Take me There – Julie Cannon (Review)

51LLeTSHisL._SY346_Sloan and Adrienne used to have a passionate relationship. But that was years ago, and their lives have diverged radically. Sloan poured all of her energy into her legal career and a string of meaningless flings; Adrienne went to art school, got married, had a child.

When Adrienne, now widowed, faces Sloan across the conference table, it brings up a lot of buried feelings. She and Sloan have to navigate a complicated business deal while also dealing with their complicated past and intense attraction to each other.

The first thing to say, because it’s one of the first things you notice, is that the book is relatively steamy, with a lot of front-loaded sex scenes. If that’s something you don’t care for, this would be one to miss. Interestingly, the sex isn’t between the main couple, who don’t even touch for quite some time. Instead, the main romance is punctuated with sex scenes between two other women.

It’s a slightly bizarre framing device to be honest. The impression I get is that the author wanted a slow burn romance, but also didn’t want readers to feel that it was taking too long. The other couple are relevant to the plot, but their romantic scenes generally aren’t necessary for the story. It slows down the narrative quite a bit, and I kept on expecting it to tie in. It doesn’t, really. The scenes are simply there to entertain anyone who finds the main story too slow.

Perhaps as a result of the odd story-splicing, Take Me There feels a little under-developed. The main plot does start slow, but then it wraps up quite fast; the opening suggests a long, complex, even angsty, courtship, but the ending is a little too quick and neat.

That’s not to say that Take Me There is bad. It’s well-written with an engrossing concept. The book also gets points for an interesting main couple – the hyper-focused lawyer and guarded single mother are both romance standards, but playing them against each other with the bonus of a messy past relationship is a good choice. It combines lots of fun romance ideas into something quite new.

Take Me There should also be praised for the realism of characters and relationships. Families and bosses and exes all interact believably, showing that they have other concerns than the main plot. Adrienne doesn’t just fall into Sloan’s arms – she agonises over her priorities and over her vows to her dead wife. Complexity in romantic relationships is always a good thing – it adds depth to the stories and it’s a lot easier to care about characters who feel like real people.

In all, Take Me There is a perfectly competent romance. It’s got likable protagonists, a clear central conflict, and a satisfying conclusion. It could be more developed, and have more focus on the main plot rather than additional titillation, but the core of the story and the characterisation make it worth reading.

Buy it here.

In the interests of transparency, I should mention that I received a free copy of this book through Netgalley.

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