Kresley Cole is a mega-star of romance, but she hasn't ventured into contemporary erotic serials thus far. But with the first installment of The Professional coming out today, that'll all change. As we did with E.L. James's Fifty Shades of Grey and Samantha Young's On Dublin Street, we asked H&H's bloggers to weigh in with their thoughts on Part 1 of Cole's The Professional, out December 16.
He makes the rules . . .
Mafiya enforcer Aleksandr “The Siberian” Sevastyan’s loyalty to his boss is unwavering, until he meets the boss’s long-lost daughter, a curvy, tantalizing redhead who haunts his mind and heats his blood like no other. Ordered to protect her, Sevastyan will do anything to possess her as well—on his own wicked terms.
Rules are made to be broken . . .
PhD student Natalie Porter had barely recovered from her first sight of the breathtakingly gorgeous Sevastyan before the professional hit man whisks her away to Russia, thrusting her into a world of extreme wealth and wanton pleasures. With every day she spends under his protection, she falls 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…
The plot setup is fabulous—the stuff prime time mini-series are made of: a young, hard-working college student searches for her long-lost Russian parents who put her up for adoption, and gets way more than she bargained for when a Russian hit man shows up to take her back to the Motherland.
Natalie is a feisty, likeable heroine. Even though she’s a virgin (a trope that’s starting to drive me crazy) she at least knows herself sexually and, as a self-described “manalyzer,” isn’t easily impressed. A virgin, but not “virginal.” This is a young woman in control—of her body, her heart, and her life. This makes it really powerful when she falls for Sevastyan. He’s hot, he’s dangerous, and as her Russian mobster father’s henchman, he’s completely forbidden. She’s the last woman in the world he should be attracted to, yet he can’t resist her. And when they hook up (short of actually doing the deed), it’s off the charts hot. My problem is that some of that forbidden fruit tension is lost once they actually get to Russia. Since this is a serial, the slight lag might be remedied when the next installment begins. The book has me hooked enough to read and find out.
Kresley Cole’s The Professional leapt right out of the gate with little warning. Deliciously hot, I found the protagonists interesting. Such complete opposites. Our hero is old school. Older, old-fashioned, course, and completely dominant. Recognizes a woman's independence but believes they are a gentler sex to be cosseted and protected at all costs. His words are at odds with his actions, though. His social skills are rudimental, but I found myself wondering how much of that was an act. He is a walking contradiction. Cole could have gone with a soft female to gentle and tame this beast but instead she chooses a woman whose independence, strength, lack of emotional baggage, and mouth is a refreshing change in this trope. She challenges everyone around her but in a way that isn’t really confrontational.
Her humorous observations made me chuckle. My only qualm was I felt a lack of disconnection between the characters and the storyline. There is so much told but not much offered to validate what we are told. I hope this is merely because part one was overall a set up book. Regardless of my trepidation, I will definitely continue reading this series.
The only thing that could make Kresley Cole's The Professional: Part I better would be instant gratification to read parts II and III immediately. As is her talent, she's created a likeable and relatable heroine who has interests and goals outside of bagging the hot alpha male thrown her way. That said, she can't resist the enigmatic pull of the professional hitman known as The Siberian.
In Part I she's just beginning to discover what he really does for her biological father, but what she knows is he's loyal, driven, and possessive in the ways she finds most attractive. She speaks like she knows quite a bit about sex, but she doesn't have personal experience. Under his hands, though, she comes alive and discovers she likes giving herself over to him. The problem? He worries the act betrays the man who saved him—her father.
So forbidden love coupled with 'can someone bring me ice water, please?' sex scenes between characters who are well-rounded and relatable? Where do we sign up? Also, can we please have more Russian heroes, because I'm so into that.
This is the kind of heroine I've been expecting in the past installments of the IAD series. Natalie makes me think fondly of Myst or Mariketa, because she's got the attitude that I love with Cole heroines. I cannot stand the cousin, Filip. Sevastyan is pretty amazing and the sex in this book is probably the most extreme I've read from Cole since the icicle scene in Untouchable, her novella in the Deep Kiss of Winter anthology with Gena Showalter. For fans of classic Cole, I say give The Professional, a shot (literally), you won't be disappointed and despite the fact that it's a serial, it ends on a pleasant enough note to have readers wanting more.
