ARC Review: The Professional by Kresley Cole

Format: E-booktheprofessional
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance
Series: The Game Maker, #1
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Hero: Roman Aleksandr Sevastyan
Heroine: Natalie Marie Porter
Sensuality: 4.5
Date of Publication: May 6, 2014
Started On: May 3, 2014
Finished On: May 8, 2014

Natalie Marie Porter has been searching for her birth parents for the past six years. Determined and not ready to give up describes her best. Natalie is studious, hardworking and studying her way to acquire her PhD in History. Fixated on her end goal, Natalie lets little get in her way, and she especially does not have time for the the usual run of the mill variety of men that either bores her to death or sparks no interest in her whatsoever.

All that changes the night Aleksandr Sevastyan walks into the bar Natalie and her friends are at, sparking a heat deep inside of her that surprises and shocks Natalie a bit, but not enough to prevent herself from giving into the goading of her friends to make a pass at the man who holds her enthralled. But then a bizarre set of events finds Natalie whisked away to Russia, Sevastyan being the man who had been assigned by her father to protect her at any cost.

Written in the first person from Natalie’s perspective, The Professional is wrought with sexual tension right from the very beginning. Natalie feels as if the very ground she had been standing on had tilted on its own axis taking her along for a wild ride that sets the tone for the whole experience. Though Natalie might be a mere babe in the woods when it comes to the actual reality of hot, wicked and wanton sex, she understands enough to grasp the fact that she and Sevastyan shares the kind of attraction that doesn’t happen often.

Meeting her beloved father and then once again being taken away by Sevastyan to protect her from the danger that surrounds her, Natalie finds herself dependent on Sevastyan for more than just her well being. Sevastyan has the ability to play her like a well strung guitar, the ability to turn her world upside down with just one searing glance from those golden eyes. Sevastyan tries keeping her at arm’s length, to protect her from the darkness that stalks the depths of his soul, that fights and rages to break free from the control her exerts on himself.

It was only after I finished reading this and looked the book up on Goodreads that I realized that The Professional had actually been published before as a set of three short novels. Bearing similarities to 5o Shades of Grey in certain aspects of the story, The Professional certainly dwells into darker aspects of BDSM than 50 Shades which I would say barely skimmed through the subject. Sevastyan is dark. He is the sort of dark that is brusque, uncommunicative and emotionally distant and has a past that he is ashamed of. He is the sort of man who would best be described as sex on a stick. The tattoos, that body and the fighter stance of his all sums up to just that. I can’t even pronounce his name properly but I am woman enough to realize the kind of havoc that a man like him could cause a woman.

I love dark heroes. Anyone who reads my reviews would know that I have a thing for them. The darker the better. And Sevastyan while he did have the essential ingredients that makes a dark hero unforgettable, I don’t think he touched the very heart of me without which my soul refuses to engage when it comes to characters and even people for that matter. Sevastyan is all about control in the bedroom and even out of it, but he does it all because he wants to see to the pleasure of his woman. I think what made it a bit difficult for me to get on board wholeheartedly when it came to Sevastyan was the fact that he plays a dangerous game with Natalie and her feelings; though he certainly rocks her world sexually and then some, he refuses to let her in, perhaps fearful of the fact that she might not find it in herself to be with him if it ever came to that. I find it tiresome when female characters do the constant advance and retreat dance and I felt Sevastyan was doing that more than one half of the story.

Perhaps one reason that I found it hard to get involved with Sevastyan’s character on a level that would have made me fall head over heels in love with him was the lack of his point of view in the story. I dislike reading stories written in first person for that very reason. I feel that the reader is put at a disadvantage when a story is written from just one single character’s point of view and multiple characters points of views can have the opposite effect. I wanted to get inside Sevastyan’s mind, perhaps that was what Kresley intended when she wrote the story this way; to drive her readers crazy with the need to know Sevastyan. But I felt shortchanged in a way in never knowing what he actually was thinking and feeling, especially during crucial moments to the story. All the reader has to guide her through are Natalie’s perception of Sevastyan’s feelings and that I felt played a role in making Sevastyan seem more detached than he should have been.

While Natalie had enough spunk to weather through the absolute storm that is Sevastyan, there were times I found her to be a bit of a handful too. But nevertheless it all worked out in the end for both of them, quite wonderfully so I must say. It has been a long while since I actually read a novel featuring hardcore BDSM aspects. And I have to say that I have never thought that BDSM actually requires a lot from both partners physically and mentally. Kresley actually managed to enlighten me on a subject that is fascinating and yet at the same time I know is not for me. A romance every now and then featuring BDSM to a certain extent is all I can manage of the lifestyle, and even then certain aspects somehow do not sit well with me. Perhaps it is the feminist in me that balks at the thought of being collared for pleasure. But that in no way diminished the impact that Kresley sought for and achieved with the countless scorching scenes of sex included in the story.

