Mills & Boon, £4.99, ISBN 978-0-263-92599-9
Historical Romance, 2017
Carolina Hatford wants to be a physician, and before she embarked on her trip with her matchmaking-crazed Aunt Prudie, she thought her parents had agreed to send her to medical school so all was well. Well, not quite. Her mother soon wrote to her saying that Carolina needs to get married first, and then Carolina’s parents will pay for her schooling… provided that her hubby agrees to letting her go. Our heroine is devastated because all she wants to do is to wield a scalpel and cut open people in the name of medicine.
Well, that changes when she is on the train and, due to being at the wrong place and the wrong time, is held captive by some guy who is squaring off against one “Reyes”. She survives… obviously, and without a scratch too. She also gets a whiff of Reyes, and apparently it’s all manly and nice instead of reeking of sweat, alcohol, and worse, so she’s like, oh my god, that is so… dreamy.
Reyes is actually Castillo Jameson. Wait, can I go back to calling him Reyes? Oh, alright, Castillo. In a continuation from The Innocent and the Outlaw, he took on the Reyes persona to hunt down the man who killed his grandfather. That villain is still at large, but after the whole hostage situation, our hero takes a detour to visit his half-brother Hunter, who found love in that other book. Oh my, it turns out that Hunter is related to Carolina! Don’t worry, it’s not too close to ensure that the kids of Carolina and Castillo will end up having tails or something – it’s more like an excuse to throw those two together while Aunt Prudie is like, “At last, at last, a joyous day indeed as Carolina will finally take a penis inside her and I am FREE from chaperoning that wretch to go back to being an alcoholic skank!” Okay, maybe not the alcoholic skank part.
Carolina is initially terrified of Castillo. But – and I’m not kidding – our hero corners her and tells her, “Please, mi corazón.”
And I kid you not, this is Carolina’s immediate reaction.
The endearment got to her. For that brief moment, he wasn’t an intruder in her bedroom, he was the handsome stranger she’d met on the train. His voice moved like warm honey through her veins, and his warm body was firm against her back. His strength was reassuring, as it had been two days ago. He was so broad, so strong, that her quickened for an entirely different reason as her body began to awaken.
Oh, for god’s sake. I know we all want to get mi corazón‘ed now and then, but girlfriend here is so thirsty that it is a miracle that she didn’t become pregnant the moment she walked out of her parent’s house.
The pattern persists throughout the book. Initially, I hope that Carolina will do some growing up as the story progresses, but no. As Castillo does his manly cowboy thing, looking for vengeance and all, our heroine remains in hungry-for-the-dee mode. She insists that Castillo is “not flawed” when he points out that his skin is darker than hers, which means he can never be her boyfriend. She trusts him now! Why? Who needs a reason when she needs that thing in his pants bad? She will do anything for him! She wants it! Who cares about the consequences? SHE WANTS IT AND SHE WANTS IT NOW AND NOW AND NOW AND NOW SO GIVE IT TO HER OR PUPPIES WILL DIE.
Of course, our hero just has to tell her this when it’s pretty clear that she’s not going to give up on having him inside her, even after nobly withholding himself as he diddled her down there with his other non-phallic body parts.
“Last night I let things go too far, because the truth is that I really like you, too. But I’m not good enough for you. I put everyone I love in danger. Whatever is between us can’t go further.”
That only makes him more noble in her eyes SO DAMN IT GIVE IT TO HER OR SHE WILL GNAW OFF THE HEADS OF THOSE PUPPIES. GOOD GRIEF, WHAT DOES A PEEN-HUNGRY VIRGIN COW HAVE TO DO AROUND HERE TO GET SOME DICK?
It’s not that this book is terrible, mind you. Parts revolving around Castillo and his quest can be quite the edge-of-seat kind of page turner, and the author actually manages to make those scenes of him bleeding from all those gunshot wounds kind of… erotic. Oh, don’t look at me like that, we all have our eccentricities. I have to also confess: that scene of Castillo doing that finger diddle on Carolina is also very hot, which is quite impressive indeed considering that I find the heroine as bland as soggy oatmeal.
It’s just that the romance is a flat line, thanks to Carolina who, for reasons only the author will know, remains this starry-eyed dingbat who has blind faith in the hero while coming off at the same time as both cringe-inducing horny and gullible. If she had been allowed to grow up even a bit as the story progresses, A Marriage Deal with the Outlaw will be a better read. In its current form, it is a story that is entirely carried by the hero. Thus, while this one is actually a pretty readable story, if you like your stories to have a heroine that pulls as much weight as the hero, you may still want to approach this one with some degree of caution.