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REVIEW: The Man Who Could Never Love by Kate Hewitt

Note: was released in the UK as “The Bride’s Awakening”

Dear. Ms. Hewitt,

Your post at DA about your hero who deliberately marries his plain heroine caught my attention. A dashing, powerful, dark Italian hero who isn’t going to bed/marry then spurn/reject/humiliate a delicate blonde flower of a heroine? Bring it!

“Vittorio Ralfino, the Count of Cazlevara, is back in Italy to make a business proposition. He wishes to marry a traditional wife, and Anamaria Viale—sturdy, plain and from a good vintner’s family—perfectly fits his bill.

Ana is stunned that Vittorio is offering her—an ugly duckling!—marriage. She’d stoically resigned herself to a career and singledom.

But Vittorio is persuasive and Ana would like a child of her own. Although she’s under no illusion that this is anything but a convenient marriage—Vittorio will never offer her love. So when the time comes for him to claim her as his bride, she’s surprised—and amazed—at the strength of his passion….”

The Man Who Could Never Love by Kate HewitOne thing that really gets my shorts in a wad is a huge power disparity between hero and heroine. I don’t just mean money or status or titles but also personal power. So I was delighted that Ana, despite often not being able to resist her desire for Vittorio, initially stands up to him and sets him back on his heels. He thinks it’s going to be a quick 1, 2 done deal to get Ana to agree to what he’s already decided will happen. Instead she is the one who walks away from him at their first meeting and clearly disdains his obvious, practiced and insincere flattery. A stunned Vittoria realizes he’s going to have to regroup and try again. And yet again when she rejects his offer to doll herself up with new clothes at an exclusive Venetian boutique. Ana makes Vittorio work for it even though she enjoys the thoughfully chosen gifts he sends her and really enjoys kissing him.

Ana is one who has never thought of herself as beautiful nor has anyone else. Cutting comments which started back when she was a teenager and an aborted attempt at romance in college have her convinced that a grand romance and hot passion are not in her future regardless of whether or not she’s always admired and had fond thoughts of Vittorio. She has a real dilemma. Should she marry someone who claims he doesn’t and will never love her. Can she put away her feelings for him and accept a clinical business marriage? If she says no, will this be her only chance, as she nears age thirty, for any chance at marriage and for the children she’d like to have? Ana stops and thinks about all this, considers her options, talks with her father and then makes an informed decision that isn’t merely based on the fact that she melts like a chocolate bar in the tropical sun when Vittorio kisses her. She also coolly informs him not to try and change her – he knows what he’s getting and he better be content with that. When Ana dissolves into a puddle for the tenth time, I reminded myself of those positive things and of the fact that she stays relatively level headed about all this.

Vittorio might be cold and controlled but it’s soon obvious why he’s adopted this attitude. Hurt by both parents while still a child then continuously snubbed and slighted by his cold mother and spoilt younger brother, this is his armor against it all. He might not dwell on these issues all the time but learned behavior is just that and has become second nature to him. It takes Ana a little while to figure it all out – aided by comments from the Dowager Contessa and a heart to heart with Bernardo – but she does and realizes that this shell that Vittorio wears needs to be dealt with they are to have any chance of continuing the happiness they’ve worked towards.

Ana’s actions that Vittorio objects to and thinks of as disloyal are based on positive, thought out goals instead of being rash. She knows he’ll be angry but is counting on his good sense and intelligence to allow her to explain. When the eruption occurs, she still fights for them until she thinks it’s all hopeless. But since Vittorio is the one in the wrong, I’m glad he’s the one who appears to suffer more – at least he was the one crying all night – and that he’s the one who – quickly, yeah! – comes to his senses and effects a reconciliation. Okay the discussions he says have already taken place seem rather quick but it’s still an work in progress when the book ends. Cracks in family relations take a lot longer than a few hours worth of early morning talks to finally clear away.

Alright all you Presents fans and authors. You kept telling me that they’re not all alike and now I believe you. My luck with this line has been spotty at best but I’ll keep a more open mind in the future. A more equally power balanced couple, a heroine who is not a dainty, fainting doormat and a hero who quickly realizes when he’s wrong and then works to fix things are worth a B grade for this one.


