"Take Me If You Can," Karen Kendall

Pros: Interesting storyline; unusual setup; snappy dialogue
Cons: Tough to buy into some character actions; plot weaknesses
Rating: 3 out of 5

Review copy courtesy of Penguin Group.
Visit Karen Kendall’s site.

 

Avy Hunt is an art recovery agent. The majority owner of her firm is a mysterious and never-seen man named Kelso (shades of ‘Charlie’s Angels’), and she spends her days & nights stealing back stolen art on behalf of insurance companies. The employees of her firm might as well be secret agents, with fake passports and identities, disguises, and the works.

Avy’s latest assignment is Sir Liam James, master thief. Or rather, the Sword of Alexander, a priceless artifact he’s stolen. Before she can even track him down, however, he’s following her. It takes little time at all for the two skilled and snarky thieves to fall for each other as they continually try to outwit each other in a game that could have much higher stakes than Avy imagines.

 

The concept of the art recovery agency is fun, and the brief opening job of Avy’s is quite enjoyable to follow along. However, given the manner in which these folks casually do things like take international flights while in disguises that could be sussed out during a simple pat-down (e.g., a fat-suit), it’s amazing that today’s heightened airport security with its random searches hasn’t caused them all to get arrested yet. Airport security measures are in the news so much these days that it’s just tough to believe that these folks casually do this sort of thing on a regular basis.

The never-seen Kelso is an interesting mystery, but he tends to come a tad close to being used as a deus ex machina, which feels a bit too tidy and overly-coincidental.

While I did enjoy many of Avy & Liam’s snarky interactions and sexy bedroom scenes (adults only, naturally), some also annoyed me a bit as well. Avy came across as rather whiny whenever Liam outwitted her, and she let him push her around rather more than was believable at first, particularly given some of her background details. Also, while I don’t want to go into too many details so as to avoid ending spoilers, some of her choices at the end also didn’t sit right with me. I ended up feeling that Avy was acting out of character in order to suit the author’s plans for the story at various points.

There was also a plot point that bothered me. There are details about what’s going on that Liam never tells Avy, and that omission results in several near-disasters. He does explain why he never told her, of course, but I couldn’t quite buy it. It seemed as though on all levels, it would have made far more sense to everyone involved to bring her in on what was going on—except that, again, it would ruin the author’s plot.

Ultimately, I enjoyed the entertaining side-plot regarding a ‘test’ of one of Avy’s co-workers more than the main plot. In order to prove herself, Gwen has to steal an aging rock star’s pet dog and then return the dog just as she found it. The rock star is such a cantankerous and outrageous character—and Gwen’s experiences with the dog so amusing—that it turns out to be a terribly fun caper.

I definitely enjoyed this book while I was reading it, but it’s one of those books that doesn’t hold together very well afterwards. Once the feeling of being sucked into the pages, which are populated with some fascinating people and wonderful scenes, is gone, it’s all too easy to notice the myriad of little details that don’t entirely make sense.

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