Take Me Tonight
Sometimes silly, sometimes serious, Take Me Tonight is a fun book that is happily more hit than miss.
Sage Valentine is an investigative reporter living in Boston. Her roommate Keisha was found dead, supposedly from suicide, but Sage doesn’t believe it, suspecting instead that her death was connected to her participation on a Web site that arranges for kidnappings of willing young women needing a thrill, complete with a rescue by a handsome man. How the women thank their rescuers is entirely up to them, but the kidnappings cost a lot of money for a good reason.
Sage asks for help from her estranged Aunt Lucy, who runs the Bullet Catcher security agency. Lucy tells her that there is no mystery, but Sage isn’t willing to accept that answer. She takes matters into her own hands by signing up for her own kidnapping.
Johnny is a Bullet Catcher bodyguard, and he’s been sent by Lucy to protect Sage from actually participating in any of those daring kidnapping adventures and to make sure she doesn’t get into trouble. He has no choice but to pretend to be the rescuer himself, and if that means he has to also play the part of an assumed male prostitute, then that’s no hardship for him. Especially since Sage is willing to play the part of the kidnap victim with such enthusiasm.
The whole idea may seem seriously silly, and it is. But the author seems to slyly acknowledge this through the sarcastic wit of her characters, and that makes it fun instead of absurd. This is especially evident in the scene during which the main characters meet; Sage pretends to be a willing abductee and wonders how far she should go to discover information while Johnny pretends to be a willing kidnapper and wonders how far he should go to keep his cover. Sure, they both go farther than any normal person would have, but the unpredictability is one reason why I liked this book.
There is an odd mix of concepts such as the Web site, mentions of the CIA, the Mafia, and other creepy characters. For me, this combination worked surprisingly well since scenes with over-the-top ridiculousness are balanced with moments that weigh more heavily. Serious moments are injected when it comes to the issues of Sage’s dead roommate or the losses she and Johnny have suffered in their lives. As the story moves along, the mystery kept me guessing and actually picked up steam, so the book never drags.
Sage and Johnny are both fantastic characters – smart and sexy with their own specific vulnerabilities and they generate a lot of heat together. Their chemistry is delicious and the way in which they banter, particularly when they first meet, makes for great fun. The development of their relationship is strong, beginning with their sincere attraction to each other, and then later when they become frustrated when their relationship has stalled because they’re not being honest with each other.
With subplots related to Johnny’s Mafia family members and Sage’s estrangement with her aunt, there was more than enough to keep my interest. It perhaps felt a little crowded at times and there are definitely holes in the somewhat wild plot, but all in all, it was entertaining and touching at just the right moments.