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Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.


  1. John
    Jun 22, 2011 @ 12:33:48

    Oh, Jayne, have you read Sarah Morgan? I love every single one of her Presents. Her writing is beyond awesome. Her characters feel very balanced, and she’s one of the few authors that matches the drama with humor. I also enjoy Lynn Rae Harris, but her books are a little more ‘classic’, so I’d read an excerpt of her’s first if you go to try her. :)

    I’ll look out for this one for sure!

  2. Liz Mc
    Jun 22, 2011 @ 12:41:19

    I enjoyed this book a lot for all the reasons you give (I think I’m like you about Presents). I really liked that Ana loved her work running the family winery, and had proved herself in a male-dominated field.

    It made me want to try Hewitt’s August release, which is a retelling of Austen’s Emma, a book I love and another heroine who has power of her own.

  3. Jayne
    Jun 22, 2011 @ 12:48:48

    @John: No, I haven’t tried her but will look at her books at the Harlequin website. Thanks for the rec.

  4. Jayne
    Jun 22, 2011 @ 12:50:06

    @Liz Mc: I’m definitely going to look at Hewitt’s other books too. Good point about Ana having earned respect in her professional life.

  5. SarahFlorida
    Jun 22, 2011 @ 12:50:49

    I’ll second John with the recommendation of Sarah Morgan. She also write for the Medical Romance line and I have just received 2 of her new titles in the mail (shipped from the UK)!!

  6. Jayne
    Jun 22, 2011 @ 12:52:24

    @SarahFlorida: Ooooh, if you think it worth getting her books shipped from the UK, I’ll definitely look into her.

  7. Lindsey
    Jun 22, 2011 @ 13:01:04

    I absolutely loved this book. I also found it because of the author’s post on the books coming out this month thread, and I’m glad that I not only caught it, but followed through and read it. I was also not satisfied with how quickly the family situation seemed to wrap up, but it didn’t impact my overall enjoyment of the book.

    If you’re looking for other HP romances that are less than typical, might I recommend The Shy Bride? It’s nowhere near your typical angst-ridden HP (which I love, but not all the time), but it’s very sweet, and a story where the hero and heroine actually start with (gasp) friendship before they move into a relationship.

  8. Jayne
    Jun 22, 2011 @ 13:16:08

    @Lindsey: Thanks for the rec. I’m glad you told me something about it as the blurb and cover scream “Typical Presents book!”

  9. Jayne
    Jun 22, 2011 @ 13:18:02

    Has anyone got specific Sarah Morgan books I should look for? Again, from a brief glance at the Harlequin website, the titles all sound like Angry Hero/Doormate Bride to me.

  10. John
    Jun 22, 2011 @ 13:40:22

    One Night…Nine Month Scandal was really awesome. The hero had a particularly vulnerable moment with a teddy bear that was awesome. The heroine was a kindergarten teacher. It was my ‘starter book’ and got me addicted to her writing.

    I believe Mills and Boon has one of her earlier titles on its free promotional downloads site thing. I also enjoyed Bell and the Merciless Sheikh, but One Night is probably my favorite. To be fair, most Presents are skewed to appeal to the general readership. Her heroines are definitely not doormats!

  11. John
    Jun 22, 2011 @ 13:41:46

    I also apologize for using the word ‘awesome’ like I may die tomorrow. My vernacular is…not appropriate in describing just how much I enjoy certain writers.

  12. Linda Winfree
    Jun 22, 2011 @ 14:55:30

    Harlequin Presents are my mind-McDonald’s-Caramel-Frappe pleasure. I read this one a couple of weeks ago and loved it for the reasons you cited. Loved that he cried over her and really enjoyed watching him fall for her. Ana was a great heroine, and I left the book feeling the couple really would live HEA.

  13. Julie
    Jun 22, 2011 @ 15:01:55

    I have been on a Harlequin kick, so I just bought this based on your review. The Presents line isn’t my favorite, either, but this does sound like something that I would enjoy. Thanks for the rec.

