The Marriage Auction
by Audrey Carlan
Published by Blue Box Press
Season One, Volume Two
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.
I became aware of The Marriage Auction books when I received an arc of Volume One, and no joke, within a few chapters, I was hooked. I quickly pre-ordered the rest of the volumes in the season, so when they released, I could find out just what was going on in these pairings.
Faith and Joel: Not my favorite couple to follow, but its simply because love at first sight is not my favorite trope, and I find their story a bit predictable. I like the characters, I like their story, I just hate that their feelings happen for one another so fast. And kids. I know, I know. I have three kids myself. But again, not my favorite trope. I do however feel the chemistry between these two, and when they are alone, its sizzling. My prediction for this couple is hidden between the arrows. Highlight if you are interested ---------------> It's so obvious Faith is Eden's mother, and not her sister. I'm predicting this is the case. <---------------
Nile/Ruby/Noah: Again, not my favorite ... pairing? Agreement? haha. I think this could have been more interesting if more was put into the story. The brothers "fighting" over Ruby is kind of boring. Fact is, I didn't feel very much chemistry between Ruby and the one she ends up picking. The words are all there. I'm being told she picks him, and he is elated, but I don't feel it. If that makes sense. I happen to like the characters on their own, and their story, its just a little flat, and predictable. My prediction: ---------------> Noah and Opal end up together. Completing the whole opposites attract circle. <-----------------
Dakota and Sutton: This was the couple I liked the least, and now probably now one of my favorites. Cowboys don't do it for me, but Sutton does. An alpha when he needs to be, but also supports Dakota, and lets her be in charge as well ... they are good together. The whole forbidden enemies to lovers thing worked out for them. Kind of funny that what started out as the most dysfunctional relationship out of the bunch, turns out to be the healthiest. My theory with these two is that they get everything they want. Sutton gets Dakota, because she falls for him like he has for her. She gets the ranch. Simple. I love learning about the family history though. Very interesting
Erik and Savannah: This is the story that gripped me the most. I just HAD to buy all four volumes for this story. The girl who breaks up with her longtime childhood love and fiancé to out herself up for auction, to help Dakota get the ranch out of debt, and the mysterious, sexy, Viking like man who is immediately drawn to the curvy, gorgeous woman on stage? With the immediate chemistry between the two of them had me hooked. Their steamy moments ... hot. SO HOT! How is it that hot when they aren't having sex yet? Theory ---------------> Anyone else suspicious of Jack? I immediately pegged him for attempting to murder Erik with the helicopter crash. We'll see. Not sure what is to come with this couple. While I believe they will end up together, I'm not sure how Savannah will get over her feelings for her ex as quickly as she needs to. <---------------
I am honestly surprised by how much I am enjoying these books, but they truly are great. The relationships do move along at as fast pace, but not off-puttingly so. I am truly enjoying Audrey Carlan's writing style, and I can't wait to start the third.
Faith: I can’t possibly believe my luck that you were there, that you were the one who saw me. Really saw me that night as I stood on the stage, feeling like I was selling my soul to the highest bidder.”
Joel: “Not your soul, but your hand in marriage. I endeavor to win your heart and your soul.” Joel: “You tease me in such a way I want to eat you up, right here, right now.”
He ran his nose alongside mine, revealing a playful trait I hadn’t seen much from him. I grinned widely, enjoying this side of the man I would marry soon.
Joel: “And she smiles, when I’m clearly using Herculean effort in order to not ravish you where you sit.”
He sighed dramatically. That had me chuckling and blushing like a schoolgirl after being kissed stupid by her high school crush.
Joel: “We will be in Greece soon, and there you will share my bed. We shall see how you feel when I tease you mercilessly, my precious fiancée.” Joel: “Fuck the agreement. Pretend it doesn’t exist. You are mine, and I am yours. That’s the agreement. I protect and care for you, and you do the same for me. Yes?” Nile: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t know all of the ins and outs of a marriage as I have never been in one,”
Ruby: “Have you been in a long-term relationship?”
she asked. I gave a half-hearted shrug.
Nile: “Not exactly.”
She let out a dry, sarcastic laugh.
