This book caught my attention because it promised an agnsty, lovers-reunited story. It delivered that and more.
When Zoe was little, her less-than-stellar mother died in an accident and she was left in the care of a grandfather that was emotionally distant and too engrossed in his work as a winemaker to pay much attention to her. As consequence, she became the town’s bad-girl, known for her disregard of authority and her shoplifting tendencies. Hugh, the boy next door, was the only one who truly saw her, something that, along with the fact that their families were historical enemies and competitors, made for the perfect recipe for star-crossed lovers. As you can probably guess, things didn’t end well for anyone involved and Zoe left tow with plans of never coming back.
Ten years later, he grandfather’s illness and subsequent death, forces her to return to bury him and settle his affairs, including bottling the last wine he made and figure out what to do with the winery. Zoe isn’t the same broken girl desperate for attention, now she’s a renowned winemaker famous for her talent and her inability to remain in one place. But she’s also haunted by a past that’s more complicated that anyone could imagine, a past she hasn’t been able to let go, even if she doesn’t realize it. When she reunites with Hugh, she realizes that coming back means confronting what happened all those years ago, as well as her feelings towards the town, her grandfather and Hugh. Will she be able to do it? Of course she will (it’s a Romance, remember?), the real question is how.
Zoe was a conflicted character who never quite managed to move on from what happened to her. Growing up with an irresponsible mother and being left in the care of a grandfather dealing with his own grief and inadequacies, marked her character and transformed her into an insecure girl who never outgrew that need for attention and love. She just transformed the way she showed said need. She went from an attention-seeking bad-girl, to an emotionally closed up woman. When she comes back she also reaches her breaking point. I didn’t find her particularly likeable, yet she was very sympathetic and compelling. Even though I was at times exasperated by her attitude and found her somewhat childish, I understood where she was coming from.
Hugh was a good hero and his control was the perfect balance for Zoe’s emotional instability. I liked how he reacts to all the twists and turns. It also helps that the big revelation happens early on in the book, which gives everyone in the story an emotional journey and time to deal with it. Granted, Hugh spends more time trying to make Zoe open up and discuss what happened than interiorizing how he feels about it, but by the end of the book I think they both were in a good emotional place to start over.
In His Eyes is a sad story. I felt sorry for every character at least once. It’s a book about two people clearly meant to be together who were kept apart by circumstances, mistakes, miscommunication and grudges. I liked it very much, and I think you will too.
Note: the paperback releases tomorrow, but you can get the e-book now.
Review by Brie
What if everything he thinks about her is wrong?
Hugh Lawson and Zoe Waters have a tangled history. But she left ten years ago and he's put her behind him. Except she's here again-just when Hugh's ready to make an offer for her family's legendary vineyard. And her version of those long ago events is enough to make him question everything he thought he knew.
Hugh can't let the past destroy his plans for the future. Which means he has to unravel the truth. But as he does, he begins to realize that he may have been as responsible for what happened as Zoe. And that going back could be the only way to move forward.
Harlequin. August 7, 2012