First Dance

First Date

I've Got You, Babe

Something About Cecily

Take Me Two Times
by Karen Kendall
(Signet, 6.99, PG-13)  ISBN 978-0-451-22662-4
A fun combination of wit, mystery, romance, and action, Take Me Two Times resurrects Gwen Davies, best friend of the heroine of the first book in the ARTemis series, Take Me If You Can.  Gwen is a newbie at the prestigious, lucrative, and highly private art recovery company - for those with the funds to keep their dirty laundry hidden.

When Avy, Gwen's friend and boss, takes a mysterious trip and leaves Gwen with the most lucrative case that ARTemis currently has on the table, Gwen is thrilled; she certainly never expected anything so high-profile for her first solo assignment. The missing piece of art is a Carnevale mask with a murderous history that reputedly was passed down from the Borgias.  Yes, those Borgias. The mask currently belongs to a local business. Unfortunately for Gwen, no one warned her that her ex-husband was the sitting CEO of the company.

Of course, since she had been impregnated by, married, and divorced Quinn Lawson in a whirlwind fifteen years before without anyone but her parents ever knowing, perhaps she shouldn't have been surprised no one knew to give her the heads-up.

Though she has to shoot a big snake to get it, Gwen quickly retrieves the mask from a warehouse belonging to a pair of thugs well known to ARTemis.  However, Gwen and Quinn are in for a rude awakening: the mask Gwen stole back was a fake. A good fake, but a fake nonetheless. Quinn loses his job, and Gwen knows her own is at stake if she can't set things straight.

Just in case retrieving a fake wasn't bad enough, Gwen's luck continues downhill. First one, then the second of the thugs are found dead.  Avy isn't answering her phone, Gwen's wanted for questioning, and one of their coworkers at ARTemis is the best suspect.

The trail (very Nancy Drew, isn't it?) leads Gwen and Quinn to Venice, just in time for Carnevale.  There the pair meets up with Avy and her mysterious fiancé, former thief Liam James. Though the latter two do not explain their sudden trip, they do kick in to help locate the Borgia mask. An attack at the carnival sends everyone scattering, but Gwen and Avy are still in for a rude awakening - just when Gwen finally seemed to be getting what she had dreamt of all those years ago.

Take Me Two Times is not your restive sort of book.  Though Kendall tends to get too descriptive about things that are of little interest to the reader (shoes, purses, dishware, etc.), the fast pace of the story makes that easy to overlook. There are numerous characters involved in the story, and for the most part it's easy to keep them clear in your mind, though there isn't anything special to endear either of the main characters to the reader.  In fact, one gets a better feel for Avy and Liam than they do for Gwen or Quinn - but perhaps, since this is apparently a series, they will continue to be fleshed out as the others have been. Regardless, Take Me Two Times has great promise, both as the second book in a series and as a flirty, sassy beach read.

--Sarrah Knight

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