Ruby: “Then why am I here? Why me? Why get married to a woman you don’t even know? It makes no sense. Both you and Noah are good-looking, insanely rich, and have women drooling everywhere you go.”
Nile: “They are not you.”
I answered without thinking, something I didn’t often do, surprising myself with the response.
Joel: “Iisoús Christós. I want you. I’ll never stop wanting you, Faith. Never!” Sutton: Besides, I’m your person.”
I stopped laughing and held his massive chest tight then lifted my head and rested my chin on him so I could look into his eyes.
Dakota: “You’re my person?”
he said as though it weren’t a huge thing.
Dakota: “What does that mean to you?”
I asked softly. I didn’t know why but the moment felt important somehow. He adjusted his body and then dragged me until I was on top of him, my legs straddling his hips. I tried not to let that become an issue by grinding on top of his hot body. As he said, this wasn’t the time. The reminder sure as hell didn’t stop me from feeling like I could use a round in the hay with the ol’ husband though. Especially to wash away some of the tar and grit of yesterday’s experience. I crossed my arms over his chest and rested my chin on my hands, my focus on his ridiculously attractive face. Sutton was the Marlboro Man come to life. Even with messy hair and more scruff on his jaw than usual, he was stupid good-looking.
Sutton: “I’m your person, Dakota. When the shit hits the fan, I’m the one who’s going to help fix it. When you’re hurt and need to be held…”
He hooked a thumb and pointed at his face.
Sutton: “I’m the guy who does the holding. When someone fucks with you, they deal with me. I’m pretty sure I proved that yesterday. With Mom, and then with your pa. Anyone messes with Dakota Goodall, they mess with me.” Sutton: “You all right?”
She prodded delicately at the split in her lip.
Dakota: “Yeah, just forgot I had an ugly, jacked-up mug.”
I clacked the tongs in my hand to gain her attention.
Sutton: “My wife is not ugly. Woman, you’re the prettiest female I’ve seen in the entire state of Montana and beyond. Stop fishin’ for compliments,” Sutton: “Sutton, eyes off your wife’s ass. She’s hurt,”
I warned myself.
Sutton: “Nothing good will come of watching that fine ass…”
I continued talking to myself.
Dakota: “What fine ass?”
Dakota chuckled and placed two plates onto the table, one with a half cob of corn, the other with two full ears. I grinned.
Sutton: “Just giving myself a reminder not to ogle my wife when she’s not feelin’ a hundred percent.”
I pulled the steaks off and placed them on a serving platter.
Dakota: “Ah, I see. Because your primal instincts can’t play nice?”
Her tone was lighthearted.
Sutton: “Somethin’ like that.” Savannah: “Sometimes the darkest, ugliest truths can transform into a thing of beauty once you’ve given them enough light and love.”
Erik: “Is that what you’re doing for me? Shedding your light and love on me, elskede?” Faith: "Thank you, Penny. For being such a brave and strong girl back there when Eden was hurting. You’re a very good friend.”
Penny frowned and pursed her lips then turned and spoke to Joel, seemingly frustrated all of a sudden.
Penny: “Óchi fíle. I aderfí mou,”
she snapped. Joel chuckled quietly and nodded, then responded, but I hadn’t a clue what they were talking about. Penny grumbled under her breath.
Penny: “Óchi fíle. I aderfí mou,”
she repeated, then crossed her arms over her chest and scrunched up her nose, her face all pinched and red.
Faith: “What’s the matter? What did she say?”
I turned to Joel and waited.
Joel: “She’s mad.”
Joel smirked but said no more.
Faith: “If she’s mad at me, I’d like to know why. Is it about what happened to Eden? Is she scared?”
Joel: “Undoubtedly, but I think she’s okay now that she sees Eden is fine and being helped by the doctor. She’s mad that you called Eden her friend.”
Penny: “Óchi fíle. I aderfí mou!”
Penny said, looking me straight in the eyes.
Faith: “What does that mean?”
I asked, my own irritation rising. I really needed to learn Greek fast. Maybe I could take some classes.
Joel: “She says that Eden is not her friend. She’s her sister.”
