The Marriage Auction
by Audrey Carlan
Published by Blue Box Press
Season One, Volume Three
What would you do for three million dollars?
Four young women enter into a clandestine auction to be married to the highest bidders. For no less than a million dollars a year, for three years, each woman will do what it takes to secure her future. Entangled in a high-stakes game of money, lust, power, and the hope for absolution, this group of women becomes a sisterhood unlike any other.
Once chosen by a man she’s never met and agrees to marry sight unseen…there is no going back. Hidden secrets, wicked desires, fiery couplings and intense family drama are all part of the deal when you willingly enter into The Marriage Auction.
You may now kiss the bride…
Content Warnings: Intended for mature audiences only. Explicit content. Please check the author's website for detailed content warnings.
Things are ramping up in the Marriage Auction!
But I had a little trouble keeping the momentum on interest level here, because the couples all fell for one another too quickly, and now it feels like we are creating more unneeded drama to make the story go longer than it needs to. While Audrey Carlan is a wonderful writer, I think she could have condensed these stories to three volumes instead of four.
Once again, I am going to go couple by couple.
Ruby and Nile: I like them together. I like even more that Ruby has told him about her past, and how respectful he is with her. The whole opposites attract thing works for them, and I am a total simp for an alpha nerd, so I like him as a character. I do, however, wish we got more for them. Their entire conflict for this season is Ruby's past and her trauma from that, and choosing between Nile and his brother, which has already happened. I feel like we should have gotten more interactions between Ruby and Nile. I wanted to see them grow to have feelings for one another, and not be told. I wanted to see even more of Ruby pulling that playful side out of Nile. This story is definitely the weakest of the season, which sucks, considering I like the characters.
Opal and Noah: I think I liked these two just as much as I liked Ruby and Nile. Liked them, but once again their story was really skipped over. I knew this was going to be the outcome (both sisters with both brothers, because there was no way Audrey would introduce us to both brothers, and leave one of them alone at the end), but I was hoping for more of an interesting story. Both of their stories were boring, which sucks.
Sutton and Dakota: I really enjoy these two, but what started out as a strong story, turned out to be a bit boring. They already love each other at this point. His family is accepting of her. They have a plan for the ranch, if they can get her father to sign it over. All pretty cut and dry. I still enjoy their moments though, because their dynamic reminds me a lot of my husband and me, in terms of their banter and teasing. I wish we got more of her grandmothers, and mother's diaries, and found out more about their pasts, and the drama between their families. And maybe some justice for those poor women. Spoiler-y thought ---------------> I don't think we needed the whole pregnancy trope. to come into effect here. While I think they do truly love one another and would make great parents, it just felt like something else that was added in to make their story last longer. <--------------
Savannah and Erik: This is the couple that has me hooked on this story. Slow burn, yet intense. Not a whole lot of steamy moments, but their chemistry is hot. Honestly, these two are great. I absolutely adore their bond with one another, and the truths they tell each other. Honestly, I think I love this pairing, and thier story the most because Audrey Carlan gave us more of them actually getting to know one another, and falling in love. It wasn't just falling on their instant chemistry. Their romance is shown more than told, and I like that. My theory didn't pan out about Jack it seems.
Faith and Joel: This story got more interesting to me. I mean, it's still very predictably, but the emotions and action in their story was exciting to read. I adored the wedding ceremony, and them incorporating vows for each of their children. Again, it reminds me a bit of my own wedding. *see note for a little about me* What I do like, though, is Faith doing something about her ex, to save Joel and her children, instead of running away. It adds a level of action to this story that it needed.
*note* We are not a blended family, but we were quite young when I had our twins. I was 18, and he was 21. We were only together six months, and living together 2 months when I ended up pregnant. We were together two years before getting engaged, and we waited years before getting married, for various reasons. Finances, growing up into adults, raising two active, neurodivergent toddlers (shout out to my now teenage kids, who are kicking high school ass! I know you read these reviews sometimes haha) but more importantly, because we wanted to be sure we were ready for that step. He comes from divorced parents, and I didn't get the best example of a loving marriage from my family, so we both knew that we wanted to wait. When we finally got married, our twins were four years old, and we made our wedding not just about us, but us taking that last step binding our family together. We reworded our vows to include our children, and when I think back to our wedding, some of my favorite memories involve them.
So that's it. I love these books, but I think I'm ready for these couples stories to end. On to the final volume of season one!
