I love Kresley Cole's books. I've read the entire Immortals After Dark series and I'm impatiently awaiting its next instalment. After reading a near dozen of her books, I'm rock-solid in my conviction that Cole wouldn't disappoint.
I've read erotica for years but have never found BDSM that interesting. Given that it's become an age of mainstream erotica, thanks to the likes of Fifty Shades of Grey and the Crossfire series, it's hard to avoid. While I didn't necessarily seek out this type of stories, I wouldn't go to extreme lengths to avoid it either, especially if someone of Cole's caliber were to write it. Her books have always been stamped with her own searing brand of sexy heat that turns your blood into fire without totally incinerating you. It didn't surprise me at all when she came up with something like The Professional.
I waited until the story came out in paperback and despite the mixed reviews, with some disheartened and dismayed opinions from some serious Kresley Cole fans, I didn't allow myself to miss out on the chance to read it.
Sevastyan's character didn't deviate much from Cole's typical alpha males—he growled and grunted, seduced and spurned, laid cocky claim and contended with self-control as much as the male leads in all of her books. I love it when you find exactly the kind of thing you loved about an author's writing in their new work. If you're not a big fan of these types of guys, then this book isn't for you. Steer clear.
Natalie is also quite expected of Cole's female leads—intelligent, seemingly vulnerable, but often has a lot of spunk. She was also funny in many parts of the book. One thing I didn't quite connect with was the evolution of her sexuality.
Yes, she wasn't totally innocent.
Yes, Sevastyan was irresistible with his refined rough edges.
Yes, they were thrown together in many uncommonly exciting circumstances that friction was, as Sevastyan had said about the two of them, inevitable.
There were plenty of sparks igniting, flaring up when the heat got too much to handle, but there were parts that didn't flow as smoothly for me, such as Sevastyan's distance when he was practically kissing Natalie's feet. It was explained in the story but the justification didn't just click like a perfectly fluid mechanism. I liked them together a lot but there were many occasions where I felt as uncertain as they did about where they stood with each other and whether they even stood a chance to together.
If you've read Cole's IAD, you won't miss her incredible talent at world-building, of her perfectly cut-out pieces snugly fitting in a large, magnificent puzzle. The world she'd built about the Russian mafiya showed intricate effort as well but I'm just not so sure if she'd meant it to be larger than life (because it was) or she'd employed the same lack of restraint that made all her IAD books ones you wouldn't dare put down. Applied to the real world, it might feel a bit of a stretch to some readers, as I've seen in many reviews. Maybe I was just in the mindset of knowing that nothing Cole produced was ever going to be ordinary that the glaring glamour and guts (sometimes, literally) in this book didn't bother me as much as they did other people.
If you're looking for erotic romance that pushed boundaries (because Sevastyan isn't a white knight, and not because of some sad, sob story about the past although he's got that, too) I would recommend this. It bears Cole's well-loved wickedly funny lines that make you laugh out loud, and characters you've seen before from her and you haven't forgotten about since.
Read more reviews about it here: Goodreads - The Professional