Desert Isle Keeper
I’m pretty fussy when it comes to contemporary romance; for some reason, a lot of what’s out there just doesn’t appeal to me. So, I was super thrilled when I stumbled upon Katee Robert’s series featuring the dark and sexy O’Malley family and their struggle to rule the Boston underworld. The first three books were stellar, and, while the fourth was a little less impressive, I was beyond eager to dive into Undercover Attraction, Aiden’s story, and I’m pleased to report Ms. Robert gave me everything I could have wanted and then some.
According to the author’s website, Undercover Attraction can be read as a standalone novel, but I encourage potential readers to start at the beginning of the series with The Marriage Contract. The world Ms. Robert has created is quite complex, and you’ll miss out on a lot if you jump in at any other point. The books in the series build nicely off one another, and I, for one, am glad I chose to read them in order. Having said all that, it should come as no surprise that this review will contain spoilers for books one through four. Read on at your own risk.
Aiden O’Malley has been in control of his family’s interests for well over a year, and, in many ways, the O’Malleys are thriving. Four of the six siblings are happily married, and because of two of those marriages, alliances have been struck between Boston’s three major crime families. But not everything is sunshine and roses. Aiden has recently discovered that his brother, Teague, has been feeding O’Malley secrets to the FBI, and Keira, the youngest of his siblings, seems intent on self-destruction. And then, there’s the problem of Dmitri Romanov, a powerful crime lord from New York who has it in for the O’Malleys. Fortunately, Aiden knows just what to do to bring Dmitri down, and hopefully, solve the rest of his family’s problems in the process. He just needs to gain the cooperation of one Charlotte Finch, the daughter of the FBI agent to whom Teague has been reporting.
Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Finch never imagined she’d be making her living as a poker hustler. Once a cop with a promising future, Charlie was betrayed by her fellow officers after refusing to take bribes from Dmitri Romanov and his associates. They branded her an outcast and eventually forced her to resign from the police force, costing her everything she had worked so hard to achieve. Now, she works in a run-down bar in New York and dreams of the day she can wreak her revenge on Dmitri. So, when Aiden approaches her with a plan to bring Dmitri’s empire to its knees, Charlie agrees, even though posing as Aiden’s fiancé is likely to be dangerous in more ways than one.
From the moment they put their plan into action, both Aiden and Charlie realize things won’t be as easy as they had hoped. Aiden’s siblings are suspicious of his sudden engagement to a woman they’ve never heard of, and it soon becomes apparent Dmitri is playing a complicated and dangerous game of his own. Plus, for all that their engagement is fake, Charlie and Aiden are deeply attracted to one another, an inconvenience neither can really afford. Still, they’re determined to see their plan through to its conclusion, even if it ends up costing more than they bargained for.
When I first started this book, I wasn’t sure I could warm to Aiden’s character. He had been such an ass in previous installments, and I wasn’t sure the author would be able to redeem him sufficiently for me to really root for him. Fortunately, I needn’t have worried, because Ms. Robert gave me everything I needed to make me fall in love with Aiden. I didn’t always agree with his choices, but I understood why he made them, and while his single-minded determination to protect his family’s interests above all else – even at the expense of the well-being of individual members – was sometimes frustrating, I found myself hoping everything would go according to his plans. Ms. Robert does a great job of letting readers see Aiden’s softer side, and this made him someone I wanted to see succeed.
Charlie is the perfect match for Aiden. She’s smart and spunky with a stubborn streak to match his. At first, I worried their strong wills would serve as a point of conflict between them, but the author doesn’t let that happen. Charlie stands up to Aiden when she needs to, and while he doesn’t always take it gracefully, he eventually comes to view Charlie as his equal rather than someone he can trample on, a fact I appreciated. Charlie’s past misfortunes have caused her to be a bit cynical, but not in a way that seems overdone. She’s wary of people until she knows them well, something that enables her to make intelligent decisions rather than just blindly following along behind those who might seek to control her.
The chemistry between Aiden and Charlie is off the charts. While all of the books in the series have been sexy, Undercover Attraction takes things to a whole new level. Both Charlie and Aiden know what they want in the bedroom, and they don’t hesitate to explore their desires – and I loved every moment. Aiden is a bit on the dominant side, but that works well for Charlie, and, when it doesn’t, she lets him know.
There’s so much more I could say about this book, but instead, I’ll just urge you to pick it up as soon as possible. The story is packed with all the action, scandal, sexual tension, and family drama you could ask for, and I, for one, loved it. I can’t wait until February of 2018, when Keira and Dmitri’s story comes out. They’re an unlikely pair, and I’m eager to see how Ms. Robert turns them into a swoon-worthy couple.