Our premise is that Natalie is lovely, smart, seriously hardworking, and a bit disdainful of men. She juggles three part time jobs while working on a PhD (so not just disdainful of men, no time for them either). She also has been searching for her biological father, wanting to know more about her birth family. Then on a night at the bar while entertaining her lady friends by "manlyzing" the patrons she meets a man she doesn't have an almost instant scathing analysis of (though part of this might have something to do with maturity level in what seems to be a college bar).
Sevastyan is a serious bad-ass (and of course, gorgeous), like Vinnie Jones only blindingly gorgeous (sorry Vinnie). He is sure of himself, not a drunken frat boy, and all around gives off "amazing fuck" vibes. He is definitely interested in Natalie, but something about it makes him angry. As we soon find out he is (among other things) her father's right hand man, he has been shadowing her for a month, she is a Russkaya Mafiya 'princess', and to protect her from a dangerous power play is dragged to Russia. Also, he's a bit into BDSM and has some serious reservations about dominating his boss' daughter. He also views his boss like a father. So, it's complicated.
On the surface this book is a somewhat standard "innocent girl falls for serious bad boy," but it has managed to not completely fall victim to the trope.
Lust at First Sight
Happily, its not just lust at first sight. He was assigned to shadow her for a month (until danger forced him to reveal himself), so he got to know her, even if it was a creepy stalkerish way. In his credit, he asked to be reassigned early on when he realized he was attracted to her. On Natalie's part, she seems attracted by a good mystery in addition to his general oozing of dangerous sex. There is something on a primal level that is attracted to that, probably because it in theory ticks off both "virile" and "protector." Natalie also has some time to get nice and worked up (and then stalled) before anything happens.
The Sexpert Virgin
I like that while Natalie is a virgin (in part due to a series of unfortunate events) she is not a chaste innocent. She has some experience and knowledge, so she isn't instantly the best ever in bed for no reason whatsoever. Thank god. I hate the magically amazing troupe.
More importantly, she also knows enough to know things she's interested in (or at least curious about). Fortunately for the plot of the story, this includes some interest in sexual submission.
Point of annoyance: why does super tight vagina always mean she must be a virgin? We know that Sevastyan has seen her "arsenal" of toys, so the assumption goes that objects larger than a finger have been up inside her. A penis really isn't necessary for penetration activities. But really people, the vagina is not a gaping hole, they all have their own default snugness plus surrounding muscles. /rant
I Can't Have You So I Want You
For about the first two thirds of the book Natalie just wants, later on she learns that there are some long term consequences that she'd have to accept. However her melting panties seem not to care.
This is mostly an issue for Sevastyan. I suppose when daddy dearest is both a father figure for you and the man who you will kill for, there are going to be issues. Particularly when you want to tie his darling daughter up and make her scream for starters. I also suppose that dominating your mafiya boss' heir is also an awkward situation. He has reason to be conflicted, but then I hear that penises often don't care what the brain has to say.
Funny thing is, daddy dearest is OK with them as a couple. As long as they know there won't be the option for casual dating and seeing other people if it doesn't work out. But if they want to be married he'd be overjoyed and give them his blessing.
Cockinya, Cockinya, Cockinya, In Russian That Means...
Pardon the dirty song lyrics, but they just fit so well.
So this is part one of three, so I expect there will be some traditional penetrative sex in the later parts. Cole does a pretty decent job of writing some hot sex scenes, even if there's not traditional sex going on. Yes, the ultimate narrative goal may be mind-blowing sex for Natalie and Sevastyan, but kudos for exploring the field first.
Natalie is "unlike any woman" Sevastyan has had before. I take this to mean a few potential things:
- Sevastyan has been with a lot of obedient submissive women
- Sevastyan has been with a lot of women who weren't submissive at all who either humored him or reacted poorly
- Sevastyan has managed to not be with a smart-ass submissive before.
Now if Natalie was just into challenging Sevastyan and not sexual submission we'd have a different story. Actually, reviewing some of the text I'm thinking Sevastyan has been with a lot of women who just weren't into letting themselves be vulnerable at all considering how easily he thinks Natalie will be scared off. But after they get their jollies off he feels regretful and angsty, challenging "It made you happy, to be used by me?" Her response is "I orgasamed three times; you did once. Who's using whom, Siberian?"
Overall The Professional, Part I, made for a fun steamy read. The ending was also steamy, but that was because they were in a sauna, but Part I ends before they get down and dirty. Part II better start with some amazing sex, or an amazing reason for an epic cock block.
The only other material I've read by Kresley Cole are her YA titles, so I wasn't sure what to expect. She built some good tension, made the sex more about Tab A into Slot B, and was funny. A solid smutty third of a novel.
"My entire mind-set about the deed was evolving. Insight: if a guy I had sex with ever carved a notch into his bedpost, I'd tell him to carve one into mine too - and then go make me a fucking sammich."
Advanced Reader Copy copy courtesy of Netgalley; differences may exist between uncorrected galley text and the final edition.