I spied my lace panties and lifted up the shredded material.
I held them up just like the men back home did when they’d caught a huge fish on the river. He adjusted his cuffs, pulled out a cloth from his pocket, and started to clean his black-rimmed glasses.
Nile: “It had to be done.”
He gave me a sly, sexy smirk. Ruby: “How do I look?”
I asked, flustered. Nile’s lips twitched.
Nile: “Good enough to eat. Oh wait, I’ve already done that. Most certainly wouldn’t mind seconds.”
His eyes heated, and he licked his lips. I glared and pointed a finger at him.
Ruby: “This is not the time to make me want to jump your bones.”
Nile: “Anytime you want to try, I’m a willing tribute.”
I lifted my head to the ceiling and groaned.
Ruby: “What am I going to do with this playful side of you?”
Nile: “Jump my bones?”
He reiterated my words. Sutton: “Woman, I’m tired of telling you and you not believing me! Not only did I fall in love with you when I was a teenager, but I fell in love when you walked out on that stage in your cowboy boots and a dress you absolutely hated. I fell in love when I kissed you at our insta-wedding ceremony and you tried to punch me in the face a second time. And I sure as hell fell in love with you the first time I slid deep inside you. That was a homecoming for me. One I intend on repeating every day for the rest of our lives. So you’re either in this with me, baby, or I’m going to have to do more to convince you. What’s it going to be?” Sutton: “You know what I want to hear.”
I placed my hands to her slightly rounded hips and held on. She looped her arms around my shoulders, bringing us even closer. Her face just inches from mine. Her eyes were alight with lust and desire. Her fingers combed through my hair and teased the longer locks.
Dakota: “I love your body,”
Sutton: “Mm-hmm. Kind of got that memo, wife. What else?”
My voice was low and gravely, my emotions all over the place, while my body wanted nothing more than to take hold of my woman and fuck her until she screamed.
Dakota: “I love your smile…”
she whispered and ran the tips of her fingers along my lips. I kissed them as they passed, eager for the smallest taste of her.
Dakota: “I love your protective nature…”
she continued coyly. I rolled my eyes.
Sutton: “That’s it.”
I cupped her face and looked her dead in the eye.
Sutton: “Woman, you love me. Now just admit it so I can fuck you until you scream and then make love to you until you sigh.”
She scrunched up her nose, continuing the game. Boldly, I reached down between us and cupped her sex, inserting two fingers knuckle-deep. She gasped and moaned, her head falling back as she thrust against the intrusion.
Sutton: “Now I’m not going to love you here…”
I jacked my fingers a few times until she started to move with the ride, then I promptly pulled them out and covered her heart with my palm.
Sutton: “Until you love me here.”
I drew an invisible heart on the skin where I could feel the real muscle beating wildly.
Dakota: “You’re an ass. And mean!”
Sutton: “Admit you love me, and you get what you want.”
Dakota: “I could take care of myself, you know.”
Her hands moved away from me, and she cupped her succulent breasts with her hands on a moan, then trailed them down toward her sex. I was faster. I had her back against the bed and me poised between her thighs within a single breath. I centered myself right at her entrance, lubing my cock with her arousal until she moaned and thrust her hips against me, trying to force what she wanted most.
Sutton: “Look into my face right now, Dakota, and tell me you don’t love me,”
I demanded. Her lips snapped together. I grinned wide.
Sutton: “Good enough.”
I slammed home, both of us crying out in pleasure. Sutton: “I like that my wife is calling the home I built for us ours, and I very much like the fact that she wants to add personal touches that make it more special. Especially using pieces restored from the land.”
Dakota: “Maybe I’ll engrave it with S + D, so everyone will know how much you love me,”
I teased. He pressed me closer to him. I lifted my chin so our faces were only a few inches apart.
Sutton: “Don’t threaten me with a good time, woman.”
He dipped lower and took my mouth in a series of quick, flirty pecks on the lips. I wanted her hand in marriage. I wanted her body in my bed. More than all of that, I wanted her heart. Dakota: “You’re going to regret making me fall in love with you,”
I whispered. He grinned huge.
Sutton: “Not in a million years, sassy pants.”
I frowned and scrunched up my nose.
Dakota: “I’m not sassy.”
