Title: The Master
Series: Game Maker
Author: Kresley Cole
Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books
Release Date: February 17, 2015
Reviewing: Commercial Trade edition
Reason for reading: Love Kresley Cole, and received print copy from publisher
The Short Answer
The Blurb (from Cole's website)
A need colder than Siberian winter meets an attitude hotter than the Florida sun in #1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole’s sultry new Game Maker novel.The Whole Scoop
EVERYONE FEARS THE MASTER . . .
Rich, irresistible politician/Mafiya boss Maksimilian Sevastyan prefers tall, obedient blondes to fulfill his…complicated desires. That is, until the icy Russian encounters a disobedient brunette whose exquisite little body threatens his legendary restraint.
Catarina Marín was a well-off young wife until her world fell apart. Now she’s hiding out, forced to start working as an escort in Miami. Her very first client is beyond gorgeous, but when he tells her what he plans to do to her, Cat almost walks out of the door.
IF PLEASURE IS A GAME, PLAY TO WIN
After their mind-blowing encounter burns out of control, the lovers crave more. If they escape the deadly threats surrounding them, can Maksim overcome his past–to offer Cat his future? Only then will she tempt him with what he really wants: her, all tied up with a bow.
To be honest, the whole "powerful but angsty young billionaire with BDSM inclinations meets sassy ingenue" erotic romance sub-genre is not necessarily my favorite. I don't seek it out. I've read a few here and there and liked some of them OK, but as a group... eh. They tend to either have not enough character or not enough plot, relying on the erotic scenes to bring the readers.
This one though... if you only read one "powerful but angsty young billionaire with BDSM inclinations meets sassy ingenue" erotic romance this year, it really should be this one. If you read two, maybe check the first one in the series (I haven't read it yet, but I'm gonna-- plus it's on sale as of this writing).
What really makes this story work for me is the heroine. She has a fantastic backstory, over the top and yet still believable. The way she foils the hero's every expectation and every prediction is a genuine pleasure-- she just leaves him reeling at every turn. She does nothing that she's supposed to, nothing that he wants her to do -- but she's everything he needs.
This is where I would normally pull a favorite quote -- and I love the way they banter -- but the best stuff is imbedded in the very very X-rated erotic scenes and it would make me blush too much to excerpt them here.
Speaking of the sexytimes, I will say that this is another place where the heroine shakes up expectations. She refuses to conform to Maksim's script--which is pretty much everybody's script since 50SoG came out--and I really love that (I see what you did there, Ms. Cole). She's not the tiniest bit submissive; she's much more in the mold of the hair-tossing, anachronistically feisty heroines of the old-skool historicals-- but without the TSTL temper tantrums and bad decisions. (Also, no sex-on-horseback scene... although the topic does come up. So to speak.) He totally reels her in with mind-blowing sex... but then, she does the same to him. It's just utterly fun and yet still moving and they really are just a perfect match for each other.
I don't love New Adult. I just don't. I'm 48 years old, I have a teenaged daughter, and sophomoric party-animal behavior like getting drunk and barfing is more of a turn-off than any kind of entertainment for me. There was a bit of that here, and it was a bit of a downside, but it was pretty minimal.
I also felt like Maksimilian's dominance and scariness were mostly in the blurb. He was verbally cruel to Cat at times, which generated some big-mis style conflict, but I didn't really see him as a ruthless mafiya boss. Compared to Cat's sizzle and sparkle, he was a bit flat as a character. Although I gotta say, he um, pulls his weight? as a character in the erotic scenes. Very nice.
I haven't read the first one, and I didn't find it to be a problem at all. We do get some time with the first book's couple, at their wedding, so I think fans of The Professional will be pleased about that, but I didn't feel like I was missing anything important to Maksim and Cat's story. The third brother got a bit of sequel baiting as The Most Damaged Of Them All, and Natalie's colorful party-girl BFF Jessica got some page time too. Love the girl-on-girl dialog with those three.
This book is not for anyone who is at all squeamish about explicit pillow talk, but whether you're looking for a hot erotic or a snappy fast-paced contemporary with a bit of suspense, a bit of angst, and metric ton of chemistry, you won't be disappointed.
Here's a pic of the gorgeous author and myself from RT14 in N'awlins.
Even Better Bonus:
Headphones would be a good idea here, if you're at work or have impressionable children around: