There is nothing on this earth I love more than a well-done, engaging category romance. I consider it the purest art-form within the romance genre, and nothing makes my heart skip a beat faster than devouring an extremely well-done one. The flipside of this, of course, is that there is nothing quite as soul-sucking as a not-well-done category romance. The kind of book that makes 200 pages seem like an insurmountable obstacle to overcome. The kind of book that puts me in a very bad mood. Sad to say, Relentless Pursuit is one of the dreaded latter.
Will Delaney is one of those ubiquitous Texas tycoons that have overrun the Desire line of late, and he’s now the guardian to his orphaned niece, Caroline. His brother is dead, and the girl’s mother is, conveniently, one of those ubiquitous she-devils in Romance Land who gives birth, only to realize she resents her child, and takes off for glamorous parts unknown. The death of her father has left the girl shell-shocked, and she’s extremely withdrawn, although still very bright. Will is racking his brain to help the child and, to that end, propositions Ava Barton in more ways than one.
Ava is a teacher with impressive credentials and dreams to open up her own school one day. Even though Will can’t have a conversation with her without flirting, she agrees to assess his niece and recommend some tutors for the child. Naturally, after she meets the kid, that all changes, and Ava finds herself staying on at Will’s mansion to help the little girl.
There is so much about this book that I don’t like it’s almost tempting to just write everything down in list form and be done with it. Will’s devotion to his niece is admirable, but he seems just as determined to get into Ava’s panties. Ava, repeatedly, ad nauseum, seriously it’s never-ending!, keeps telling him throughout the book that they need to keep their relationship strictly business. Purely professional. Yet Will keeps up with the slick talk, flirting, and dare I say it?, oily behavior to the point where for fun I started mentally reading his dialogue in a Pepe Le Pew voice. Or for you younger kids reading this review, like Puss from the Shrek movies and Puss In Boots.
But it’s easy to understand why Will won’t take no for an answer, since Ava is one of those heroines who say, “No, no!” but when she does the lip-lock with Will she practically melts into him. Then, naturally, she does an about face and tells him that an affair is out and she must have a 100% commitment from him in the form of a happy-ever-after or no dice! The woman has about as much backbone and conviction as a dead jellyfish.
And that’s pretty much the entire conflict of the story. When Ava and Will aren’t arguing about keeping their relationship “professional,” they’re talking about Caroline. Honestly, it’s boring as hell.
The writing here is mostly serviceable until you get to Will’s dialogue, which is so laughable at times I found myself doing a lot of eye rolling. I could highlight whole stretches of the book, but here’s just one example of what I had to wade through during the “romantic” moments:
“Will, are you even listening to me?”
“Of course. You’re amazing, fantastic. I’ve never known a woman like you. You’re the sexiest woman ever,” he whispered. “Your kisses burn me to embers.”
YOUR KISSES BURN ME TO EMBERS?!?!?!?!? Ladies, no guy anywhere on the face of this earth (heck, let’s just say the whole Milky Way galaxy) would EVER say anything like that. And if he did? And he said it to you? I hope for the sake of all woman kind you laughed in his face and keep laughing….for like the next six months.
There’s also some heavy-handed sequel-baiting featuring Will’s Dead Daddy’s last will and testament, but honestly by that point I just wanted this horror show to be over. I do not, as a general rule, give out F grades lightly. I can usually find something, anything, even if it’s a small thing, positive to say about a book. But this one? I just can’t. There is nothing here I like. At all. A hero who borders on leering lecher and talks like no man anywhere, a heroine who says no but whose body says yes, and a little girl I sorta kinda felt sorry for but am convinced will grow up to be a spoiled brat because EVERYBODY dotes on her non-stop. Yeah, I got nothing. Absolutely nothing.
A cool million to help a withdrawn child in time for kindergarten? Widowed teacher Ava Barton is touched that the girl’s guardian, Texas billionaire Will Delaney, cares so deeply. But the job includes moving into Will’s mansion for the summer. And suddenly, Ava is working nights and weekends trying—unsuccessfully—to resist the gorgeous tycoon down the hall. Will wants her in his bed for June, July and August. But come fall, he’ll move on. Unless she can teach him a thing or two about opening his guarded heart to love.
Other books in this series: