This RITA® Reader Challenge 2014 review was written by Aimee M. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Romance Novella category.
She needs an escape…and he’s exactly what she had in mind.
College senior Ellen Price spends every spare minute studying to get into medical school. Until spring break yawns before her, as empty as her wallet.
With no money to hit the beach, she fills her empty to-do list with a plan: for just one week, she will become the kind of take-no-prisoners woman she secretly wishes to be, starting with the hot guy at the bar. It’s a no-risk situation: at the end of break, he’ll head back to his campus, and she’ll go back to hers. No muss, no fuss.
At first, Josh Markley isn’t sure what to think when the quiet, intense beauty from his pre-med classes approaches him for a night of casual sex. Even more mystifying, she doesn’t seem to return his recognition. But if she wants to play “strangers in a bar”, he’s game.
Their passionate night is a welcome respite from life’s stress, but afterward, Josh realizes he wants more—from himself, from life, from Ellen. Except she still thinks he’s a one-off she’ll never see again. Confessing the truth now—before she figures it out on her own—could shatter the fragile beginnings of just what the doctor ordered. A forever love.
Here is Aimee M.'s review:
Take What You Want by Jeanette Grey is a pleasant, steamy way to spend a few hours. Novellas have the hard job of making an instant connection between a hero and a heroine believable in a very short amount of time. I find successful novellas entirely enjoyable and far more satisfying than spending the same .99 cents on a candy bar. Take What You Want falls into the enjoyable, candy bar book category.
The opening pages jump right into the action with our leading lady, Ellen, sizing up our leading man, Josh. Ellen is a senior in college looking for a hot one night stand. It is spring break and she has had to stay on campus while all her friends have left for a vacation. She chooses not to go because she can't spend money on a vacation when she needs it for school. She works part time as a waitress to make ends meet, determined to finish her pre-med track and head off to medical school in the fall. Bogged down by all this seriousness, she decides to take a different kind of vacation. For one week she will step away from her sober, shy self and become a take charge, daring woman. Her first, brazen act will be to proposition the hot guy across the bar.
The hot guy across the bar is Josh. He is also a pre-med student at Ellen's college. He is very aware of who Ellen is as she comes on to him at the bar. He has admired her since their freshman year, but has never approached her because of her remoteness. Ellen, as part of her vacation from self, tells him nothing about her student life and answers his questions with half truths. Josh, surprised she doesn't recognize him but unwilling to pass up the opportunity with the girl he has always admired form a distance, avoids revealing the truth about their shared situations. He presents himself as the temporary opportunity she wants him to be. Ellen takes Josh home for the sexy encounter she was looking for.
The sex in this novella is frequent and varied. If you are the type of reader who likes their sex scenes couched in flowery euphemisms, this is not the book for you. While never straying to the erotic category, I found the sex and the language used by the characters refreshingly adult. (I say refreshingly because my reading tastes normally live in historical regency land where nothing is referred to so straight forwardly.) Their sexual activities are varied, steamy, and again, there is a lot of it. There is a sex scene at least every twenty pages in this 92-page novella.
I liked these two characters. Ellen was nicely formed, especially considering the length of Take What You Want. I never had to waive my willing suspension of disbelief wand with her. Josh's character did require some slight waving of that wand. I thought the idea that the very intelligent Ellen doesn't recognize her classmate was mostly believable when Josh described Ellen as reserved and removed from the people in their classes. However, the author then had to go and further explain how Ellen didn't recognize Josh with a sort of Clark Kent has glasses and Superman doesn't situation. When Ellen meets Josh he is trying out contact lenses for the very first time. I thought this was a bit hokey but since I was already pleasantly caught up with them I moved on. Josh's character has also been forced by his parents to live at home while he attends college so we get a fair amount of interaction between him and his parents in the book. This gave rise to the other slight issue I had with Josh's character. He comes off as very self possessed and capable when with Ellen. His character then seemed to revert and get slightly younger when he interacted with his parents. There was a disparity there that kept the work from the heights of awesomeness for me.
Lastly, the element of the novella that places it firmly in the “B” category for me is that there is basically no conflict in this book. The characters start their relationship in half truths and evasions, so those are the only things holding them back when they later realize they want a deeper commitment. It is one of those romance novel tropes where everything can be solved by a conversation the characters just kept putting off. Though this “conflict” would definitely not work in a full length story, it works here because of the novella's length. Also, the lack of conflict didn't sink the book because the difficulties to overcome are sufficiently explained. Though they both willfully mislead the other, it's not with devious intent.
I did enjoy Take What You Like. Josh's prior interest in Ellen made the connection believable between them. They both act sensibly throughout. The characters are pleasant and I cared about how they were going to work it out. Though it never soars to romance book tingles, it is a novella that does its job. If you are in the mood for something light and fast, I'd pick this “candy bar book” to enjoy.
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Take What You Want by Jeanette Grey
March 12, 2013