Chase the Dream by Maris Soule
(Loveswept #875, $3.75, G) ISBN 0-553-44696-0
***
Annie Marsden is a private duty nurse, bright, beautiful with a brimming personality. She has been assigned to care for Dr. Link Sheffield, certified genius, inventor and curmudgeon. Link is at home in California recovering from an explosion in his laboratory that has confined him to bed. He had been working on a new type of battery cell to power cars, and is having a hard time accepting the reality that his lab is gone and that time is running out to enter the Detroit contest for the best battery.

A lover of cats, mysteries and cryptograms, Annie is feisty enough to withstand Link's grumpy criticism. Hired by Link's only relative, Uncle Ron, she is determined to outlast Link's churlishness.

Why is Link so alone in the world? Well, his wife left him when the financial stability of a self-employed inventor did not meet her expectations. Her departure was a replay of Link's past history, since his mother had simply disappeared one day as well. As for his father and brother, they died the previous year in a private airplane crash.

Understandable as grief may be in these circumstances, it was still too much a stretch for me to find it credible that Link was sulky and rude to Annie because he felt that like everyone else in his life, she would leave him, too. Doesn't this premise overlook employee responsibility and the professionalism of nurses? And speaking of replays, isn't fear of abandonment an often used plot device?

Despite Link's attitude, Annie tries to get him interested in his battery cell again. She is also convinced that there is something more sinister about the lab explosion than a mere accident. Reluctantly, Link starts to listen. As the story begins to unravel, danger for Annie and Link increases, as well as their desire for each other.

Although the plot is creative in places, I found it impossible to overcome my dislike of Link during the course of the book. Maybe that's because I personally would be highly resistant to the charms of a person who asserts that I am not doing enough for them fast enough. Even though I know you will like Annie, and the dialogue is occasionally snappy, the resolution of Chase the Dream was just a little bit too pat and convenient.

--Thea Davis


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