Undercover Attraction (The O'Malley's #5)- Katee Robert
My Review - 3 Stars
I loved the first three books in the O'Malley's series. The last book was a misstep for me but I was eager to see what Katee Robert would do with Aiden's story. We've been given an idea of who Aiden is as the head of the family and I wanted to know whether we really knew who he was.
Now that I've read it, I'm still not sure who Aiden is. He didn't match the seemingly cold, ruthless man we'd been given in the previous four books. He deeply cared about his family and made hard decisions to protect them but I wasn't clear on whether his cold reputation was fairly earned or an act.
Charlie, on the other hand, was an interesting character through and through. She was wounded by her past and determined to get her revenge against Dmitri Romanov for setting her up. She doesn't resist Aiden for long but once she gives into their relationship, she sees another side of him and it was heartwarming to see Aiden have someone believe the best of him. It was a bit of a logic leap to believe in their insta-love but that's more because I'm not much of an insta-love fan, especially in the face of danger. Even so, while Aiden and Charlie didn't make sense on paper and have a lot to figure out, I really liked them together.
There are two ways to read this series. As a contemporary romance, you'll find an idealized, romanticized view of mafia family and relationships. You'll find gloss and token references to the seedy underbelly. As a mafia romance, you'll be disappointed by the lack of grit and reality.
Because Aiden has been built up in the first four books as this cold, methodical mobster, I went into this hoping for a mafia romance. But I got a contemporary romance—which is what the series really is and I'm not sure why I hoped otherwise.
The first three books, from my recollection, did not shy away from the bad things the heroes or heroines did in the name of the mafia. James, in particular, did some pretty awful things in The Wedding Pact and that's what made the redemptive arc so powerful. So I was ready to learn more about the tough calls Aiden had made and see how he would be redeemed.
However, we get a very idealized, restrained Aiden. He's working behind the scenes to orchestrate the downfall of his enemies. I was tracking with this but that's all it ever was. There was a lot of talk about holding on to power and Aiden being ruthless and a monster but we never get to see why Aiden has that reputation. Look, as the head of a mob family, surely your hands get more than dirty.
The mafia depiction wasn't the most realistic this time around. There were a number of moments when Aiden and Charlie are more distracted by how they are for each other than getting killed, which was not realistic for the situations they were in. Chemistry is chemistry but staying alive and aware of your surroundings is a wee bit more important. And since Aiden is the head of a mafia family and Charlie used to be a cop, I couldn't believe they wouldn't be more aware of the big picture.
Despite this, Undercover Attraction is a solid addition to the series. It moved things forward in the overarching plot of the series. We get to see how Aiden wants to be a better brother, instead of always having to put the family's needs first and worrying about power grabs. We get to watch him fall for Charlie against his better judgment.
I liked this overall. It does make me nervous about whether we'll get a mafia version of Dmitri in the final book (PLEASE) or a contemporary romance version. Either way, I'm looking forward to watching Dmitri and Keira fall for one another.
Scandal. Wealth. Power. Seduction. Welcome to the world of the O'Malleys.
Ex-cop Charlotte Finch used to think there was a clear line between right and wrong. Then her fellow officers betrayed her, and the world is no longer so black and white. Especially when it's Aiden O'Malley, one of the most dangerous men in Boston, who offers her a chance for justice. The only catch: she'll have to pretend to be his fiancée for his plan to work.
Aiden can't afford to let anyone see the man behind the mask. To run the O'Malley empire, he has to be cool and controlled at all times. But the moment he meets Charlie, they're playing with fire. Her slightest touch is enough to send him over the edge. At first their "engagement" was a way to eliminate his enemies. Now he'll do whatever it takes to keep her safe-- even if he has to destroy his own family to do it.
THE MARRIAGE CONTRACT
THE WEDDING PACT
AN INDECENT PROPOSAL
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Disclosure: I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Affiliate links included in this post.