Sutton: “Baby, you are. Now shut up and kiss me so I can help everyone get the horses we saved into our stalls with food and water.” Dakota: “I don’t want you to get hurt. You’re still healing from the barn burns…”
Sutton: “Those were nothing. I got more intense rug burns on my knees when I rode your fine ass from behind the moment we got back last night.”
Dakota: “Jesus Christ!”
She whacked my arm playfully.
Dakota: “Tell the whole world, why don’t you?” Nile: “A kiss is a good place to start,”
I teased. Ruby smiled and then eased forward, her lips just barely touching mine in a featherlight caress.
Nile: “Oh, love, you’re going to have to do far better than a scant peck in order to get the truth out of me,”
I admonished. A saucy smirk adorned her lips.
Ruby: “Just making sure you were paying attention,”
she responded playfully.
Nile: “To you, always,” Mom: “Why the rush?”
She finally asked the question I knew had been burning on her tongue since I’d surprised my parents with my pending nuptials.
Erik: “Because she is my heart. It wasn’t beating until we met. I should have died in that helicopter accident, Mother. It was a miracle I survived. And for over two years, my heart didn’t beat. Nothing mattered. I was a living, breathing shell of nothing. Until her. She has filled me with hope. Made my heart beat again.” Olympia" “Love him to distraction, my dear. You never know how long you’ll have.” Joel: “Eden Marino, today I ask you to accept me as your father. I promise to love, support, and take care of you, all the days of my life.”
Eden: “You want to be my daddy?”
she asked point-blank, and my entire body convulsed with emotion. I too crouched before her.
Faith: “Would you like that, buttercup?”
I whispered, my tears coating my words. She nodded avidly. Penny nudged her side.
Penny: “You’re ’posed to say I do,”
she instructed like the big sister she was turning out to be.
Eden: “I do!”
Eden hollered, and everyone laughed.
Joel: “Here is a token of my love and commitment.”
He latched a diamond pendant around her neck.
Joel: “I love you, sweetheart.”
Eden: “I love you too, Daddy Joel.”
She beamed and fingered the necklace. The tears fell, and I didn’t even try to hide them. Then he handed a matching necklace to me.
Joel: “Do you want to do the honors?”
I nodded and crouched before Penny.
Faith: “Penny, I know you had an amazing mama who loved you very much. But I would like the honor of being your second mother. Never replacing Alexandra but honoring her by loving and committing to you all the days of my life. Will you take me as your mommy?”
Penny smiled wide, opened her arms, and crashed against me.
Penny: “I do, I do, I do!”
she cried against my shoulder. I wiped her tears and then placed the necklace around her neck. I repeated the vow Joel had said to Eden.
Faith: “A token of my love and commitment.” Nile: “Time doesn’t seem to exist when I’m with you. It just slips away along with all of my responsibilities.”
His breath fanned across my lips delectably.
Nile: “It’s refreshing.” Nile: “You are absolute perfection, Ruby. I cannot wait to take you home and continue our play.”
Ruby: “Then why don’t you?”
I argued. His brows rose.
Nile: “Good things come to those who wait.”
Ruby: “No, good girls come when you take them home and fuck them silly, which is what we should do right now.”
Nile: “Is that so?”
Ruby: “Are you saying you don’t want to fuck me?”
Nile: “Oh, my darling, there are many things I want to do with you. Fucking being one of them. More than that, I intend to keep you in my bed, where I will ravish you until we both can’t walk." Opal prodded at a circular slice of black pudding, turning it from front to back.
Opal: “What is this?”
Noah: “Blood sausage,”
I answered. Her head jerked back.
Opal: “I’m sorry. Did you say blood sausage?”
I clapped my hands, wanting to get the show on the road. There was a lot to do if we were to move forward on our plan to dupe my brother and get Ruby off the hook for marrying a man she didn’t love.
Noah: “My lawyers have drawn up the marriage agreement. It is almost identical to the one Nile and I signed for The Marriage Auction with Madam Alana.”
Opal: “What does that mean exactly? Blood sausage? Is that referencing its color, because this is, well, mostly black.”
She inserted the tines of her fork into the sand dollar-sized patty and lifted it up to her nose for a sniff.
Noah: “It means it’s made with pork or beef blood, fat, and grain such as oats or barley. Now, unfortunately, in order to marry in England, we are required to submit our intent to marry to the Register’s Office at least twenty-eight days prior to the wedding. Madam Alana took care of that but supplied Ruby’s name. I won’t be able to pull any strings to make it faster for the two of us.”
