Desert Isle Keeper
I’m a big fan of Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark series, but when I stumbled across The Master a few weeks ago, I was a bit wary. Too often, I find authors have trouble changing subgenres, so it can be a risk to open up a book with a different setting—you fear simultaneously that this book could damage your opinion of a favorite author or that you could be missing out on something great by avoiding it. Luckily, I enjoyed The Master just as much as I have anything else by Ms. Cole.
The book opens with Ana-Lucía Martinez, currently known as Cat Marín, arriving at Maksimilian Sevastyan’s hotel suite. To say Lucía is currently down on her luck would be an understatement—just after she graduated high school she fell for and married a con artist, who killed her mother, stole her inheritance, and is now intent on killing her. She’s currently living in a slum, cleaning houses and going to college in Miami, but it won’t be long before she has to run to another city. When her friend Ivanna asks Lucía to fill in with Sevastyan for the night, Lucía agrees, even though she has no experience working as a call girl. Unfortunately, her awful landlord stole some of her money, so she needs the extra cash that a night with Sevastyan will provide.
Lucía’s vitality—her fiery personality and confidence—make her jump off the page immediately, turning what would have been a good book into a great one. Even though she’s taken a number of hard knocks in life, she maintains a determined belief in her own self-worth. When Sevastyan initially turns her down as she is not his “type,” Lucía refuses to take no for an answer. When he’s rude to her after their first night together, she collects his money clip as well as some bills as her “tip,” secure in the knowledge that she was worth it. She’s pretty confident he won’t call the police and she’s right. Instead of calling the cops he calls the agency back and spends an obscene amount of money to book her again. As they continue to meet, it’s clear he’s falling head-over-heels for her. Sevastyan’s own self-doubt occasionally results in boorish behavior toward Lucía but she holds him accountable for this, demanding that he treat her with respect in spite of his low opinion of her profession and his jaded eye toward women in general.
I don’t mean to convey that I didn’t like Sevastyan; it’s just that as the book is written in the first person, we’re often more in touch with Lucía’s thoughts and feelings. However, in the relationship Sevastyan is the more open one—something that is clearly a novel experience for him. Lucía, being on the run, is naturally guarded and hesitant to share personal details with her lover. Sevastyan, on the other hand, is increasingly more captivated by this lovely woman, and responds by opening up about himself. He may have moments of imperfection, but this makes him more realistic and understandable rather than less likeable.
The Master is very much a character-driven book, with most of the story taking place within the realm of Sevastyan’s hotel suite. The characters are certainly a bit larger-than-life, which is typical of Ms. Cole’s books (although, to be fair, the others involve characters who aren’t human.) As long as you can suspend disbelief and accept the unusual premise, I’m sure you’ll find The Master is a great read, full of vibrant characters and emotions.