I enjoy Nikki Gemmell’s books. Recently I read With My Body, which focused on a married woman, whose sex life with her husband was passionless and nearly non-existent, recalling a sexual relationship between her at seventeen and an older author. Controversial subject matter, yes, but I was captivated from the start.
And I enjoyed I Take You … at first.
Connie is a thirty-something married woman whose designer labels and affluent lifestyle are a poor camouflage for what’s missing in her life. Her husband, Cliff, suffered a skiing injury that affected him sexually, but rather than sound the death knell to their sex life, it springs them open to experience exotic, erotic exhibitionism together. Connie feels wanton in a way she never did when she shared traditional sex with her husband.
But then something happens. Does Cliff go too far, perhaps? Does Connie realize that this new direction is not as fulfilling as she wants and needs? Does she begin to see that, much as she does as the society wife of the wealthy banker, she has been performing a role she no longer wishes to play?
Whatever the impetus, Connie feels a magnetic sexual pull toward her gardener, a man trying to overcome the end of his marriage. Mel is alternately repelled and aroused by her, and what begins as a sexual lark becomes something different.
The story here is intriguing. Connie keeps trying to force herself to be something that she soon discovers she does not want to be. First as Cliff’s wife, then as his property. She tries to be submissive, she tries to be what he wants, but she just can’t. When she meets Mel, she finds a man who only wants her to be what she wants to be, and it unsettles her. Can she? Or is does she, in fact, prefer pretending to be something?
Unfortunately, there are some developmental issues. For one, we never really understand what drew Connie to Cliff in the first place. He’s American and full of confidence, and he certainly can provide for her in opulent style. But Gemmell fails to establish who Connie was before she married Cliff. Perhaps that’s the point: Connie never knew herself, which made her more malleable. Perhaps she needed a Cliff in her life to tell her what to be.
But what snaps her out of it? That’s another point that is left too ambiguous. The act that seems to propel her away from Cliff is something she acquiesced to, so why the recoil later? Granted, Cliff is as unpleasant a spouse as you’ll find. But he was unpleasant before his accident, and he was unpleasant before Connie’s break.
Then there is Mel. He tells Connie that he needs to learn to love again, and he thinks she’s the one to show him how. Um, Mel? Here’s a newsflash: she isn’t. She doesn’t know how to love, either. Neither Mel nor Connie seem to realize this, though, so I guess I should just shut up and read. At one moment, Mel is repulsed by Connie and her apparent entitlement; but at another, he can’t wait to get naked with her.
The sex scenes are hot, especially those at the beginning. The problem is that the characters are not.