The Game Maker, Book #1
Heat Factor: These two are just so creative.
Character Chemistry: It. Is. So. Angsty.
Plot: Natalie is kidnapped from her bath by her heretofore unknown, sexy AF bodyguard and flown to meet her also heretofore unknown Billionaire Russian mobster father. And that’s just the first three chapters.
spent most of my time reading this book wanting to text Ingrid and Holly with about 5000 exclamation points. (They should be pleased that I restrained myself to the maybe 4-5 times I texted with very few exclamation points.) (There were some emojis though.)
Me: OMG! So this grad student is out at this bar and she’s like, “Oh hey sexy guy.” And she hits on him and thinks it’s a hard fail, but then she thinks he’s interested, but then he shuts her down and leaves. So she has a couple more shots and walks home then takes a bath and masturbates to him in the tub. BUT THEN SHE OPENS HER EYES AND HE’S STANDING IN THE BATHROOM DOORWAY!
Ingrid: BUT WHY
Me: Because he’s assigned to be her bodyguard, sent by her billionaire mafia dad that she’s never met, obviously.
So, anyway, we start off really strong with some serious “WTF AM I READING!?!” action, and it is AWESOME.
This was me every chapter:
The hero, Sevastyan, is your reasonably typical dominant, badass, taciturn, emotionally constipated, tortured soul hero. He struggles with shame about his past and about his kink (and whew boy, I thought I’d jumped into plenty of kink, but I really have to hand it to Cole – A++ for sex creativity in this one), which makes him hold himself back from Natalie. I mean, really, if you’ve read this hero, you know the drill.
What made it SO FUN was that Natalie was really self-aware. She’s this sex-positive 24-year-old virgin who hasn’t met a man she has the time of day for (probably, she later thinks, because he didn’t live in the middle of nowhere Nebraska), and she’s always been pretty risk averse. But when Sevastyan comes and forcibly takes her to her father, she’s like, “Okay, I guess I’ll jump off this bridge.” And she just keeps doing it.
FOR EXAMPLE (explicit):
Unless I was still dreaming, I was pretty sure I’d just been grinding this man’s face while deep-throating him.
Who the hell am I tonight? When Sevastyan hissed as he tucked that beautiful semihard shaft back in his pants, my traitorous mind thought: Whoever she is, I can’t wait to be her again.
And that’s the night she meets Sevastyan. Natalie is constantly checking in with herself – and her hilarious best friend who has no shame at all – to make sure that she’s happy with where she is, at least for now. And when she realizes that she’s not happy where she is, she tries to get it sorted until she has to acknowledge that when a man says he’s bad for you, believe him. So she’s fun and that component of the story is a bit of light in a sea of angst that is…the rest of the book.
Also, this book is super kinky and super sexy. It’s definitely erotic romance. Buuuuut it stays more in the fantasy side of BDSM, so be aware that, while they do have some conversations about both being into the kink, it’s not at the level that conversation really should be (though TBH, I’m not wholly sure I’ve ever read a book that completely takes on that conversation).
What do I mean, exactly? Well there’s bondage. And domination. And discipline. And S&M. And an orgy that they observe at a BDSM club in Paris before giving everybody in the orgy room a show from their own dungeon. And even that part is fun, not all serious:
“They can’t see inside,” Sevastyan assured me. “They only see a mirror, unless we push a button on the remote. And, Natalie, they’re fully aware they’re being watched.”
Then I’d just been taken to voyeur heaven. “This—is—the—tits.”
Long story short, this book is absolutely not going to be for everybody (or even a large proportion of readers), but wow does Cole know how to execute a story exceptionally well.
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