RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge: The Tycoon’s Secret Daughter by Susan Meier

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Title: The Tycoon's Secret Daughter
Author: Susan Meier
Publication Info: Harlequin 2012
ISBN: 9780373178117
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Book The Tycoon's Secret Daughter This RITA® Reader Challenge 2013 review was written by Erica. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Short Contemporary Series category.

The summary:     

The CEO's second chance Max Montgomery had it all-charm, good looks and a career as CEO of the family business. Marriage to Kate Hunter was the icing on the cake. Until a devastating family secret sent his world-and then his marriage-crashing down around him…. 

Years later, Max is accidentally reunited with Kate, who also has a secret-the daughter he's never met! Bonding with adorable Trisha may come naturally, but with the shadows of the past still haunting him, recapturing the heart of the woman he's never stopped loving is quite a different matter….

And here is Erica's review:

I picked The Tycoon's Secret Daughter to review because the title sounded like it would lend itself to some glorious cracktasticness, and I've somehow managed to miss the crazysauce that Romancelandia can offer.

Alas, it was not to be. Instead of being full of epic craziness, it was just epically frustrating.

First and foremost, I want to say that this freaking book would have been improved dramatically if any of the characters took the advice that was all but bludgeoned into my skull. Don't live in the past. We shouldn't focus on the past, we should live for today. Oh, we need to not think about the past.

Holy friggin' crap, shut the hell up.

You'd think for as often as they preached about letting the past go, that ONE of the characters would have done so, but you, my dear Reader, would be WRONG.

And I get it, there's angst. There's drama. The heroine, Kate, left her alcoholic husband (Max, our hero) without telling him that she was pregnant because she was sick of his drunkenness, scared that he would escalate into real violence and hurt her or their child. Now, eight years later, he's learned about his daughter, and is trying to create a relationship with her. That's heavy shit. (And, consequently perhaps the only occasion where I can see the Secret Baby trope being remotely justified.)

That being said…

I really wanted to hit Kate, because every other page or so we heard about how Bad Max was. He can't be trusted. He was a drunk. He threw things. He can't be trusted because he's a “charmer” who talks her into things that she doesn't want to do. He broke her parents' vase. Did I mention that he can't be trusted?

AND SHE'S SAYING ALL OF THIS WHILE SHE LETS HIM HANG OUT WITH HER DAUGHTER.

Here's where I come down on this: either you accept the possibility that he's changed and is sober and a better man now, and that you can trust your daughter's feelings with him, and therefore you can trust your own feelings with him (if you still love him). Or if you really think he's THAT BAD, you throw everything you've got to keeping him away from your child. I don't care how much money he has and how many lawyers he's got, you fight tooth and nail to keep your daughter safe.

But while she makes this token “you're not allowed to be with Trisha without me” protective thing, she doesn't come off as very protective to me, by allowing this man that she practically thinks is the Devil Incarnate to get to know her child. UGH.

And let's talk about Trisha. Other than one incident where she's grumpy and blows Max off, she's The Perfect Child. She never questions why the hell she's never met her dad before, she never asks him where he's been. She smiles and welcomes him into her life immediately. I know she's young, but I still think a normal kid would have some questions.

I did really appreciate the fact that Max was wicked awkward the first time he hung out with his daughter. He asked a lot of questions about her, but seemed to be groping for conversation and was obviously way out of his depth, and that was cool to see. There was a part where he was trying to explain Kate's father's stroke to Trisha (who was worried about her sick grandpa), and we got to hear all his insecurity and worry about saying the wrong thing.

And then, after that scene, he's Super Dad, and does everything perfectly right, and we never see those insecurities and worries again, and it was so annoying. Because until that metamorphosis, I was kind of really feeling Max. He regretted his past, and he was mad at Kate for keeping him from his daughter, but after a little reflection, he understood her motivation, and never really freaked out on her. I kind of wish he had, because I think this book needed a big knock-down fight to work out all of the issues seething under the surface, but the fact that he understood why Kate had ran off and why she had kept him in the dark and that respected that decision, was kind of interesting.

But then he stops being a real three-dimensional character and is just Super Dad and New Changed Max, and I just got bored.

Then there was Max's family and The Reason Why He Started Drinking. Apparently Max had this adopted brother named Chance, only Chance was really the illegitimate son of Max's dad, and Max confronted Dad about it, and Chance overheard the conversation and ran away, never to be seen again, and Max became an alcoholic. Confused? Yeah, so was I. And seriously, that's about as clear as the damn thing got. And Max and Kate go find Chance, and Chance rides off, and I was just like, “WTF?! What is this doing here?!” I have come to the conclusion that it must be Sequel Bait, but it is the weakest story ever. And Max's mom is this insanely inconsistent character. She's an evil, vengeful bitch threatening to take Tricia away from Kate one minute, and then super-fun and awesome grandma the next. She orders Max to find Chance, then pours a whiskey and drinks it in front of him, like a completely insensitive, unaware bitch. (But seriously, why the hell does he have whiskey in his pool house anyway?! That was weird.)

So all of that sucked. But the thing that annoyed me the most, other than the constant harping on The Past, was the fact that I just didn't buy any if it. I didn't see their much-discussed chemistry. I felt like I was being told that there was chemistry between them, but I never really saw the proof of that. I didn't see them falling in love. They realized that they have both changed, and yay, and then that was kind of it. Oh, they wind up together (after this really bizarre argument and some super-terrible parental meddling), but I wasn't impressed.

And maybe it's a me problem. Maybe I just have issues with this length of story (although I have read some other short series that did work for me), but I didn't feel like there was enough space here to convince me that these characters changed and grew, and would be happy together. Maybe that’s because 80% of this book was full of characters obsessing about things that had happened before the story started. If they had had a big fight and worked out some of the past stuff, and MOVED ON, and then focused on what was happening in the present, maybe the story would have worked for me.

But instead, I found it whiny and filled with caricatures and inconsistent characters instead of real, breathing people. They are such cardboard cutouts that I originally wrote this review and had the wrong names for ALL OF THE CHARACTERS. A day after I read the book. (And I have a good memory.) But that’s just the problem – any name would work for any of these characters, because none of them are real people.

And if they’re not real people, then I just don’t care.


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  1. 1
    Iola says:

    Good review. Does beg the question of how this got nominated. Is it the best of a bad bunch? Is there something odd about the nomination process? Someone likes this troupe? It’s actually a competition for the most trite title/cover combination? Whatever. The book sounds like enough to drive anyone to drink.

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