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Take Me, Take Me With You    by Lauren Kelly order for
Take Me, Take Me With You
by Lauren Kelly
Order:  USA  Can
Ecco, 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Shannon Bigham

A best-selling author (writing under the pseudonym Lauren Kelly) weaves a taut, suspenseful ride in Take Me, Take Me With You. This suspense novel explores issues of family secrets, domestic violence, erotic love and kinship. Graduate student Lara Quade works at Princeton University's prominent research center, the Institute for Semiotics, Aesthetics and Cultural Research. Lara, a disaffected scholar of esoteric subjects such as automata, compiles research, for the esteemed director of the center, on the history of early clockwork mechanisms and antique, robot-like dolls. Lara's work is her life although her boss rarely recognizes her efforts. Lara's hope is that the director will extend her two-year research grant, as she has no idea what else to do with her life, outside of her current existence at Princeton.

Lara lives a quiet, isolated existence for good reason. She and her brother Ryan grew up in an abusive home in Lake Shaheen, New York with alcoholic parents who fought constantly. Their mother was often subject to physical abuse by their father, who eventually abandoned his wife and children to live with another woman. Alone with their mother, Lara and her brother either faced her drunken wrath or suffered from neglect due to her excessive drinking. The legacy of a childhood accident, which left Lara with numerous scars on her face and body, causes her to retreat further into her solemn, quiet existence at Princeton and to never look back to her past. She lives alone in a small apartment with no room in her life for friends, family, or relationships with men.

Lara's preference to stay under the radar and maintain a hard-working, even-keeled schedule is interrupted one day when she receives an anonymous invitation in the mail. This leads to a seemingly chance meeting with a mysterious, intense man named Zedrick Dewe. Their encounter turns into an intense, erotic experience. But it goes badly and Lara's initial interest in Zedrick morphs into fear. While Lara wants to separate herself from Zedrick and anything remotely connected to him, he has other plans, and their connection to each other is revealed through a series of shocking events.

It's well written and delivered with a depth and intensity that is unusual for suspense novels in today's market. Several twists in the plot add to the excitement and dramatic tone. The author superbly portrays Lara as a complex and conflicted young woman, who feels an undeniable pull towards her troubled past, but wants to remain in the present. Zedrick is an equally interesting, if somewhat bizarre and perverse character; his actions keep the reader guessing as to what he wants from Lara. I highly recommend Take Me, Take Me With You to anyone who enjoys reading about intense characters grappling with how their pasts have shaped their present lives. I will be looking out for upcoming novels by this new author.

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