Take Me There
by Leslie Esdaile, contemporary (2006)
Dafina, $6.99, ISBN 0-7582-1299-2


Take Me There, as most romance stories featuring a pop star hero do, follows the Mary Sue formula pretty closely. We have a heroine Karin Michaels, who's drop dead beautiful and of course in possession of all kinds of special and talented and omigosh awesomeness that only our hero and Karin's older lady colleague recognize from the get go. She is whisked to a romantic getaway that is actually supposed to be a business trip with our hero, reggae superstar Jacques Bernard Dubois, and Jacques turns out to be this sweet and sensitive guy who appreciates our heroine for not being That Kind Of Girl. But our heroine of course demurs. Oh, a hot guy wanting to feel her up? She's not That Kind Of Girl! Okay, maybe he can feel her up, but she's not That Kind Of Girl so he's better not doing anything more! Okay, a little bit more is fine but not anymore! She's not That Kind Of Girl like All The Other Girls! You get the idea, I hope.

And like all Mary Sue fanfiction of this kind that has been penned since a teenage girl sighs over the poster of a sweaty, shirtless, and airbrushed Nick Carter in all his shaved and puckered glory and decides that if she can't marry him, she'll write a story about her and Nick doing the nasty and falling in love and paste it on the Web so that everyone can admire her creativity, Take Me There is just a matter of changing the names and the jobs of the main characters. This story is that predictable.

Poor Jacques. He's made it big in the international reggae-rap scene but unfortunately he's this close to taking up real estate lessons from the guy formerly known as MC Hammer. Having lavished his friends and family members with all kinds of expensive gifts, he neglected to keep a proper set of paperwork to show the IRS so now he's really going to get squeezed in his testicles for every penny he has unless he gets his mess in order. This is where Karin, our CPA, steps in. She's new in the firm and she's only attending Jacques because it's like Working Girl only this time Gabrielle Union is in the starring role instead of Melanie Griffith: her boss is sick and she's the only one around to wait on Jacques. She has no confidence in herself but naturally, she knows what to say in the right time to earn Jacques' admiration and she clinches the job. Jacques takes her to St Lucia because all his stuff are conveniently stored there, and this story is all about what happens next between the two of them.

I have nothing against Mary Sue fantasies, let me make this clear, and on another day, I will adore Take Me There. Jacques is one-dimensionally nice and perfect but he's the Mary Sue's trophy so I don't expect him to be anything but flat like his stomach. He's sweet and he loves Karin whole-heartedly for everything she is and more. Karin is also a pretty decent character. She is a Mary Sue character in the sense that she is this special person that discovers her special gifts at timely moments but she hits off very well with Jacques and their chemistry is decent. I also adore how Karin, when she realizes how much her previous boyfriend took her for granted, gets angry at that old boyfriend because she realizes that she deserves better than the way he treated her. She deserves to be kissed and loved like a queen, damn it! I love a heroine who knows that she is worth a good man's love and Karin is an adorable heroine in this manner.

My only issue with this story, and it's a pretty big issue, is how the story has plot holes that shouldn't be there if someone - like the author, her critique buddies, or her editor - has been more careful. For example, at first Jacques takes care not to get Karin thrust into the media as his latest squeeze or something. A few chapters later, however, Romeo here is dedicating a sexy performance in his concert to Karin. A concert. Witnessed by many. Covered by the media. I have to scratch my head at that one. And then there's Karin, for example, who is concerned about how she won't be taken seriously in her profession if she's linked to Jacques as his latest squeeze. So, even after his public La Bamba to her, she's still willing to accompany him to a private business meeting at his home in St Lucia. Such behavior doesn't make sense to me. There are other instances in this story that don't make much sense to me. Because the story is built on several fundamental premises and plot twists that don't make sense to me, Take Me There requires me to suspend my disbelief one time too many.

While this story isn't exactly "Take me away! Now! Oh gosh, please!" material, it doesn't really Take Me There either.

Rating: 76


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