    What is your favorite series line? I would say Harlequin American Romance for myself, but I think I am burnt out on cowboys right now. Don’t even get me started on the baby books – my least favorite trope!

  14. Liz Mc
    Jun 22, 2011 @ 15:54:14

    @Jayne: Sarah Morgan is funny, but I do find the power dynamics a bit alpha/doormat for my taste. I enjoyed One Night . . . 9 Month Scandal too, though.

  15. Jayne
    Jun 22, 2011 @ 16:09:33

    @Julie: This is a Presents Extra which is supposed to have a more even power balance between hero and heroine. I think a lot of these titles are also published by Mills and Boon under a different line though I can’t recall what it is right now.

    I also check the Harlequin Romance line. It features more CEO hero types like the Presents but they’re usually not assholes and the heroines use their spines. The superromance line is another one I like – not so many babies and cowboys as the American Romance books. The Harlequin Special Edition is another line that I’ve enjoyed a lot. I do check the Historicals every month but am finding fewer ones I’m interested in reading. Too many Regency era and/or governess books lately.

  16. Jayne
    Jun 22, 2011 @ 16:11:24

    @Liz Mc: I’m going to try this book and see how it goes. If I like her, I might come back for more specific recs as I don’t like to blindly try authors/books in this line

  17. Kate Hewitt
    Jun 22, 2011 @ 16:52:53

    Thanks very much for the kind review–I’m so glad you enjoy you enjoyed The Man Who Could Never Love. Just to clarify: this is a classic Presents, published as a Presents Extra. Each month two classic Presents are published as Presents Extra, and two Rivas are also published as Presents Extra. Rivas are the ones you are referring to, I think, and they generally have a sassier, younger vibe. It’s confusing, I know, to have two different kinds of books published under the same banner, but there it is.

  18. Vanessa Jaye
    Jun 22, 2011 @ 17:28:21

    I read this one last week. The title caught my eye, and the synopsis cinched the buy. It was my first Hewitt book, but certainly not my last. Enjoyed it for all the reasons stated in your review and in the comments.

    I’ll also add my vote to the ‘try Sarah Morgan’ chorus

  19. Lynn S.
    Jun 22, 2011 @ 18:20:45

    Don’t you make a cute little fly.

    I haven’t read Hewitt before so I might have to give her a try. I still stand behind my previous recommendation of Kelly Hunter.

  20. Jayne
    Jun 22, 2011 @ 18:57:11

    @Kate Hewitt: Riva! Yes, that’s what I couldn’t think of. It is confusing but with so many different lines at both Harlequin and Mills & Boon, that’s not a difficult thing to do. Thanks for the clarification.

  21. Jayne
    Jun 22, 2011 @ 19:00:31

    @Lynn S.: Any particular Kelly Hunter titles that I should look for?

  22. Lynn S.
    Jun 22, 2011 @ 20:37:10

    @Jayne: Sleeping Partner is my favorite by Hunter although it is hard to find since, for some inexplicable reason, it’s never been released in the States. Very emotional read with a beautiful dreamy quality to it.

    Her Bennett Family series is also good, especially Untameable Rogue and Her Singapore Fling.

  23. Lilian Darcy
    Jun 22, 2011 @ 21:24:01

    Seconding, thirding and fourthing the Kelly Hunter recommendations. She is up for a Rita again this year, for Red Hot Renegade, aka Her Singapore Fling.

  24. orannia
    Jun 22, 2011 @ 21:27:02

    Thank you Jayne. I do like the sound of this (I love a level-headed heroine and…I’m a fan of the ugly duckling trope :) Plus, I like the sound of Vittorio – learned behaviour is so hard to change!

    My favourite Presents book is an older one – Blackmailed into Marriage (Lucy Monroe). The hero isn’t angry IMHO and the heroine’s not a doormat. Plus, I love how the heroine has a particular issue that just isn’t discussed in romance novels at all (well, except for this one book).

