Words can't even describe how much I love this series and this book is THE one to beat! It even made my "Best Reads of 2016" list!!!!
Format: .paperback (A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for the purpose of an honest review. )
Release Date: April 26, 2016
Carrigan O'Malley has always known her arranged marriage would be more about power and prestige than passion. But after one taste of the hard-bodied, whiskey-voiced James Halloran, she's ruined for anyone else. Too bad James and his family are enemy number 1.
Hallorans vs. O'Malleys-that's how it's always been. James should be thinking more about how to expand his family's empire instead of how silky Carrigan's skin is against his and how he can next get her into his bed. Those are dangerous thoughts. But not nearly as dangerous as he'll be if he can't get what he wants: Carrigan by his side for the rest of their lives.
Arranged marriages and violence have always been a part of Carrigan O’Malley’s life and she’s resigned to a loveless, passionless marriage until one night she hooks up with James Halloran. He completely ruins her for anyone else and suddenly Carrigan has more problems than the long standing Halloran/O’Malley feud. James wants Carrigan and he’ll fight anyone who gets between them.
James doesn’t enjoy his lifestyle, he doesn’t really want to be in charge of his family, he doesn’t want to participate in the family “businesses” either but in his world, weakness of any kind could get you killed so he tries his best to rule with an iron fist. I liked the softness in him because in heavily contrasted with the deadly power struggle that he lived daily. There was suspense in that though, James had to take care not to let the wrong people find out about his kind heart and as he got closer and closer to Carrigan emotionally it became harder and harder not to let his emotions show. The icing on that powder keg was that Carrigan was technically the enemy. It put him in an even more difficult position but it also gave him the chance to show how ruthless and determined he could be and really what isn’t appealing about a man who is willing to fight for what he wants? Make no mistake though, James would and could happily shoot someone point blank without flinching if he had to.
Carrigan was so jaded with life she was virtually an empty shell of a woman. Bitter and hateful at times, it would have been so easy to hate her. Until you looked closer at her life and what awaited her in the future. A marriage that would be little more than a business arrangement to satisfy her family’s interests. She really had me feeling sorry her in the beginning but then I realized that Carrigan didn’t need or want pity. She still had a few tricks up her sleeve so to speak and she wasn’t going to go down without a fight. Her fighter’s spirit had me loving her more and more as the book went on.
Separately James and Carrigan were pretty awesome but the real question is, how were they as a couple? “Hot” doesn’t even BEGIN to describe these two. Their short, but seriously sexy scene back in The Marriage Contract teased at an intense, dangerous, and explosive attraction that totally carried on to The Wedding Pact. I’m talking about red hot, swinging-from-the-chandelier-cause-it’s-so-good type lust between James and Carrigan. What’s that line in the Mark Ronson/Bruno Mars song? “Make a dragon wanna retire man, it’s too hot, hot damn!” Yeah that pretty much sums it up.
The heat between them was expected. What wasn’t expected was the fragile but determined spark of softness and purity between them. These two characters grew up surrounded by monsters and violence yet no matter how jaded they seemed, there was that teeny tiny sliver of hope that there was something more to the lives they lived and I think they felt it in each other the first time they met. They just didn’t know it. Katee Robert took that little bit of positive, nurtured it and made it grow throughout the book into this really deep connection that defied everything that James and Carrigan’s families stood for. James and Carrigan have done questionable things all their lives yet I couldn’t help but cheer for them to get their happy ending because they are two flawed, VERY flawed characters who happened to have a handful of endearing qualities.
There were plenty of supporting characters and those that um, didn’t bite the bullet, knife or bomb lived to possibly see another day in this series but I really don’t want to say specific characters’ names because I don’t want to jinx them and find out they get killed in a future book. Carrigan has brothers and a younger sister whom she loves deeply. I would love for the rest of the O’Malley’s who have already suffered a devastating loss; find some semblance of happiness in the ruthless world they’re living in. I especially want to see how Keira grows up since at the beginning of the series she had just turned eighteen.
Normally I prefer light hearted romances with clear good vs evil roles but Robert has a talent for taking two characters who aren’t bad but they aren’t good either and making them likable in such a way that you’re aware they aren’t really heroes but you still want them to win the day. The pacing was great, fast when it needed to be and slower when a point needed to be made. It was so easy to get lost in this mafia type fantasy romance even with the danger and violence. There’s something so addictive, actually something downright seductive about this series that I just can’t put it down once I’ve started reading.
Final Verdict: James and Carrigan are going to be a hard couple to beat. They were scorching together but they also brought some really raw emotions to the table and that combination just did me in. The Wedding Pact was like chocolate mousse wrapped up in dark chocolate with a bit of chocolate drizzle on top: Tasty all over and good to the last drop.
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