Joel grinned. That comment made my nose tingle and the waterworks threaten to start again.
Faith: “Boy, you and your daughter do not move slow.”
I smiled. Erik: “Elskede, that was just the start.”
He snuffled against my neck, kissing his way down to my breasts. He sucked one peak and then brought his head back far enough so he could look at my bare chest.
Erik: “You have the most gorgeous body.”
He shook his head as he ran a finger around one nipple, watching intently as it became erect.
Erik: “I’m going to spend all day tasting every beautiful…”
He sucked and kissed the peak he’d worked over, my body liquifying and warming all over again. I placed my hand over her heart.
Joel: “Don’t you feel it in here?”
I grabbed her hand and placed it flat against my chest, right over my heart.
Joel: “It’s there, waiting for you to accept it.”
Faith: “You’re giving me your heart?”
she whispered, emotion making her voice small and vulnerable.
Joel: “Faith, I gave you my heart the first time I kissed you. Before we ever signed on the dotted line. I knew you were for me the second you took your first step out onto that stage. Everything that has happened since has only cemented that truth.”
Faith: “The truth?”
Joel: “You were always meant to be mine,” Sutton: “You’re here because I laid eyes on a girl when I was fourteen years old and fell in love right then and there. History bound our families by some cosmic plague. We’re destined to repeat the mistakes until we finally get it right. Don’t you see? We were meant to break the curse. Change the tides. Rewrite history. For once, a McAllister and a Goodall are married, and until this very moment, rather happily.” Penny: "Are you going to marry my baba and become my mommy?”
She bit into her bottom lip and swished her dress from side to side as though she was nervous even asking. I grabbed her hand and brought her over to the velvet chaise and sat down. Penny crawled up and sat next to me.
Faith: “Do you want me to marry your father?”
I asked. She nodded avidly.
Penny: “He smiles so much when he looks at you. And he’s home. And you brought me a sister.”
She said the last with awe.
Penny: “I’ve always wanted a mommy and a sister,”
she admitted, the sincerity in her tone gut-wrenching. I held her hand.
Faith: “I’m going to marry your father very soon. And if it’s okay with him, I’d be honored to be your mommy. But I also know how much your birth mother loved you. And how much your father loved her, so we’ll keep her memory and the love she had for you both very much alive. So, if you want, you can call me Mama Faith, Mommy, or continue calling me Mimi like Eden does. How does that sound?”
I pushed a lock of her hair behind her ear.
Penny: “Will you promise to stay my mommy forever and ever?”
Her lip trembled, and she looked away. I cupped her chin and shifted her face until I had her full attention.
Faith: “Nothing is forever, sweetheart. What I can promise is that I will love and care for you until I’m old and gray. Until I have no more breath in my body. How’s that?”
Penny: “That’s a long time.” Faith: “You love me?”
He smiled wide, his entire face becoming more handsome than ever.
Joel: “We had this discussion yesterday, my love. Why does this surprise you?”
I shook my head.
Faith: “No, you said you’d given me your heart. You did not use the words I love you, not once.”
Joel: “Darling, I told you that I knew you were the one for me the moment I laid eyes on you. I promised I’d keep you safe. I told you I’d given you my heart. What more can I say to make you understand how I feel?”
I looked from left to right and pursed my lips, feeling a little silly and a lot bewildered.
Faith: “I only need three words,”
I admitted. He laughed and cupped my face then pressed his lips to mine in a hard and impactful kiss. Then he eased back, and our gazes met and held.
Joel: “Faith Marino, I, Joel Castellanos, am deeply, ridiculously, marvelously in love with you. I want to marry you. I want to have children with you. I want to grow old and gray with you. I want to love my daughter, Eden, and any other children we bring into our lives until we no longer have breath in our bodies. How’s that?” Mom: “Girls, do you know what the most important thing is when choosing a man to share your life with?”
she asked. Kota shook her head and sat up on her knees, her ankles under her butt.
Dakota: “What, Mama?”
Mom: “It’s not the things he can provide you, or the house he lives in, the car he drives… None of that matters. It’s the way he treats you that’s important. Even when he’s having a hard day. Especially when he’s having a hard day.”