Series: The Game Maker #3
Published by Valkyrie Press on April 12th 2016
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[box style=”rounded” border=”full”]I freakin’ love this story. You have to read The Player. Even if you haven’t read the first two books of the series, you won’t be lost. This was great story telling. I picked up the phone last night to “That was amazing!” when my friend finished.[/box]
Victoria (“Vice”) Valentine and her family have been pulling cons for three generations. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, right? Not necessarily. Fleecing greedy tourists and blackmailing cheating spouses is all part of a days work. Unfortunately, her family recently fleeced the wrong person and now the mob is breathing down their neck. They need to repay the million dollars stolen and another six million dollar penalty, or else the mob is going to take her father on a long ride into the desert.
Vice is about to up her game from fake stocks to milk-cowing a billionaire. The idea is that Vice will get him interested and worked up and then hold out until he starts plying her with expensive gifts which her family can pawn. The billionaire in her sights is the elusive Dmitri Sevastyan. It doesn’t hurt when said billionaire is stunningly gorgeous. What does concern her is the fact that if he were a grifter instead of a gull, Dmitri would be what is known as a thrall, because every time Vice is hit with Dmitri’s intense stare, she’s the one who wants to submit to his every wish. She has to keep reminding herself to keep her mind in the game before she gives up everything that Dmitri demands.
No matter how enthralling Dmitri is, he seems to be making it too easy for Vice to work the grift on him. What rabbit puts his own neck in the snare? Like her family always says “If it looks to good to be true, it is.” Vice’s grifter sense are pinging like crazy that something is not quite right about Dmitri, but her family’s desperation and her own uncontrollable desires are keeping her playing the game with the crazy Russian.
Can Vice turn her milk-cow into a long con and keep the billionaire for herself? As she tries to maneuver Dmitri up the aisle, she starts to get the feeling that this gull isn’t quite so gullible.
I freaking loved this story! This was great storytelling. The Game Maker was Kresley Cole’s first non-paranormal series, and it was an absolute winner. The Professional was well-done especially since it was originally released in three parts and each time it ended it left you tortured until the next release. Personally, I thought The Master was the sexiest of the three tales. But it is The Player that takes the prize for story.
I have to admit that I thought Dmitri would be set up with Natalie’s friend Jess. I figured her over-the-top behavior would be hiding some dark past which would mirror Dmitri’s pain and they would be perfect for each other. I was originally disappointed when I first read the synopsis and saw the information about Vice and her family being grifters and working a scam on Dmitri. We know the family’s dark past from the first two stories and we also know that Dmitri suffered the most out of the three brothers. I envisioned some evil, cold bitch playing with Dmitri, who has already been through so much. I wasn’t sure I wanted to read it, but of course, I was going to.
I should have known better. Of course it is probably pathetic to so easily accept the story of a happy family of grifters with hearts of gold and like modern-day Robin Hoods who only steal and swindle the rich, degenerates who are in Vegas to make a killing or to be unfaithful to their spouse. Kresley makes it hard for us to dislike Victoria and her family even thought they are conning, swindling and blackmailing people, because they only target bad people.
Because of Dmitri’s past, I was a little angsty reading this story because the closer Victoria and Dmitri grew, the more I stressed what would happen to poor Dmitri when he found out it was all a scam, or at least, started out that way. Would he ever trust that her feelings were real? Then I would relax because of course, Kresley Cole would have a plan and wouldn’t destroy the poor, fragile Dmitri. But then Victoria would start fretting about how Dmitri was going to react when he found out that her family was grifters and he was the gull on their scam, and then I would stress out again. You could already see his crazy flag was flying half mast for most of the story.
There’s no way I am going to tell you anymore and spoil the story for you. Just know that it is definitely worth it. Even if you haven’t read the first two, Dmitri will confess his story to Vika, as he calls her, so you won’t be lost. It is marketed as erotic but it isn’t all bondage and sex like some erotica so if that is usually a no-no for you, keep it mind it is bondage-light. It is the story here is definitely the draw.
