a Top Ten Romance of 2013: Take What You Want by Jeanette Grey

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Over the next two months, each week, I’ll present a book that made my Top Ten Romances for 2013. The books won’t be presented in any order and though I currently have ten on my list, I’m not limiting myself. I’m hopeful some stellar 2013 novels have yet to be released.

The first of my faves from this year is the NA (New Adult) romance Take What You Want by Jeanette Grey.

In general, the current flood of NA novels hasn’t floated my boat. It’s likely that the fact I live with four New Adults makes stories of that life-stage less appealing to me. For whatever reason, most NA novels seem overly formulaic and, despite their independent young heroines, more than faintly wedded to outdated sex roles.

I hadn’t read a NA novel I loved until I read Jeanette Grey’s Take What You Want. (You can read my in-depth review of it at Dear Author here.)

Ms. Grey’s story is a smart take on the alternate identity trope. Ellen Price, the heroine of Take What You Want, is a senior in college. She’s does everything by the book: she’s a quiet but good student, works a waitress job to pay her rent, and never misbehaves. But when all of her wealthier friends take off to the Bahamas for Spring Break, Ellen decides if she can’t go someplace new, she’ll be someone new.

New Ellen is sexy, and confident. She walks into the local bar and takes home the the hottest guy she finds. New Ellen can have hot sex with a stranger.

There’s just one hitch, however, one Ellen isn’t aware of. The guy she picks up is Josh Markley, a fellow pre-med student who’s crushed on Ellen since their freshman year. Josh goes home with Ellen and after the best sex of his (and her) life, Ellen sends him packing. New Ellen was just looking for a one-time thing. 

Josh wants more. He decides to win over new Ellen without telling her he knows old Ellen. The guy’s just got a week to win her heart and. He is, in the best way, determined.

Everything about this book works for me. Ellen and Josh are defining themselves, for the first time, as adults. For Ellen, her sense of who she wants to be is centered around being happier and more engaged in the joyful side of life. For Josh, it’s realizing that no matter how important his father’s happiness is, Josh needs to choose his own professional path. Their efforts are believable and worth cheering on. 

Ms. Grey knows her way around the bedroom (and other locales). Her love scenes are steamy, have a lovely edge of humor, and work to further the plot rather than sex up the story. The ending is lovely, sweet, and utterly apt. 

I’ve read Take What You Want several times and, each time, it brings me readerly joy. Josh and Ellen fall in love over the course of a week. I fell for this book over the course of a day. It’s a winner. I gave it an A- in March and I’d give it an A- today.

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