RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge Review: Zoe and the Tormented Tycoon by Kate Hewitt


Title: Zoe and the Tormented Tycoon
Author: Kate Hewitt
Publication Info: Harlequin 2010
ISBN: 9780373129584
Genre: Contemporary Romance

RITA®, and the RITA statuette are service marks of Romance Writers of America, Inc.“Yes, No, Maybe” wrote this review for the RITA® Reader Challenge, and says she had a hard time writing it because the book was so special to her.

Book Cover

Plot Summary: Everyone’s talking about Zoe Balfour—the illegitimate heiress! She flies to New York to discover more about her biological family and goes a little wild, shocking even herself by spending one night with a gorgeous stranger.

The gradual loss of his sight has caused Manhattan mogul Max Monroe to close himself off from the world—a wife and child are most certainly not on his agenda! How will Zoe, once just a spoiled socialite and now unexpectedly pregnant, unlock the dark heart of a man who may never see his own child?

And now, “Yes, No, Maybe’s” reviews, with spoilers blanked so highlight to read, k? K.

I took a week before writing this review. Why? Because I’ve read enough Harlequin Presents in recent years to be selective and keep my expectations low, only this story wasn’t the Kleenex variety. You know…flimsy, single ply, easy to blow through. My problem was how to articulate in 250 words or less why this book was special. 
First and foremost this book doesn’t follow the classic Harlequin Presents script. Monroe is not your typical HP alph-ass hero.

He suffers from PTSD, blindness and a guilty conscience.

He’s scared, angry and defensive. Party-girl Zoe Balfour is not feisty nor a secret virgin. She comes across as a spoilt socialite, weak, even unlikable.

I don’t think we were supposed to like her initially. How else could I as a reader forgive Max his brutal treatment and subsequent desertion of a pregnant Zoe?  Whether just or not he sees her as the reader does.

Hewitt did her job well. Subtly played is Zoe’s quiet desperation. It shows when Max’s shell cracks a little. Zoe folds in on herself, plays to type, unable to relieve Max of his secrets and pain while her own sense of security is tested. She questions how Oscar Balfour could say “You’re stronger than you think”.

But she is.

It’s tenuous at first look. However, [Zoe] doesn’t retreat from society’s snubbing, or in telling Max she’s pregnant, and while facing her cold, sperm-reckless bio-father. Max’s rejection is heartrending yet she returns home and waits, quietly growing more resilient.

Max has serious issues. Fortunately for him, love’s sisterly emotion is hope. [And] Max’s Achilles’ heel is hope. Dare he hope for a full life, conceivably with Zoe and their child?

His journey to England is a metaphor of their future. It will be tough but you know they’ll make it for the reason that Max has found the courage and Zoe is strong enough to see them through.

It’s a beautiful story.

This book is available from Amazon | Kindle | BN & nook | eHarlequin.com | WORD Brooklyn | Sony | Kobo | Book Depository

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Karin says:

    Wow, great review! I burnt out on Harlequin presents some time ago, but you make me want to go back.

  2. 2
    Jessica says:

    I’ve got this in my collection! I can’t wait to read it.

  3. 3
    Alex says:

    I assume this is Zoe’s Lesson from the Balfour Legacy series retitled for the US market?  I haven’t read this one but I’ve read a few others from the series and they’re such a mixed bag.  Some are really good fun but some are utterly dreadful.

  4. 4
    Ros says:

    Alex, yes this is Zoe’s Lesson.  And I agree that the Balfour series was like the curate’s egg, good in parts.  Personally, this was one of my least favourite Balfour books, though I am very much in the minority on this – it’s had excellent reviews everywhere else!  My favourite’s were India Grey and Sarah Morgan’s stories (Emily and Bella).

  5. 5

    I read this one when it came out and it was amazing. I have a friend who started going blind when he was about 21 or so—and is now legally blind, even though he has a *little* eyesight remaining. (This is spoilered in the original review, but it’s covered in the first pages of the book so I don’t feel bad revealing what’s in white text).

    This one made me tear up. I don’t know if that personal connection made it extra-emotional for me, but I do know that I really, really loved it.

    Word: degree64. Appropriate, because despite his blindness my friend has more degrees and more cool accolades than almost anyone else I know.

  6. 6
    KiriD79 says:

    Awesome review.  I might try this one.  Harliquin Presents are usually not my type, but this sounds interesting.  I also watned to say that at a glance, I thought the title was:  Zoe and the Tormented Raccoon. :o)

  7. 7
    QQ says:

    I just read this book this week too!  I’ve been reading Balfour sister stories, this one was okay, agree this was one of the least likable heroines. She is pretty into her shopping and rave parties.  Although she notices the hero has sight issues, this doesn’t seem to make her react in a nice or nurturing way.  I’m not sure I get the bond between these two at times.  She is one night stand material and stays that way, sometimes that is alllllllllllllllllllllllll.  Anywho, he is dealing with his eye issues.  I gave this only average marks for plot.  I think much better books about heroines losing eyeshight by Deane and Kinsale.

    North29 – is this a clue I should be driving somewhere?

  8. 8
    JaniceG says:

    Courtney: Haven’t read this one but another outstanding book featuring a hero coping with blindness is Miss Ware’s Refusal by Marjorie Farrell about an officer blinded in the Napoleonic wars and the woman he hires as a reader. (Other books featuring characters in this one are Lady Barbara’s Dilemma and Autumn Rose.)

  9. 9
    Niveau says:

    I don’t get why people think Zoe’s unlikable – it’s not like she does anything particularly heinous, other than being a Presents heroine who’s not a virgin and/or martyr. It’s nice to see a heroine in that line acting realistically for her age, for once. Usually they’re so out-of-date that I can barely reconcile their ages to their attitudes, as they seem to gain at least fifty years between the former and the latter.

  10. 10
    Karin says:

    Update: I came across the book in a thrift shop, but probably would never have bought it if not for this review. I really enjoyed it, is everything Kate Hewitt writes this good?

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