Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Review of Lisa Kleypas' contemporary, Sugar Daddy

Lisa Kleypas’ Texas Series: A Wonderful Read From This Picky Critic

I’ve been writing and learning the craft and business of writing for twelve years. I’ve found that reading current, really good fiction books helps elevate my own writing, however it also seems to have had a hand in making me a rather harsh critic.

I have some very time-consuming hobbies and volunteer obligations, combine that with a large family and some good friends, and I don’t have make a lot of spare time to read, so when I do, it has to not only entertain me, but help inspire my writing. And I don’t often find books that do both, but recently I did. And I’m thrilled to stay up late at night, reading as slowly as I can make myself, savoring Lisa Kleypas’ contemporary series.

I first stumbled across Smooth Talking Stranger and was absolutely delighted to see that she’d written two books before that. Stellar writing combined with enchanting characters. I absolutely fell in love with her heroes.

Sugar Daddy is the first in the series, and with this beginning I fell deeper in love. This is where Lisa breaks all the rules and conventions. Her heroine doesn’t meet the hero until page 219. 219 of 371. 60% of the way through the book. How did that one get by the editor???? If this had been her first book, I wonder if that would have worked. Not that it bothered me, mind you, but romance writers know about those “rules”.

Personally, I hate the supposed rules. When people observe that I tend to think outside the box, my instinct is to ask, what box? So I love to see a writer break rules that probably shouldn’t exist in the first spot. I knew Lisa was a writer extraordinaire (at least to me) when I came across this one particular scene.

This scene was absolutely so powerful and perfect, I was shocked to discover that I’d actually shed a couple of tears. Now it could be that I am one of the few readers affected that way by this scene ‘cause the men in my life don’t apologize 90% of the time they’re in the wrong. Most of the time, they don’t even recognize that they were wrong—even if it is pointed out to them in a kind, respectful way.

But Gage did. In Sugar Daddy, Both he and his father handled the situation with great sensitivity, and they said and did everything exactly right. Even though Liberty overreacted a little, Gage and Churchill, recognized that they’d, completely unintentionally, usurped Liberty’s authority with her sister and in doing so, caused a rift between Liberty and her little sister she was raising.

They’d betrayed Liberty’s trust, scared her, and hurt her feelings. And it all had been done in total innocence. But Gage immediately acknowledged his mistake, made it right, and then further flagellated himself and defended Liberty’s reaction when she apologized for over reacting. What more could one ask for in a hero?

Gage did this all the while his father, Churchill, talked to Liberty’s little sister explaining things in an honest forthright manner that had the sister running to Liberty with an earnest apology. Wonderful. Just the healing outcome we all long for after a family/relationship squabble!

Lisa did a lot right in Blue-eyed Devil also. There were two areas that stood out in this reader’s mind. One demonstrated the power of sibling loyalty. No matter their disagreements, past hurts, or circumstances, Haven’s brothers always had her back. Unconditionally. That type of loyalty I can really appreciate.

What really stole this reader’s soul was encapsulated in the last couple pages of the story.

“I am touched by Hardy’s concern, his constant desire to be the man he thinks I deserve. Even when we disagree, I have no doubt that I am cherished. And respected. And I know that neither of us takes the other one for granted.”

What more could a woman want? My cynical inner voice wants to know if such a man really exists outside the pages of this book. Lisa has created such a vivid, realistic family that I want to believe so. I have to believe so.

“I have come to realize that you can never be truly happy unless you’ve known some sorrow. All the terrible things Hardy and I have gone through in our lives have created the spaces inside where happiness can live. Not to mention love. So much love that there doesn’t seem to be room for bitterness in either of us.”

Again, my cynical inner demon says, just wait until Haven and Hardy have been married awhile and stressed with kids and illness and things money can’t fix. But then, if you never begin a relationship with this solid base of love, respect, etc . . . what’s to see you through the hard times certain to come—besides stubbornness? Isn’t it a worthy goal to search and attain what Haven and Hardy achieved?

Obviously I think so, or I’d find these stories unrealistic and wouldn’t even want to pick up another one instead of wondering what Lisa has in store for Joe—the fourth Travis sibling. So sad there’s only one more Travis to journey with!

Give yourself a low-calorie treat and pick up Sugar Daddy today—or any of Lisa Kleypas’ books. It doesn’t really matter which order you read them in. Enjoy!

1 comment:

Donnell said...

Terrific review, Picky Reader. I love your call sign :)