normally would have enjoyed. I wanted more internal conflict from the characters, although I did enjoy the external conflict from the murder of Brendan Halloran and the fighting between the two families.
Unfortunately as well, the criminal aspects of the book felt a bit one-dimensional. Besides shooting at one another, and some kidnapping, we never really heard what any of the families do. I’m not sure how they came to be such well known mafias or what type of illicit things they are involved with, so I would have liked to know that. There’s a chance the author was worried that going too much into the criminal aspects, such as showing Teague or Callie obviously involved in drugs, guns, bookkeeping, or whatever would have made them unlikeable to the reader. I just know I personally wanted a little more depth to that area.
But the real reason I am so anxious for the next book is that the secondary characters in this stole the show. Teague’s younger sister Carrigan has a sexy run-in with one of the Halloran brothers before they each realize who the other is. Once their identities are revealed, it sets off a whole chain of drama with the families. I was not expecting two minor characters to light up the page like they did, but I loved it. Combined with the first chapter preview of the second book, The Wedding Pact, at the end of the book, Carrigan O’Malley and James Halloran had me more than ready to read their book.
I want it! Give it to me now! No offense to Teague and Callie, because they were both interesting and I really did enjoy their story, but I think book two is bound to be even better. Now I just have to wait nine months to get it.