As I heard many complimentary things said about Lauren Dane’s book Undercover, I was quite excited to read Relentless. I was shocked to find that not only is the writing quite shabby, but the characters are undeveloped, and the love scenes are flat-out boring. Why must erotica so often preclude romance?
Since the first settlers from Earth arrived, fifteen Ranked Families have ruled the Federation ‘Verses. Abbie Haws, a barrister, is furious at the lack of democracy and is stirring up controversy in the ‘Verses with her protests. She wants the unranked to be represented now. After demanding an audience with the Ranked, she is finally granted a meeting with the head of the House Lyons, who is also the leader of the ‘Verses. When she and Roman Lyons meet, the attraction is electric, and they embark on a forbidden affair while struggling to reconcile political beliefs.
To say the writing style is clumsy would be an understatement. There are narration shifts and ambiguous thoughts (it’s not clear which character is thinking what) within the space of a few lines; it’s annoying and it happens more than once. I would expect to find this style of writing in a sloppy journal: a million sentences beginning with “and” and “but,” sentences missing crucial pronouns, and tons of sentence fragments. I suppose some people would call this “realistic,” but only if you’re a humanoid running out of batteries. I personally don’t know anyone who speaks in disjointed phrases and says things like “Look at me, Abbie, so I can see how beautiful you are. I have all I want and still I want more. But what I want most, I can’t have. I’ve never had that feeling before. I can’t say that I like it.” As far as I’m concerned, you haven’t said a single damn thing.
Abbie and Roman are straight from Central Casting. She’s petite (of course) with a fiery disposition (of course), and her specialty is giving canned, generic 20 line speeches. I suppose they strike a chord in some people, because Roman is always being stirred by her “eloquence.” Which reminds me – everyone gets a monologue in Relentless, and the reader has to sit through entire pages of these long-winded speeches.
Roman is a big yawn. He’s moneyed and lonely. His wife died young, leaving him to raise two boys. Of course he’s a wonderful father. Of course he’s the lone good man in a world of slimy politicians. His penchant for dirty talk is supposed to be interesting, but I never found it very dirty. Just…boring. Somewhere in the middle of the book he begins calling Abbie “Gorgeous,” which is high on the Ick Factor for me, along with Precious, Beautiful, and Angel.
I appreciated that the sex wasn’t painful or awkward, but it was surprisingly dull and mechanical. After the tenth time, it just became boring. Many authors change up the sex words in a book and use all the euphemisms under the sun, but this author is very decisive in her choices. Cock and cunt it is. Boy, does she use it a lot.
At one point, Roman is so struck by Abbie’s awesomeness during a monologue that he writes her a letter. However, this passionate letter does not contain typical love letter content, but rather how he’s remembering the multiple times he “ate her cunt.” I laughed at the time, but afterwards, I was pissed at the fact that he’s supposed to be missing her, and all he can talk about is how he reaallllyy wants to screw her. This only reiterated to me that theirs is a relationship heavily based on physical need. I saw the attraction, but no love.
This book is not very different from most erotica in that the plot is thin. They also manage to have a three-day romantic escapade yet have the guts to be surprised when they’re caught. The ending, as my teenage nephew would say, is ridonculous. It is beyond ridiculous.
Being labeled “erotica” is no excuse for a skimpy story. A realistic book with casual dialogue should not translate into a text rife with poor grammar. The only reason this book gets a C- instead of a D+ is because the author believes, like I do, that “alright” is NOT a real word and consistently uses “all right” instead. Good for her.