Desert Isle Keeper
The Wedding Pact
I’ve never been big on Mafia/gang books. I don’t mind the Mob making an appearance in my romantic suspense from time to time, but in general I stay far away from books involving such groups. I think it might actually go back to my love of West Side Story; I grew up hearing the soundtrack and dreading that tragic gunshot at the end. Gangs, Mafia families—in either case, the thought of someone being trapped into a life of crime depresses me. Which is why I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed The Wedding Pact.
After that introduction, it will likely be no surprise to hear that this book is about Carrigan O’Malley, daughter of one of the ruling families of Boston, and James Halloran, head of the rival family that rules Southie. Carrigan isn’t overly enamored of James at the beginning — the last time she saw him they hooked up and then his family kidnapped her. Although James did sort of help Carrigan and her sister-in-law escape, she’s still understandably upset about it.
For his part, James hasn’t been able to forget about Carrigan since that day. Not only was he extremely attracted to her before he realized she was an O’Malley (hence the kidnapping thereafter), but he also feels extremely guilty for what his family has done to hers. Although Carrigan got away from them without more than a few bumps and bruises, his brother recently killed her youngest brother, which has left her entire family reeling. Ever since she returned to Boston, he’s been spent time each night at the club where they met, hoping just to talk to her.
Now you’re up to speed with the beginning of the book. All of this — the kidnapping, the brother’s murder, etc.—happened during The Marriage Contract the first book in the series. I haven’t read it, but I managed just fine with this one regardless.
As The Wedding Pact opens, James has finally seen Carrigan walk into the club, and so goes over to talk to her. Although their conversation doesn’t exactly go well, he manages to reestablish contact with her. After that they begin texting and calling each other, and somehow find themselves in the middle of a relationship. Carrigan is a bit torn up about her brother’s death in the beginning, but it’s clear soon enough that James is sorry it happened and didn’t have any part of it. She also really relies on James for moments of relaxation and sanity as her father begins pushing her to choose a husband from his list of suitors. James, for his part, needs Carrigan to be a ray of sunshine in his otherwise extremely dark world as he struggles to maintain power in Halloran territory.
You know how, when you’re reading a book on a kindle, you somehow manage to keep an eye on how far you are into it? I like to have the little percent sign warning me when I’m getting close to the end. And although it was definitely there when I read The Wedding Pact, I somehow managed to be so absorbed in the story that I never noted it in my peripheral vision. So when the book was abruptly over, I was rather disoriented. I would say this is a good indicator of how much I enjoyed it.
Both James and Carrigan really jump off the page as characters. Carrigan is independent and self-confident, in direct opposition to everything her father tried to raise her to be. Although she is a somewhat obedient daughter — she’s bowing to his insistence on her marriage — she has always fought to pursue her interests, to the point of sneaking out at night to go to clubs like any other woman in her twenties. She’s incredibly smart and clearly wasted on a father who only sees her for her breeding potential.
James is Carrigan’s opposite. Where she’s fighting to get out from under her father’s thumb, he’s fighting to keep people under his. His father and older brother were truly despicable people, and now that James has control of the territory he’s trying to change things…which he can’t do if he can’t stay in control. By day he’s fighting a war for his own people, against his own people (especially against his younger brother). By night he craves the little bit of peace he finds with Carrigan. Truly, put together these two are magic.
I loved every second of The Marriage Pact, even though it was a Mafia book. In fact, I think I’m going to have to go back and read The Marriage Contract now, in order to be ready to jump on the next O’Malley book to come out.