The Player (Game Maker #3)
Valkyrie Press / April 12, 2016 / $12.99 print, $3.99 digital
In this searing stand-alone installment of the erotic Game Maker Series, #1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole brings readers a tale of a man racked with dark desires and the beautiful young woman who could sate him at last.
A madman with a shadowed past . . . In Las Vegas, Sin City, Dmitri Sevastyan finds her, Victoria Valentine—sexy, vulnerable, and in need of a protector. Obsession takes root deep inside him. Despite a history tainted with violation and betrayal, he will stop at nothing to possess her.
A grifter with nothing to lose . . . Descended from a long line of con artists, twenty-four-year-old Victoria, a.k.a. Vice, needs the score of a lifetime to keep her loved ones safe. She sets her sights on gorgeous and rich Dmitri Sevastyan. Even as the irresistible Russian toys with her body and mind, he tempts her heart.
Love is the ultimate wild card. When Vice and her associates maneuver Dmitri into a hasty Vegas wedding, he refuses to protect himself with a prenup, trusting her with all that he has. But can she trust him? As secrets unfold, the newlyweds share days of doubts and nights of the wickedest pleasures. Yet once Vice discovers her husband's past, will she stay to fight for her marriage or cut her losses and run?
Dmitri Sevastyan is a playboy billionaire to give all the rest a run for their money. In the long-awaited final book in her Game Maker trilogy, Kresley Cole offers up an alpha hero who’s fully obsessive and possessive, and all those hints of darkness in him that we’ve had a peek into are finally revealed. But even more than a world that flashes opulence, from the dazzle of Vegas to the stuff of fairy tales, this is a cat-and-mouse game with a sinful billionaire, a con artist princess, and con stacked upon con guaranteed to keep you guessing until the end.
Best of all, for a hero so gorgeous, so sexy, so built up through the course of the series, Cole created the perfect heroine. Victoria “Vice” Valentine has the weight of her family’s future on her shoulders. She hails from a long line of well-established and highly crafty con artists, but this time they’re in too deep, with a bounty on their heads. If they don’t pay up, they’ll pay with their lives. In walks Dmitri, and Vice makes him her mark.
It’s insta-something for them both and fitting for the high rollers life they lead, Dmitri and Vice don’t do anything in half measures. It’s hot and heavy fast — a hand job here, a blow job there, frenetic and crazy and chemistry-laden in a way that drives the romance, each encounter ramping them both up.
Cold-as-Ice Vice was feeling very, very hot. I peered up at him, as if I could find the answer in his expression. His eyes really were glorious. This close, I could see his amber pupils were awash with brighter flecks; they made his eyes gleam gold.
I could get lost in them. If he were a grifter, he’d be a thrall, the type of con artist whose sex appeal was so strong he or she could manipulate a mark’s behavior with just a look.
He eased in even closer, raising a hand to brush his knuckles over my jawline, then a cheekbone. “So incredibly beautiful, moy ángel.”
Was this billionaire going to kiss me? I murmured, “You’re a player, aren’t you?”
Still caressing my face, he said, “Give me your definition of ‘player.’”
“A guy who finds women interchangeable, and goes through a lot of them. He plays games with their heads.” The only thing worse than a player? A tourist player.
Dmitri lowered his hand to curl his forefinger under my chin. “There are two things you should know about me, Victoria. One, I will play games with you.”
Warmth flooded my body, centering between my thighs. I swallowed. “What’s the other thing, big guy?”
He palmed the back of my head, drawing me close. Yet then he hesitated, as if relishing that he was about to kiss me. “You will like my games.”
SEE ALSO: Kresley Cole’s The Master Review
There’s something potent there for sure. They’re a match for each other, and what becomes clear is, it’s no act. And because it’s Vegas and the stakes are all there, the con reaches a new plateau quickly: marriage. Soon it all seems too good to be true — a common theme throughout — as the money that Victoria needs starts coming in while at the same time, she finds herself really enjoying all of the discovered nuances of her new husband. We’re in her head, which makes her relatable to us, that despite the shady beginnings, her feelings are anything but black and white. As for Dmitri, he makes his bold feelings known with bravado.
“You and your changes.”
“I needed to be ready when my dream woman came into my life.”
Smile never faltering, I said, “Can you really call me your dream woman when you hardly know me?”
“I know plenty, Victoria.”
I raised my brows. “Like what?”
“I have to pace you during oral sex, or else you come too fast. When you truly open your heart to another, you do so for life, and you’re loyal to a fault. You’re patient. You’re protective. You’re secretive. But I know you’ll share all your secrets if I share mine. Your zest for life is boundless. And when your blue eyes brighten with happiness, I feel as if I’ve been drugged. To a man like me, you are a drug.”
My lips parted.
Then I gazed away, thinking about my past. I could see now I hadn’t truly opened myself up to Brett. If I had, I wouldn’t be this over him. I knew I’d never receive another e-mail from him, and the only emotion I felt was regret that he’d been hurt.
Maybe I’d tried to force that relationship because I’d been so enamored with normal. Maybe I’d held back my heart because deep down I’d known I was meant for a grifter.
So where did that leave me now? I was married to a gull, living the most abnormal existence I could imagine. “Wouldn’t your dream woman be heavy into BDSM?” I asked. “To match you?”
“Oh, you will be.”
And there’s something about this possessive, alpha male hero. It’s why we fall into the fantasy of romance. In Dmitri’s case, he backs it all up. But what makes it hot is that he does it for the woman who’s possessed him. She has latent exhibitionist desires she never realized, and he fulfills them, for her. He’s generous and loving and does nothing halfway, and it’s all very heady. The other big thing, of course, is the secrets that are bubbling beneath: her lies and his mystery. It would spoil it to say more, but con artistry is the name of the game and in this world nothing is expected, there are no predictable outs, and Cole doesn’t disappoint on any count.
What we know for sure is that this is a niche where Cole has a hell of a lot of fun, and if we’re as lucky as Dmitri and Victoria, Cole will make a home for herself in the fast-paced world of erotic contemporary.
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Tiffany Tyer is a writer and editor who loves reading and analyzing all things romance. She also works as a vocalist, a tutor, and a non-profit ministry assistant, and she loves it that way. Her book reviews can be found at Happy Endings Reviews, a blog she co-founded.