I am thinking that Sevastyan’s very interesting brothers might have stories of their own coming out soon. The Professional has definitely intrigued me enough to want to read about them, especially the younger unforgiving one whom I am thinking would make for a forbidding hero at best. Recommended for those who love scorching hot BDSM novels the likes of 50 Shades of Grey. But then again, this is darker and edgier, so consider yourself duly warned.

Final Verdict: Taut & intense; The Professional definitely leaves its mark on you!

Favorite Quotes

“His type,” she continued blithely, “usually make up for any shortcomings with their mouths. True story.”
I told her, “And you better be careful, Jessebel, or else you’ll collect another admirer who clings like lichen.”
“I can’t help it that this is the Bermuda Triangle”—she pointed at her crotch—“when guys venture there, they tend to stay.”
I tapped my chin. “Oh, I thought you called it that because it’s sucked in lots of semen.”

His spellbinding eyes were the color of amber, irises ringed with black.
As I noted additional details—scarred knuckles, tattoos on his fingers under those rings, chiseled jawline clean-shaven—I perceived the heat coming off his big body. Then I got my first mind-numbing hit of his scent.
Crisp, masculine, intoxicating.
Blindsiding.

I felt cold air between my legs, just as I saw that my robe had come open at the belted waist. Everything below was exposed. My pale skin glowed in the moonlight, the trimmed thatch of red curls stark in comparison.
I was too stunned to react, pinned by his gaze. His lids grew heavy, his nostrils flaring. His broad chest seemed to struggle for breath. I was naked from the waist down but had no way to cover myself. I twisted my arms to free my wrists—until I saw that look of his.
Dark, hungry, molten. Dangerous.

Shaking, I watched as he straightened his ringed thumb from my hip until it reached my mons. He brushed the tip of his finger along the edge of my curls. It was so slow and unexpected, so tender, I couldn’t bite back a moan.
He touched me as if with . . . reverence.
I no longer saw signs of that iron control; instead he looked lost.
Like I probably looked in that moment.

I’d never been more confused in my life. “Are you . . . are you going to kiss me?”
With his accent thicker than I’d heard it, he rasped, “Would you want a man like me to take your mouth?” His thumb ring glinted when he gave another slow stroke.
Good question. I answered myself when words spilled from my lips: “Try it and see.”
“You think I’d stop with a kiss?”
“You assume I’d want you to?”

Inner shake. “I picked you because you were a mystery. I can read men with ease, but not you. That made me curious.”
He rested his hand on the wall above my head, surrounding me with his heat. “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?”

“If you tease me again, pet, you will not enjoy the consequences.” He left me, shutting the door behind him.
Note to self: Tease Sevastyan at earliest opportunity, investigate “consequences.”
In that closet, still warmed—and wet—from his attentions, I decided two things:
Aleksandr Sevastyan had to be my first lover. And I’d let him think he made the rules.

Blazing in his gaze was that bone-deep yearning, the one that called to mine. “What do you want from me, Natalie?”
How to articulate it? I want to kiss you until you forget your pain for a time, want to hold you tight against me because I can’t seem to get my body close enough to yours. In other words . . . “I want you to make love to me.”
Before, I hadn’t slept with him because of the future and con- sequences. I wasn’t sure I would live long enough to enjoy the former, so I couldn’t be bothered with the latter.
At my admission, his brows drew tight; he looked like he was unraveling.
I asked him, “What do you want from me?”
I gasped when he fisted the collar of my dampened shirt. “I want what’s mine.” He tore the material from me with one rip, stripping me.

Then his hand trailed down to cup me. He slipped his middle finger inside my spread lips, making me moan, “Yes, yes . . .”
When he felt how slick I was, a defeated sound broke from his chest and a second finger joined the first to open me.
Then he withdrew those fingers to his mouth, his lids sliding closed as he sucked clean my cream. Another dip, another suck. As if he was drinking me one drop at a time.

He strode toward the bed with a predator’s gait, big hands unbuckling his belt—as menacing a gesture as I’d ever seen.
I steeled myself as he reached for me.
He snatched at my hips, flipping me over on my stomach, then shoved his pants to his thighs. Like an animal, he impaled me with one brutish thrust, mounting me.
His cock had to fight against my clamping walls because I was already coming, his rough invasion triggering my release. “Oh, my God!”

Even as he tore my blouse from me like it was tissue paper, he was giving me his mind-numbing, toe-curling lover’s kiss—as if he couldn’t help himself.
As if his mind was saying Discipline her, while his heart was saying Kiss her.
Though my mind screamed Resist him, my heart told me . . . Surrender.

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