I have been a big fan of Kresley Cole’s IAD for some years now and have turned all my PNR friends on to her work. I have always found her characters to be likeable and her stories to be captivating and exciting. When I heard that she was writing an erotica, I wondered how it could be more stimulating that some of her very memorable IAD scenes, including my personal favorite—the bath scene from Demon in the Dark. Just thinking about that one could warm me up on the coldest night.
The characters in The Professional drew me in from the beginning with Natalie and her friends out drinking and Natalie using her manalyst powers to I.D. the losers in the bar until a gorgeous and clearly dangerous, cross between cage fighter and GQ model walks in and takes her breath away. I, along with Natalie, was drawn in by Sevastyan’s penetrating stare and cool demeanor. While his eyes eat her up, he coldly turns her down and walks away. From that moment, I was hooked. I have to know what’s behind the mind and heart of the very intense Sevastyan.
Natalie is like all Kresley’s heroines: intelligent, strong-willed and smart-mouthed, and you know that there is no way for Sevastyan to resist her charms. Natalie is working three jobs for money to search for her biological parents. She never expected that search to uncover a father who was a Russian Mafia boss, who would have his enforcer drag her out of her house in the middle of the night to bring her to Russia for her own protection and turn her boring, farm girl life upside down. She is even more surprised by how intensely she wants this man whose very presence screams danger. She will do whatever she needs to do to convince him that this boss’s daughter isn’t forbidden.
The only things I truly hated was the fact that this was Part I of a serial story. I avoid anything written in serial form since nothing is more frustrating than being left hanging in the middle of a story and having to wait months for all the parts to be released. Worse, not only does Kresley leave you hanging in the middle of story, she leaves you in the middle of a scene. I had to re-read it again from the beginning just to make sure, and sure enough, she leaves us as frustrated as Natalie in her bathtub. The next two parts can’t be released soon enough for me.
It’s a little-known fact that I love Kresley Cole. Okay, kidding here obviously, because my love for her writing is a well-known fact—both in my personal life and on this site. The Professional does nothing to lessen that love and, in fact, makes it grow exponentially. When I first heard the news that KC would be writing an erotica series, I wasn’t shocked. Like, at all. Why, may you ask? It’s a natural progression from the steam she infuses into every scene of her Immortals After Dark series. It was actually more shocking to me when she went into YA than into erotica. Like her PNR, KCole’s erotica is full of steam (duh), impressive worldbuilding, fun heroines, and witty dialogue. Do I ever think I would have a friend that would promise to “Skull-fuck him… How do you say ‘desecrate his motherfucking corpse’ in Ruskki?” but man do I wish I did.
It is because the voice is so similar that I am able to so easily love this new series. The Gamemakers switch out Lycans and Valkyrie for the Russian mob. However just because the element of the paranormal is gone doesn’t mean the worldbuilding isn’t any less impressive. We are transported just as rapidly to Russia as Natalie is. I would love to see more of the world she is in, but I can believe that we know just about as much about her father's organization as she does, so I'm happy to coast in this first section. In order to go forward with Natalie, however, I'm going to need to know more about her and her father's world, rather than simply be told about it—for example we've been told her relationship with her mother is bad, we've been told she is a hard worker and intelligent but we haven't actually felt any of that. I hope that's what we see in Part 2.
The Gamemakers also gives us Aleksei Sevastyan, who is as dark—and I imagine as complicated—as any of the best erotic heroes already out there. What’s best about Sevastyan is that he accepts that Natalie is an empowered, intelligent, and sexually liberated woman. Not only does he accept it, but it is what draws him to her. On a fundamental level, he not only is attracted to Natalie, but he respects her.
The final scene (or half a scene) of the book left me panting for more and the chemistry between these two pretty much melted my eyeballs. Bossy has never looked better.
Like Tori and Jennifer, I didn't feel as strong a connection to Natalie as I would have liked. We do hear she's a Ph.D. candidate working three jobs, but the way she's shown is as though she's a casual student, not a focused, driven person. I found the serial to be totally fun, though, because of the hot sex, Natalie's inner (and outer) snark, and the zest with which she approaches sex. As Jamie said, she might be a virgin, but she's not 'virginal.' In fact, she definitely puts Sevastyan off-kilter, because he expects she'll react certain ways, and then she totally doesn't. I am definitely on-board for more, I just want to know more about Natalie than I've been told thus far.
Learn more or order a copy of The Professional: Part 1 by Kresley Cole, out now: