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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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01/10/2006 Archived Entry: "Book review: Take Me"

Take Me
by Bella Andre
Published by Pocket Books, 2005

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

Having just finished one book featuring a plus-sized heroine (Alternate Beauty by Andrea Rains Waggener), I wasn't reluctant to start another novel with a plus-sized protagonist. Her name is Lily Ellis, an interior designer from San Francisco; she has red hair, blue eyes and abundant curves. Unlike Ronnie Tremayne, the heroine of "Alternate Beauty", Lily is a mere size sixteen, which makes her too fat for the average American, but the perfect size for Italian men, who prefer full-figured women. Italy plays a prominent role in this story, especially Tuscany, where the man of Lily's dreams, the gorgeous blonde architect Travis Carson, takes her on a buying trip to furnish a house he just built.

How does Lily go from San Francisco to Tuscany? Well, first she agrees to help out her kid sister Janica, the fashion designer, who's having her first showing and needs a plus-sized model for the beautiful plus-sized dress she created, after the original model gets sick. Lily is the nervous type, and she's also best friends with Travis' more compassionate twin brother Luke, so she calls Luke to come to the show and sit in the audience where she can see him to give her moral support. Unfortunately, Luke Carson is a talented surgeon who's always on call, and he gets Lily's call after he gets a page from the emergency room. He can't blow off a medical emergency, but he can't let a friend down either, so he convinces his reluctant twin brother to go to the fashion show in his place and sit close enough to the stage to let Lily think it's him. Ol' Travis is a playboy who's been ignoring Lily since they were kids growing up in the same neighborhood. He prefers skinny blonde model types to Lily's lush curves, but to please his brother he goes to the show, hoping to nail one of the models afterwards.

But when he sees Lily sashaying down the runway wearing the fabulous dress Janica designed, along with a mask that turns her into a Woman of Mystery, he falls for her -- hard. They end up hooking up together at the after party, from there he takes her to his apartment and things began to get delightfully hot. WARNING: This book contains explicit sex and language, making it definitely for adults only! At times it gets extremely graphic, especially after Lily and Travis go to Tuscany together and end up sharing the same hotel room. There's a sex scene involving a hot tub and a vibrator that's definitely not for the squeamish. Ditto for the Making Up After The First Fight scene, when Travis brings her a container of chocolate gelato as part of his apology, and the sweet stuff is used to add flavor to their lovemaking, especially on their naughty bits. If you like your romances hot and spicy, this is definitely the book for you, especially if you're a woman bigger than size twelve who's been brainwashed into believing that nobody over size ten can ever be loved by a man.

"Take Me" isn't all sweetness and light. There are rough parts, especially the catty comments some of Travis' friends make when they find out about his romance with the oversized Lily. There were also times when Lily's lack of self-confidence made me so impatient that I wanted to smack her; just when things are going good between her and Travis, she starts wondering if he really loves her or if he's just having fun with the fat girl. She's so accustomed to being mocked and/or rejected, she just can't see how beautiful she really is. But there is a feistiness hidden beneath Lily's meek exterior; she even has a passing thought about her and Luke seeing the latest movie with Queen Latifah after the fashion show, because she loves any actress with a full figure; it proves that other women have curves too. And so we do; there happens to be an indie movie about a determined Latina lass called "Real Women Have Curves" that I'm sure Lily would also like. By a strange coincidence, there's also a new movie starring Queen Latifah called "Last Holiday", about a timid cookware salesperson who finds out she has a fatal disease and only one week to live, so she decides to go out with a bang; quitting her boring job after telling off her arrogant boss, borrowing a hefty sum of money from the bank that she knows she'll never live long enough to pay back in order to go on vacation to a swanky resort, where she treats herself to a new wardrobe, eats as much as she wants and goes skiing for the first time... but I digress.

To sum it up, "Take Me" is strong medicine for any oversized woman who's unsure of her wow power. It's liable to provoke a negative reaction among romance fans who are accustomed to willowy heroines who take their beauty for granted. Having confidence in yourself as an attractive woman who deserves love can be as empowering as the most potent aphrodisiac. Lily gains confidence in leaps and bounds as she goes leaping and bounding through the Tuscan countryside with Travis, fulfilling all her romantic fantasies, satisfying her physical and sexual appetites in a way that leaves Travis and the reader begging for more.

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