Once again I say, “Well played, Ms. Cole. Well played!”
Beneath the thin material, I could see his triceps bulging as he white-knuckled that railing. Like Bruce Banner warding off the Hulk.
Pete had told me he’d picked up intermittent tension in Dmitri and Aleks, the oldest Sevastyan brother. Perhaps they’d fought and Dmitri was taking out his frustration on others?
If Dmitri was so angry, why not go back to his room? Why not take his fortune and fly somewhere else?
In the next second, everything I speculated got turned upside down–because Dmitri’s head tipped back, and his broad shoulders rose and fell on a breath. Even from this angle I could tell he was gazing at the full moon.
People didn’t normally do that when stewing; they did it whey they felt regret, or even longing.
A flare of pity arose. His family was right downstairs, but he remained here all by himself.
That was the thing about the beast from fairy tales; he didn’t want to be a beast. He didn’t want to be alone.
Dimitri finally released his grip to rub his temples.
Curiosity to see his face won out, so I headed toward the opposite end of the railing, letting my heels click.
He dropped his hands, and his muscles tensed even more. “How many times do I have to fucking say this?” he bit out, his accent thick. As he turned toward me, he snapped, “I–AM–NOT–GODDAMNED–INTER…” He trailed off, looking staggered.
I knew the feeling. Dmitri Sevastyan was…magnificent.
His flawless, masculine face swindled your breath and left your lungs holding the bag.
Thick black hair, chiseled cheekbones. Proud, slim nose and a rugged jaw. His eyes were blazing amber.
Beautiful, beautiful beast. I nearly reeled on my feet. I never did that, except as a ruse for pick-pocketing.
Once the angry set of his jaw eased, his lips went from thinned to oh-so-kissable. That vivid gaze of his roamed over my body from my heels to the top of my head. “You…” he breathed.
Make the talk, vice. “Me?” I knew we hadn’t met. Because his face would’ve been seared into my brain forever.
“…are stunning. The sight of you has defeated my wits.”
Huh? Guys thought I was pretty, but in the land of long-legged showgirls and surgically enhanced models, it took a lot to stand out. (I’d always told myself I would crush it in Reno.)
And what about Karin? Maybe he’d forgotten his contacts last night.
Instead of chasing me away, the beast strode over to join me. I had to crane my head up to meet his gaze. Well, hello there, big guy.
He stood so close I could feel the heat coming off his body. I caught a hint of his aftershave–evergreen and something mysterious–and I wanted to purr. No, not a hint–a hit. His scent was a drug spiking the air.
“I am Dmitri Sevastyan” he said in a deep voice. “You must tell me your name.” With way too much familiarity, he lifted that loose lock of my hair the color stark against his tanned skin.
Engagement! What if I actually could run this guy?
“I’m Victoria Valentine.” My steady tone was impressive.
“Victoryaa.” The way he drew out the end of my name, rumbling the last syllable, made my cheeks burn.
I’d never been able to control my blushing, no matter how much grief my family gave me over a tell. “It’s nice to meet you. But I believe you were about to yell at me that you weren’t goddamned interested?”
Color tinged his own cheekbones, and he dropped my hair. “The women here have been…persistent.”
“Most guys would consider that a good problem to have.”
“The women weren’t the only irritation,” he said. “I had the sense that tonight would be different in some way. I was disappointed.”
“Why?” His gaze skimmed my face, lingering on each of my features as if committing them to memory.
“People who sigh at the moon are usually filled with regret or longing.” Now that I’d snagged his attention, it was time to be elusive. “I’ll leave you to it, big guy.” I turned toward the stairs. Chase me, chase me…
Dmitri rushed to cut me off. “However, I am no longer disappointed since this curvy little blonde appeared, because in the moonlight, she looks like an angel. And I happen to be in great need of one.”