Opal: “You eat this? Blood mixed with fat and oatmeal?”
Her nose crinkled, and I finally saw something that distinctly connected the sisters. They crinkled their noses the same way when they didn’t like something. It was endearing and adorable in a way that I thought I might enjoy seeing regularly from the two women.
Noah: “Yes, poppet. It’s a very common dish.”
Opal: “It’s gross. What would make someone think, oh, I know what sounds good! Meat mashed with blood mixed with oatmeal. Yum, yum. Gobble, gobble.”
She continued ranting while inspecting the sausage. I laughed and then let out a long breath.
Noah: “Darling, we really need to hash out these things if we are to move forward with our plan prior to Ruby and Nile’s wedding.”
Opal: “I haven’t agreed to marry you yet. I’m still not sure it’s the right choice.”
She pursed her lips.
Opal: “Why do you have baked beans with eggs, bacon, tomatoes, and the gross blood sausage?”
She continued inspecting her breakfast.
Opal: “It’s a really odd combination. It’s like breakfast and an outdoor barbeque had a baby and voila…this.”
She gestured to her plate as though she was highlighting an item up for sale.
Noah: “Opal, forget about the meal." Sutton: “I’m sorry the Viking let the cat out of the bag.”
Erik: “I’m not a Viking, Jesus Kristus!”
Erik cursed in his language. Dakota: “Wow. Electronic. Plus and minus sign. One line, two lines. Jeez Louise, I didn’t even know they had this many options,”
Sutton: “Pee on one of each, and we’ll compare them,”
Sutton suggested. Dakota turned around, exasperation clear on her face.
Dakota: “You want me to pee on a dozen sticks at the same time? Are you nuts?”
He shrugged, and then went to the fridge, grabbed a bottle of water, and brought it to her.
Sutton: “Feel like you need to pee yet?”
Sutton: “Then drink up. You’ve got a lot of testin’ do to, darlin’.”
He grinned wickedly. Dakota: "I want you to be the first to know, after my husband and the father of this maybe baby.”
Savannah: “Maybe baby? Aw, super cute. I hope it’s positive.”
I clutched my hands together in a prayer position while Erik tried and failed to hide his laughter against the back of my head.
Dakota: “Of course you do.” Dakota held her hand out to Sutton.
Dakota: “Come on, big guy. Let’s go see if we’re about to become parents during all of this crapola.”
Sutton grabbed her hand, and they started up the stairs. When they got a few steps up, he turned back around and stuck his tongue out.
Savannah: “You suck!”
I yelled back.
Sutton: “I do. Very well. Just ask your sister!”
he hollered before entering their bedroom and closing the door with a loud smack. Sutton: “I can’t wait to find out what it is! Or do you want to be surprised?”
Dakota: “People still want to wait to find out? No way. I’m all about instant gratification.”
Sutton: “Me too. That’s how we got into this situation in the first place,” Joel: “I will always love you, Alexandra,”
I stated softly, letting my admission filter into the music and jovial harmony happening all around me.
Joel: “Thank you for showing me how to love you, so that I could one day love her.” Nile: “Ruby, we’ll positively set the honeymoon suite on fire with how badly we want one another.”
A truth I believed wholeheartedly. Her cheeks tinted a berry color once more.
Ruby: “You’re sure I can’t persuade you?”
She bit into her bottom lip, reached out her hand, and tugged the sheet down, revealing my naked lower half. Instantly my cock started to harden. I lifted my leg to a ninety-degree angle and let it fall to the side. My length becoming erect right under her heated gaze.
Nile: “Oh, darling, I’d be disappointed if you didn’t at least try,”
murmured, seduction teasing at the edges of my taunt. Ruby: “You’re going to make me fall in love with you, Nile,”
she confessed, fear clear and present in not only her words but her eyes. Love wasn’t part of the deal.
Nile: “There are worse things that could happen,”
I breathed, the admission surprising us both, if her raised eyebrows were any indication. She smirked, and I could see her facial expression changing to one with sass.
Ruby: “Maybe you’ll be the one to fall in love with me,”
she countered, lifting her legs and wrapping them around my waist, my length rubbing delectably against where I knew she wanted me most.
Nile: “Stranger things have occurred, I am sure.” Noah: “I knew one kiss would spark a flame so bright, neither one of us would want to put it out.”