Books that create a balance between the familiar and the surprising often rocket to the top of my recommendation list. If a story makes me feel like I have my footing in its world, but also keeps me rapidly turning pages - that book has my allegiance. Take Me Home Tonight is that sort of book and I was delighted to read it.
The third in Erika Kelly’s Rock Star Romance series, Take Me Home Tonight is the story of Mimi and Calix, an aspiring chef and a session musician thrown together through Blue Fire, the band readers met in the first two books. Calix is the band's temporary keyboardist and Mimi works as their personal cook while she sorts out the rest of her life. The chemistry between the two is immediate, but their intimacy builds with a worth the wait sensuous slow burn.
Take Me Home Tonight is mysterious without being frustrating, sweet without being saccharine, family-oriented without being schmaltzy. The heroine is self-assured and in need of her own journey. The hero is a quiet Alpha with Beta tendencies. Also, it’s sexy as all get out. Kindle-meltingly sexy.
I hadn’t encountered this series before this book and it took a few pages to orient myself, but Kelly’s writing made everything I didn’t understand not feel overwhelming, but instead intentionally mysterious. Her characters are fully-formed people who disclose things to the reader and to each other at their own pace.
Calix is the type of fella who carries everyone else’s burdens for them, whether they ask him to or not. He is deeply devoted to his family who is still struggling to move past a terrible tragedy that occurred three years ago. This tragedy has left the family essentially fossilized. Mimi, of course, is the catalyst who helps them breaks free.
Mimi is a contestant on a Chopped-esque show. Though her father is a famous Italian restaurateur in NYC, Mimi has no classical training in cooking. Instead, she draws from the lessons she learned in her family’s kitchen. Mimi's being on a reality TV show disgusts her father who is convinced she is going to shame the family name or some other such nonsense. Mimi, though, is determined to succeed. She ends up getting lessons from Calix and Jo, his mother. Their conversations about food and how, on a chemical level, it works are some of my favorite parts of the book.
Calix and Mimi are well suited. Both are passionate, stubborn, caring, kind, full of fire, and sexy as hell, making their pairing one for the ages. I’m not trying to be demure, but their sexual chemistry is completely tied to their emotional vulnerability and I refuse to disclose anything about that. Readers deserve the same treat I had - to let Kelly reveal the two of them at her pace. Trust me, when these two finally shed the clothes and the bullshit, holy Christ on a Ritz Cracker is it worth the wait.
There are a lot of plates spinning in this story and Kelly manages to not only keep track of them all, but makes them converge in a realistic way. For example, there’s this whole thing with Calix’s brother’s and the very sketchy girl he hooks up with. (This girl is Trouble in River City trouble and a groupie to her core. I want her to get therapy and several STD tests, and then stay far away from Blue Fire forever and ever amen.) She’d made several appearances in a Chekov’s gun kind of way, so we knew who she was, but I thought for sure she was just a side incident and not significant. I was wonderfully wrong.
I recommend this book for fans of contemporary romance with healthy doses of sass. If you like Lauren Dane, for instance, I think this book would be right up your alley. Anyone who hates reading about complicated people should steer clear, as all these folks are so authentically human they nearly walk off the page. But if you like books where real people have real problems and find real love (while having really hot sex)? Pick up Take Me Home Tonight and enjoy the ride.
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