Series: The Game Maker #1
Published by Gallery Books
Published on April 14th 2014
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The highly anticipated complete novel of The Professional—the first installment in #1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole’s scorching Game Maker series, an erotica collection that has readers asking: How hot is too hot?
He makes the rules…
Mafiya enforcer Aleksei “The Siberian” Sevastyan’s loyalty to his boss knows no bounds, until he meets the boss’s long-lost daughter, a curvy, feisty redhead who haunts his mind and heats his blood like no other. Ordered to protect her, Aleksei will do anything to possess her as well—on his own wicked terms.
Rules are made to be broken…
Grad student Natalie Porter had barely recovered from her first sight of the dark and breathtaking Sevastyan before the professional enforcer whisks her away to Russia, thrusting her into a world of extreme wealth and wanton pleasures. Every day under his protection leads her deeper under his masterful spell.
Are you ready to play?
Yet all is not as it seems. To remove Natalie from an enemy’s reach, Sevastyan spirits her into hiding. From an opulent palace in Russia to the decadent playgrounds of the mega-wealthy in Paris, the two lovers will discover that even their darkest—and most forbidden—fantasies can come true…
**Please note: The Audiobook version of The Professional is in 3 parts. The review below covers AJ’s overall thoughts of all three parts. (Though the e-book version is all one book.)**
3.5 Scorching Hot Russian stars!!!
I’m fairly new to Kresley Cole as an author, but I love her paranormal writing, so I was very keen to try something contemporary. Smart, feisty girl meets dark and mysterious Russian badass – I was hooked from that alone (I love anything Russian). I knew this book was super smutty going in, but I was pleasantly surprised that there was some depth there too, and I really enjoyed the non-romantic story that develops alongside the intense UST and dirty, hot-as-hell romance.
24 year old Natalie is a hard working girl studying for her PhD and working three jobs in order to support herself and fund the search for her birth parents. While out partying with her friends, she is drawn to a huge, rugged beast of a man who quickly shoots down her advances, only to turn up at her house claiming to work for her biological father. Introducing himself as Aleksandr ‘The Siberian’ Sevastyan, he immediately whisks Natalie away to Russia, where her father is some sort of billionaire Mafia boss and is apparently desperate to meet her.
It’s a great set up, but the focus of the story is the definitely the mad lust between Natalie and Sevastyan, and oh holy God, the chemistry between them is crazy! From the first glance, Natalie wants him like she’s never wanted anybody else, and Sevastyan’s intensity is absolutely shiver-inducing! All clenching muscles and dark and broody eye fuckery, he has a murky past which he keeps hidden, and is admittedly a bad guy, head enforcer for her father, and a trained killer. From the very beginning he makes it clear that he likes thing rough, and he needs to be in control, and he doesn’t think Natalie can handle it.
“When a woman singles me out”— he leaned down to murmur at my ear—“it’s because she wants to get fucked. She looks at the scars and tattoos and knows she’ll get fucked hard.”
I gasped, melting for him.
“Is that what you wanted of me, Natalya?”
I love Natalie! She’s smart, sarcastic and sassy as hell. She’s in an extreme situation, and acts appropriately, but she eventually throws herself into the adventure, desperate to see where she came from and eager to experience as much as she can – including living in luxury in a former tsar’s palace, getting to know her adoring father, and getting his incredibly sexy enforcer into bed. I love the way she handles Sevastyan, and her inner monologue is hilarious!
Was it too much to ask for an attractive, dominant guy with sexual skill, one who wasn’t a minute-to-win-it two-pump chump?
Natalie’s shameless flirting is a fantastic contrast to Sevastyan’s domineering badassery. I love the banter between these two. Laden with suggestion, it builds the intensity between them brilliantly. There is initially some back and forth between them because of the intensity with which he wants her, and the fact that he won’t disrespect the man he loves as a father by doing the things he wants to do to his daughter. But neither of them can hold out for too long, and when Sevastyan makes his claim… damn!
“You’re a smart girl. You’re going to replay everything we’ve done, and you’re going to reach the same conclusion I have.” He moved in close, leaning down to kiss my jawline and lower.
“And wh- what conclusion is that?” …
He pressed his lips directly to my pulse point, making my knees weak. “Eto ne izbezhno dlya nas.” You and I are inevitable.
But just as things are starting to progress, they are engulfed in a mafia turf war which changes everything. Desperate to keep Natalie safe, Sevastyan once again whisks her away, this time to Paris, where they truly begin to explore each other, and oh holy God! Sevastyan is possessive and dominant with a filthy mouth and this book is hot. Absolutely, freaking, sizzling hot! It’s dirty, it’s kinky, it’s smuttier than all hell, and even I was shocked at some of these scenes! When they’re not doing it, they’re either talking or thinking about it. The things that Sevastyan says, and the explicitness of their scenes together push this book firmly into the realms of BDSM erotica, and there’s a lot of this going on…
“You” – thrust – “are” – thrust – “mine.”
But there is depth to the story as well. There is a true relationship in the making, but Sevastyan has never been in a relationship before and Natalie has to fight to get to know him – begging him to reveal his secrets, only for him to keep closing down on her. The man runs hot and cold as he keeps Natalie mindless with orgasms while he struggles with what he’s feeling, but Natalie is only prepared to put up with being kept at arm’s length for so long.
It’s all a bit dramatic, but I enjoyed watching the development of things between them, and I really liked seeing Sevastyan retain his badassery while still softening towards Natalie.
“You are gutting me, love. You want to leave, you have reason to. But I can’t let you go any more than I can quit breathing.”
I read this book in the three parts that it was originally published in, and I think I probably examined each installment more thoroughly than if I had just reflected back on the story as a whole. The beginning was fantastic and instantly sucked me in, but as the story went on I think the sex and relationship drama was a little excessive, and I would have liked a bit more of the mafia story which started off so strongly only to become pretty much non existent towards the end.
I really liked the addition of Natalie’s best friend, Jess. She is loving and supportive, but she has absolutely no filter, is highly sexed and outrageously open and had me laughing at her antics.
“Seriously, you have no idea how much your situation is affecting me. I’ve been stress-eating my way across Greece.”
I frowned. “You don’t stress-eat—”
“Cock, Natalie. I was stress-eating cock. There, you made me say it, happy now?”
And I also really liked the introduction of Maksim – Sevastyan’s arrogantly smug brother, and hero of the next book. I think I’m going to enjoy him, and I’m looking forward to going on with the series.
Overall, I really enjoyed this one. 3.5 stars.
I listened to this as an audiobook, and Kimberley Alexis’ narration is fantastic. She even does the accents, and let me tell you – NOTHING is hotter than dirty talk in a Russian accent *dies*.