  25. Sunita
    Jun 22, 2011 @ 21:37:48

    I will definitely read this one!

    My favorite Kelly Hunter is Bedded for Diamonds. It’s set in the Australian Outback and it’s more or less a road romance.

    John, I had no idea I had been supplanted as DA’s biggest Sarah Morgan fan! I second the rec for One Night, etc. I Top 10’d one of her Medicals from last year, but other readers found the heroine too doormat-ish so I won’t suggest that one. Sale or Return Bride is also very very good. A pretty classic Presents, I think.

  26. Niveau
    Jun 22, 2011 @ 21:57:02

    I think I’ve loved absolutely every book I’ve read by this author – not only does she stay away from the doormat/alpha relationship model so common to Presents, she does very unexpected things with her characters. I just read her entry in the Balfour Brides series the other day, and I couldn’t help thinking that, in most other Presents, the heroine would’ve been the evil ex (she wasn’t a virgin and enjoyed parties and shopping, which is your standard-issue gold-digging ex in that line *rolls eyes*) and the hero would’ve been a secondary character (he had more emotions than just lust and hatred for the heroine).

    I find Sarah Morgan to be hit-or-miss; sometimes her books are wonderful but I’ve been burned by enough timid virgins to be cautious before buying anything with her name on the cover these days. On the other hand, I’d wholeheartedly recommend Caitlin Crews – sometimes there are power imbalances, and her heroes can be huge jerks, but and they tend to be acutely aware of how badly they’ve messed/are messing up, and her heroines have enough backbone to deal with them appropriately – as well as India Grey’s more recent releases. I really enjoy her older books as well, but I’ve found that the more she writes, the more she pushes into what (to me) feels like new territory for Presents, with characters who feel more modern, more human, and who are much more evenly matched.

  27. John
    Jun 22, 2011 @ 22:26:44

    @Sunita: No, I think you’re still her #1 here at DA. I’ve only read Bella and One Night right now, but I’ve loved both. I have one of her Medicals and two more of her Presents in my TBR, though. Her writing is just utterly fabulous.

  28. Mikaela
    Jun 23, 2011 @ 01:25:11

    For those of you in the UK, Mills and Boon has this book on clearance for £0.99. (Both paper and e-book). I tried to buy it yesterday, but it failed. sigh.

  29. Jayne
    Jun 23, 2011 @ 04:02:45

    @Lynn S.: @Lilian Darcy: Am I the only one who looks at this title and can’t help but think the heroine is ordering a cocktail at a bar? ;)

  30. Lenice
    Jun 23, 2011 @ 04:54:40

    Thanks for the review/ rec Jayne. I really don’t tolerate the asshole/doormat ratio in trad Presents well at all so genuinely value hearing beforehand about this facet of the book. If you are looking for other good value Presents I strongly reccommend checking out any of the ones by Natalie Anderson and Susan Napier. Michelle Reid has some good moments too but a little more traditional.

  31. Ros
    Jun 23, 2011 @ 06:42:50

    I love stumbling across threads like this which recommend all my favourite authors! The only word of caution I have is re. Susan Napier. I’ve loved some of her backlist books but the one I read yesterday (Vengeance) was really weird and also creepy.

  32. Jayne
    Jun 23, 2011 @ 06:45:23

    @Ros: I know Jane reads a lot of Susan Napier so I’m going to go back and check some of her reviews for ideas. But I appreciate all the different author and title recs I’ve gotten so far.

  33. Jane
    Jun 23, 2011 @ 06:49:05

    I love Susan Napier. I don’t know if i have read Vengeance but most of hers are quite subversive for the HP line. I second the upstream commenter who recommended Caitlin Crews. I think she is an amazing writer. There is so much emotion in her writing. India Grey is definitely growing on me.

    Also a fan of Kimberly Lang, Sarah Morgan. Jayne, you liked Anne McAllister. You should be reading her backlist Desires. I bet you would love them.

  34. Jayne
    Jun 23, 2011 @ 06:51:28

    @Lenice: I actually read a Michelle Reid book ages ago that I really liked called “The Ultimate Betrayal” and one that wasn’t so good called “The Spanish Husband.” I’ve thought about checking into her books again but again am stymied by not really knowing which ones might suit me.

