Author: Nikki Gemmell
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Date of Publication: December 31, 2013
How I Heard About It: I've previously reviewed other work by this author, "With My Body." I'm reviewing "I Take You" as part of the book's extended tour, hosted by TLC Book Tours. Thank you to the publisher for the review copy!
Two Sentence Summary: After Connie's husband is severely injured in a skiing accident, their relationship (particularly it's treatment of intimacy) becomes increasingly... experimental? Thrilling at first, Connie and Cliff's sexual escapades gain a somewhat alarming momentum and Connie starts to question her role as object, play thing, prop.
"I want to think quietly, calmly, spaciously, never to be interrupted, never to have to rise from my chair, to slip easily from one thing to another, without any sense of hostility, or obstacle. I want to sink deeper and deeper, away from the surface, with its hard desperate facts."
A key component of the author's works I've read has always been female sexuality; discovery of, exploration of, deviation from... "I Take You" is certainly no different in this regard, but pushes the envelope much further in terms of eroticism. At times making direct reference to "The Story of O" and the more mainstream "Fifty Shades of Gray," "I Take You" holds absolutely nothing back in terms of the erotic (much like its characters).
Making this book different than its predecessors ("The Bride Stripped Bare" and "With My Body") is the distinctly dark nature of the married couple's eroticism. An opening scene of marital experimentation involves a "surgical" process that truly turns Connie into property of her husband, an inadvertent sacrifice of bodily control at the husband's directive (and for the entertainment of others). The overly of the horrific with the sensual is certainly riveting and disturbing, as is the reader's difficulty to connect with our protagonist's thoughts on the matter. Connie's feelings vacillate rapidly and are relatively unclear from moment to moment; it's unsettling, in that we are driven to react with as much reticence and confusion as the character.
My concern with this narrative is a concern I experience with many "sexual liberation" tales - Gemmell's characters seem, over the course of the three books I've mentioned, to consistently rely exclusively on men to teach them how to utilize and appreciate their bodies and their lives. While this is an occurrence that can be based in reality, the fact that it is so heavily present time and time again in Gemmell's novels began to feel redundant in "I Take You." I found myself yearning for just one sturdy, take-charge female to break up the pattern a bit.