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Kate Hewitt

REVIEW: The Man Who Could Never Love by Kate Hewitt

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.

~Jayne

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REVIEW:  Zoe and the Tormented Tycoon by Kate Hewitt

REVIEW: Zoe and the Tormented Tycoon by Kate Hewitt

Dear Ms. Hewitt:

My first thought when I started this book is “another Balfour sisters’ story.”   I feel like I’ve read a dozen of them so far.   Surely Mr. Balfour couldn’t have fathered all these women, right?   Right.   Zoe, who thought she was a Balfour all her life, turns out to be illegitimate, but raised by Oscar Balfour as his own.

	 Zoe and the Tormented Tycoon  by 	Kate HewittZoe’s illegitimacy is the talk of the London social circuit and not in a good way.   Oscar informs Zoe that the answers she wants are in New York and gently suggests she go across the ocean to meet her biological father.   (As an aside, are the terms “bio dad/bio mom” solely used by adoptees. I was always surprised when Zoe referred to her sperm donor as “father” in her thoughts without qualification).     Zoe heads to New York but avoids the real purpose of her visit. Instead, Zoe wastes her days shopping and her nights partying.     Zoe is fairly purposeless and the one thing that grounded her was being a Balfour.   This stantion being ripped away has shaken her and in her moments of introspection, Zoe sees nothing of worth.   This insecurity is compounded by the falsity surrounding her birth and parentage.

Similarly, but for other reasons, Max Monroe is suffering the same identity crisis and lack of self confidence.   A self made multi millionaire, Max is informed that a genetic condition will result in Max becoming blind in less than six months.   His blindness and a concomitant terror associated with blindness is causing Max to withdraw into himself and question his self worth.

I really loved the duality of these conflicts and the exploration of the psyche below the shiny surfaces.   To observers, Zoe and Max must be happy because they are wealthy and goodlooking.   Yet the gloss is only a veneer and a thin one at that.   The two engage in a one night stand that leaves them both less happy than before their connection and Zoe pregnant.

I thought this “what you see is not what you get” concept was cleverly carried out in the perceptions Zoe and Max had of each other. Max sees a wealthy, flighty society girl who would never be able to accept a man as imperfect as he while Zoe sees Max’s stony silences and reluctance to move outside his comfort zone as indifference and arrogance when it is really his fear of humiliation due to his increasing blindness.

Zoe’s pregnancy is the making of her.   She accepts responsibility for the child and begins to seek out more responsibility in her life including facing her biological father and volunteering at a local woman’s clinic. The pregnancy makes Max shrink farther within himself.   He sees himself as nothing but a liability.   While I understood Max’s point of view, I was surprised that Zoe was so resilient emotionally in the face of his cruelty regarding her pregnancy.   While I appreciated her internal fortitude, it didn’t really match with her previous behavior and I hadn’t been convinced that by this point in the book, Zoe had undergone that much change.

I really did like Max and Zoe though.   Max’s torment was well articulated and it did help to offset his unlikeable behavior.   He was an asshole but with a reason and not just because he was burned by a woman once and thus hated all womankind.

What was ultimately problematic about this book was the length.   There was so much drama and agnst that the short space of the category made the character arc too sharp.   Both Max and Zoe go from wounded to rejoicing in too short of a time frame.   Zoe’s on screen development consisted of facing up her biological father and volunteering rather than partying.   Max’s was more of an internal struggle but he had so much to overcome that it seemed unrealistic for him to have come to grips with his loss and his past.   In fact, I thought that there was an additional agnst that was added based on Max’s past that was unnecessary.

I closed the story and wondered what this would have read like in a 90,000 word novel rather than a 60,000+ word novel.     For HP lovers, I think that this would be a very good read but for non HP lovers, the sharp character arcs might not be satisfying.   B-

Best regards,

Jane

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