Devious Deal by Sarah Bale

Devious Deals: A Dark Contemporary Romance Inspired by The Little Mermaid and Tarzan

Enter the captivating world of “Devious Deals,” a dark contemporary romance that draws inspiration from the beloved tales of The Little Mermaid and Tarzan. Throughout the story, readers will find plenty of unmistakable references that pay homage to these classic stories. It was done in a way that it wasn’t campy and created instant connections to the story.  

Ari Triton finds herself trapped in an unimaginable predicament—forced into an arranged marriage with Max Erics to settle her father’s debts. Living a life of mental and physical abuse, she has become a mere shadow of her former self. However, a glimmer of hope shines through when Ari is unexpectedly rescued in Las Vegas by the enigmatic Sea Warlock, Kieran Van der Zee, or so she believes.

Kieran is a man of ruthless dominance and unwavering control. He bends to no one, not even his fiancé, Jane. But when Ari unexpectedly falls into his life, their fates entwined by a contractual agreement, he finds it increasingly challenging to resist her allure.

The premise of “Devious Deals” holds great promise, combining the elements of a dark romance with the allure of a contemporary fairy tale. However, the fast-paced nature of the story often leaves readers feeling like they need to backtrack to ensure they haven’t missed any vital details. Several time jumps over the course of a few months create a sense of missed opportunities for character development and relationship building between the main characters. Consequently, the connection between Ari and Kieran feels somewhat lacking, making it difficult to fully invest in their happily ever after.

On a personal level, Kieran’s treatment of Ari raises concerns, leaving readers questioning why she would have feelings for someone who treats her so poorly. Further exploration of their time together could have provided valuable insight into their relationship and clarified Ari’s infatuation. While the book initially explores interesting aspects of Dom/sub dynamics, this theme is somewhat abandoned as the story progresses, leaving readers longing for a more in-depth exploration.

Ari’s frequent bouts of tears also become a recurring theme, overshadowing her moments of strength, particularly towards the end. While understandable given the circumstances, it feels as though she cries incessantly, leaving readers yearning for a female character with a stronger backbone, especially when confronted by someone like Kieran.

Nevertheless, the character of Sebastian shines as a reliable support system for Ari, providing much-needed relief during tense moments. He fearlessly stands up to his boss, a trait that readers may have wished to see more of from Ari herself.

Overall, “Devious Deals” offers an enjoyable story, but it could have delved deeper into the intricacies of the relationship between the main characters, moving beyond surface-level dynamics.

Book Stats:
Rating 3.5/5
Series: Bale’s Villainous Tales Book 3
Trope: age-gap, alphahole, anti-hero, bdsm, billionaire, damaged-hero, danger-stalker-kidnapping, dark, dirty-talker, fairy-tale-retelling, forbidden, forced-proximity, kink, level-5-steam, love-triangle, mafia, possessive-alpha-hero, rescue-romance, sex-club
CW: Dubious Consent, HuCow Kink, on Page Violence

Previous Books in the Series Review: Savage Sin