  35. Jayne
    Jun 23, 2011 @ 06:54:28

    @Jane: Hmmm, I tried a Lang and it didn’t do much for me but as I recall you enjoyed it more. I have been looking for more Anne McAllister but until recently there weren’t that many. I’ll have to check the backlist again.

  36. Suzannah
    Jun 23, 2011 @ 08:21:33

    Ooh, if we’re recommending things, try Lucy Monroe’s “The Scorsolini Marriage Bargain”, which is one of my very favourites. It came out a while ago but is available in e.

    I’m another Sarah Morgan fan, and echo the recommendation for “One Night…Nine Month Scandal”, which is the funniest Presents I’ve read, but the Medicals are definitely worth trying. “The Italian Doctor’s Wife” is excellent – I see looking at eHarlequin that it came out as a Presents in the US although the hero is a (rich) doctor and there is a hospital setting for part of it. It was a Medical in the UK and there is a linked book about the hero’s brother.

  37. Julie
    Jun 23, 2011 @ 11:02:51

    I read this book during the weekend and loved it! I enjoyed their romance, but also the fact that the relationships which the hero and heroine had with their parents was given space to develop.

    Count me in as another Sarah Morgan fan. Whether she’s writing Modern or Medical, she is always fabulous. India Grey is another brilliant writer and I adore Kate Walker’s intense and emotional titles.

    For fun and flirty Presents (or Riva), Nicola Marsh, Heidi Rice and Kate Hardy shouldn’t be missed.

  38. Lynn S.
    Jun 23, 2011 @ 11:38:58

    @Sunita: I loved Tristan and his cars.

    @Jayne: The Singapore Fling name makes even less sense when you consider that the characters are an estranged married couple. The original title was Red-Hot Renegade and I’m curious as the reasoning behind the change.

    I would have also recommended Susan Napier except for the problems you have mentioned before regarding heroes. She’s a fabulous author but her heroes can be wildly inappropriate. Ros is right about Vengeance. The premise was a hard sell regardless, but the Novella length made it impossible. If you want to try Napier, you might enjoy In Bed with the Boss.

    Regarding Lenice’s recommendation of Natalie Anderson, she has a great modern voice but, word of warning, some of her earlier books have a misogynistic undertone. It’s not bad but it’s there; hopefully she works it out in her later books because she’s a good writer. Even given the “I don’t like women, but I love you” hero, I really enjoyed Mistress Under Contract.

  39. SarahFlorida
    Jun 28, 2011 @ 21:36:13

    @Jayne: Hi Jayne, sorry for not replying sooner – the 2 Sarah Morgan books arrived after this post and I just had to read them straightaway :)

    Now that I’ve read them I can state that the heroine’s were not doormats at all. In one she is a doctor and in the other she is the main force behind her father’s company. They are:

    1. Prince on the Children’s Ward – medical romance, she knows the prince but doesn’t treat him like royalty at all, which he likes.

    2. Doukakis’s Apprentice – just finished this 10 mins ago and loved it. The heroine is not scared to stand up to the hero and doesn’t allow him to speak to her badly.

    I’ve not really read a bad Sarah Morgan book and I’ve kept all of her titles rather than swap like I have other Harlequin/Mills & Boon authors.

  40. SarahFlorida
    Jun 28, 2011 @ 21:44:31

    @Jayne: Hi Jayne, I have some Anne McAllister books in storage. If you check her backlist and ere is something you fancy, let me know and I’ll see if I’ve got it and I can put it up on if you’re on there. I’ve got 4500 books in my database and hundreds still to catalogue. I don’t want to keep all of these as I don’t have the room!!

  41. Jayne
    Jun 29, 2011 @ 09:11:55

    @SarahFlorida: Thanks for posting these recs! The heroines sound like their more my style.

  42. Christine
    May 11, 2012 @ 17:55:42

    I had so much fun reading this book! Thank you for your review.

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