It’s common knowledge that the Known Universe revolves around the world Ravena – and that Ravena revolves around Roman Lyons, bred to lead since birth. Roman dreads his meeting with a defiant – if stunning – rabble-rouser. But sometimes headstrong personalities in the conference room make for hot-and-heavy, guilty trysts in private.
Now, Abbie will show Roman the parts of her world he wouldn’t otherwise get to see. And he’ll give her a glimpse of the Families’ age-old traditions and unleash a sexuality he’s never given rein to before.
Relentless is the followup to Undercover, the futuristic ménage set in the Known Universes. While I liked Undercover, I can honestly say I loved Relentless. Loved it. Relentless is not a ménage; it’s a M/F love story, set in the same world as Undercover, and taking place almost immediately after Undercover ends.
Like Undercover, one of the things I liked so much, even though this is a futuristic, is the definite parallels to historicals drawn in this book. The conflict is based around the differences between the Ranked and unranked (think ranked aristocracy and unranked commoners). The language and terminology used for many things is very anachronistic for a futuristic, harkening back to Regency times. For example, they drink mulled wine and wear spectacles. Abbie is a barrister, not an attorney. That gave me a sense of comfort and familiarity in a genre that is far outside my comfort zone. Additionally, Dane’s voice is a familiar and comfortable one, a constant in what might otherwise be uncharted territory for me.
Abbie and Roman are both very likable characters, both strong in their convictions and loyal to their people. When they meet, it’s instant chemistry, and while they know they shouldn’t, and can’t, be together, they simply can’t fight it. Again, drawing parallels, it reminds me very much of similar stories of Dukes and unranked “bluestockings” falling in love. Their entire affair is carried out knowing that Roman will eventually have to marry within the Ranked, and that he cannot be with Abbie, since she won’t be his mistress, and he wouldn’t ask her to be. Yet they defy convention, meeting secretly and falling in love anyway. And in doing so, each get a glimpse into the other’s world and gain new respect for the other and their place within that world.
Dane does a beautiful job of showing Roman, especially, falling for Abbie. This particular passage, made me stop and sigh:
He tapped quietly on her door, anticipation thrumming through his veins. She opened, wearing a soft robe, her hair loose like he preferred. He stepped inside and everything felt right again.
“I’m sorry. I wanted to get away earlier, but Alexander wanted to talk. And talk some more. I escaped as soon as I could. Is it too late?”
She cupped his cheek. “I’ve missed you. I’ll take whatever of you I can get.”
He moved into her arms because it was where he was supposed to be. She was warm and soft and felt like home.
His clothes melted away, their hands working together to make him naked, as naked as his heart was.
Sigh. Roman is a man who isn’t afraid to feel things deeply. He loves his grown sons, his people, and he loves Abbie. He writes her several love letters through the course of the book as well. Oh, and he talks dirty. Heaven help me, I love that when it’s done realistically. In turn, Abbie loves her cause, her people, and Roman. Their circumstances tear them apart, much as they try not to let them.
I thought the conflict was well done – the desire of the Movement for Democratic Reform – the desire of the unranked to have representation on the governing council. Abbie is their spokesperson, and it wasn’t tied up all quickly and neatly in a bow. While it was her job to convince the Council of the wisdom of this, it didn’t happen overnight, and several things including her job as a barrister got in the way.
I appreciated that both Abbie and Roman felt a deep sense of responsibility toward the people of Ravena – all the people, not just those within their own class system. While innate to them both, that grew deeper as they learned more about one another’s people and grew to care more deeply for each other.
The world-building in Relentless felt more complete here than in Undercover. I felt a sense of connection, felt drawn into the everyday lives of these people, came to care about them. It wasn’t superfluous; it was an integral part of the storytelling; each setting served to forward the story in some way. I didn’t get that sense with Undercover.
I felt Relentless was a flawless romance. The characterization was excellent, the world-building perfect. I loved every minute of this story that, by all rights, should have been outside my comfort zone, but instead felt like reading an old favorite. Now if only I could convince Lauren to stop using the C word so dang much, LOL. Different fight, different day :)
Oh, and if you’re wondering who she pictured as Roman, the last line of the acknowledgments is this: “Lastly, thank you to Daniel Craig, who played Roman Lyons in my head. I promise neither Abbie or I sullied you too much.”
Yum. Daniel Craig.