Desert Isle Keeper
Take What You Want
damn day I search for Steals and Deals for AAR’s readers. Recently, Take What You Want showed up. I remembered loving it years ago so I bought it and read it again. I don’t read a lot of NA and I think good novellas are few–Take What You Want is both and, yes, I still think it’s great.
Ellen Price has had it. Her friends are all off on a tropical spring break–she couldn’t afford to go–and she’s stuck in town, working at the waitress job she balances with her premed classes. Normally, Ellen is a bit shy, focused on her studies, and rather risk averse. But, tonight, she’s going to change it up.
For one week—one blessed week—she’d be someone else. With no one around to watch her flail or to remark on her strange behavior, she could do anything, be whoever she pleased. The confident woman who took what she wanted.
So, she walks into a bar, dressed in the sexiest outfit she’s ever donned, picks up a stranger, takes him home, and has the best sex of her life.
There’s just one hitch.
Josh–and there’s a reason Ellen doesn’t know this–is a fellow pre-med student and not only does he know who Ellen is, he’s had a crush on her for the past three years. When Ellen first comes on strong to Josh, he’s not sure what she’s up to. She’s got to recognize him, right? But, Ellen doesn’t seem to know who he is and when he asks her what she does, she says she’s a waitress and mentions not a word about going to school. Josh, though it makes him squirm, is so thrilled that Ellen wants to jump his bones that he doesn’t cop to going to school there either and lets Ellen believe he’s just in town for the week.
The two head back to Ellen’s where Josh makes love to Ellen with every ounce of passion and skill he has. It’s amazing–beyond superb–and Josh is determined not to be a one night stand. Ellen too can’t believe the sex they had and, even if Josh is only here for a week, she’d like to see him–and do him–again. In lesser hands this big mis might not seem viable but Grey makes it work.
Josh knows he has less than a week to win Ellen and, at some point, tell her he knows her secret. He knows making her scream in bed is not enough and it’s sure as hell not all he wants. He wants her to fall for him as he’s fallen for her, to trust him with her life, and to keep their relationship going when they are back in chem class when Spring Break ends.
Josh is the bomb. Each hour he spends with Ellen, whether it’s in the shower, or on his Harley, or lying next to her on the roof staring at millions of stars, Josh listens to Ellen, trying to understand who she is. He’s that rare thing: an almost perfect guy who doesn’t seem fake, dull, or unbelievable. He’s his physician father’s only child and, for as long as Josh can remember, his dad has pushed him to go to medical school. Josh though doesn’t want to be that kind of doctor. He wants to be the kind who has a PhD in chemistry. Watching him gird himself to come clean to both Ellen and his dad, well, I wish all young men were as clear eyed and as big-hearted as Josh.
Ellen too is lovely. It’s a joy to watch her trust in her new-found sensuality and discover that her life can give her more, much more, than she’s previously demanded. As she spends time with Josh, she pushes him to take the same chances with his father that she is with him. Their relationship develops quickly but it works because Josh and Ellen are wonderful together.
The dialogue, indeed all the prose in the book, is sharp and clever. Grey has a pen for voices–I could hear Josh and Ellen, each distinct, as the two flirted and spoke. The extra little details about their lives–how Ellen thinks about what she wears, how Josh sees his parents’ strong marriage–are crystalline. Grey packs a lot in to her pages and the book has a heft many novellas do not.
I could go on and on. The very frequent sex scenes are lovely and hot. The college town is spot on. The “we fell in love in a week” works here. The writing is crisp and clear. And, oh, the last scene in the book is flat-out fabulous. In it, Ms. Grey takes all the strands of her novel and all the hopes and dreams Josh and Ellen have and creates one of the sweetest endings I’ve read in a romance in a long time.
I loved Take What You Want. It gets an A- from me.