Take What You Want, by Jeanette Grey

>> Thursday, September 05, 2013

TITLE: Take What You Want
AUTHOR: Jeanette Grey

PAGES: 113

SETTING: Contemporary
TYPE: New Adult

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.
Ellen Price is in her last year of college. She dreams of going to medical school after that, so she spends all her time and energy on study. And then comes spring break. Her friends are all going off on a holiday she can't afford, so she decides that, since she's staying home, what she'll do is take a holiday from her usual serious, responsible self.

Ellen's plan is simply to dress up in sexy clothes (her serious attitude extends to her clothing) and pick up a stranger in a bar. The thing is, the stranger she ends up going for isn't actually a stranger. Josh Markley is actually in her pre-med class, and he's had his eye on Ellen for a while. Ellen doesn't recognise him (in addition to her being really focused when she's in class, there's the Clark Kent device of Josh having just started to wear contact lenses), and Josh is confused when she tells him she's a waitress.

Josh assumes Ellen's just doing some sort of sexy role-playing, and doesn't correct her when she assumes he's a student somewhere else, home for spring break. But then, after an amazing night, Josh realises she really didn't recognise him. He definitely wants more than just the one night, but how does he convince her?

This was a cute story. Josh and Ellen are likeable characters, and I was rooting for them. Also, the trope of having the hero desperately feel that he must make the sex so, so good that the heroine will want more with him is one that (somewhat guiltily) really appeals to me. So I mostly enjoyed this, even while realising that it just wasn't particularly great.

Mainly, the thing was that the story was very low conflict. Josh and Ellen were angsting away, but basically, the whole thing boiled down to each thinking 'oh, I want more, but I don't if he/she does!'. There was no real reason why they wouldn't want to be together, since they got along fine, liked each other and found each other incredibly attractive, not to mention that career-wise, they were quite well suited. Of course you can never be certain, but the angst was beyond that. It felt a little contrived, to be honest, like a faux-conflict.

I thought the story had too many sex scenes for such a short book. After the first few, they felt gratuitous. I would have preferred it if some of them had been replaced by Josh and Ellen actually talking and getting to know each other out of the sack. There was a bit of that, and it did seem that they were a good fit, but not enough, definitely not enough to be exchanging 'I love you's at the end.

Also, Josh was lovely, but he felt a bit too good to be true and his character didn't make complete sense. He's handsome, nice, sensible, good career prospects, and even amazing in bed, although it's never really explained how he got that way. There's no reason given why he wouldn't have a regular, health self-esteem, and yet he's spent 3 years obsessing over Ellen, not approaching her even though there was absolutely no reason not to, even if just to say hello and pretend to ask her something about the class. It felt contrived.

I did like the conflict about Josh's career plans. His father is a doctor and his heart is set on Josh being one as well, but he has come to realise he doesn't want to do that. He's got other plans, and he's very nervous about broaching the subject, and about his father's reaction. The thing is, again, it felt like much angst about not much at all. He acts like he's about to drop out of college, but actually, what he wants to do is in no way controversial and only a completely unreasonable asshole (which his father clearly isn't) would have major issues with it.

I realise I've been moaning for the last few paragraphs, but all these things weren't major irritants, and certainly didn't ruin my enjoyment of the book completely, just dampened it.



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