If Freud was correct, then the human personality is composed of three parts: the id, ego, and superego. If my id walked into a bookstore, it would leave with Bastards Bargain.
This is the last book of Katee Robert’s series, The O’Malleys. Dmitri Romanov is a Russian crime boss in New York. Since book two, he’s been something of a villain for the O’Malleys- the leading crime family from Boston. Now, to broker peace, Dmitiri is marrying the youngest O’Malley sister, Keira. Naturally rebellious, Keria has coped with her troubled family by abusing drugs and alcohol. She resents being a pawn in other people’s games, and goes into her marriage determined to make her husband miserable. Yet, there’s a spark between Keira and Dmitri that neither of them know how to handle. With all their baggage and mistrust, can their attraction grow to something more?
After binging all six books in this mafia-romance series, I think Katee Robert saved the best for last. I was very impressed that she could take the villain from books 2-4 (he was slightly sympathetic in book 5) and make him the hero of his own story. The chemistry on the page was outstanding, and the tension was palpable. What I enjoyed most about this story was Keira’s character arc. In chapter one, she’s living off booze and bitterness. Dmitri is the first person to give her the tough love she needs because he sees the woman she can become. Seeing Keira embrace her potential and power was soooo satisfying.
I have to warn you, this is not a sweet romance. As you might expect in a mafia-themed series, the content is mature. There’s nothing taboo, but the sexual encounters are numerous and steamy… make that boiling. Frankly, it was more graphic than I normally read, so if that’s not your thing, then The Bastard’s Bargain is definitely not for you. If, however, you’re looking for something to make your toes curl, then give it a try. Whatever you do… don’t leave this book around for young readers to stumble upon. You’ll have some explaining to do…
My only critique relates to the villain of the story. As is often the case, the female villain was portrayed as psychologically unstable and motivated by jealousy. This archetype just feels over done. Can’t women be the bad guys because of greed or lust for power? Do they all have to be crazy? No, and I’d like to see a little less of this particular trope.
Even so, this book appealed to my instinctual side, while also giving me a rich and satisfying character arc for the heroine.
Favorite Tropes: Marriage of Convenience, Enemies to Lovers,
Content Warning: Alcoholism, addiction, and recovery is a significant plot point in this story. If you, or someone you love, has struggled with addiction, there may be scenes you find uncomfortable.