Lisa Kleypas – “Sugar Daddy”

12 Sep

GENRE: Romance / Contemporary
PUBLISHED: St. Martin’s Paperbacks, 2008

WHY THIS NOVEL: I wanted to read a straight contemporary romance and this one got a lot of good reviews.

The back blurb:
“She’s from the wrongs side of the tracks
Liberty Jones has dreams and determination that will take her away from Welcome, Texas – if she can keep her wild heart from ruling her mind. Hardy Cates sees Liberty as completely off-limits. His own ambitions are bigger than Welcome, and Liberty is a complication he doesn’t need. But something magical and potent draws them to each other, in a dangerous attraction that is stronger than either of the.

He’s the one man she can’t have
When Hardy leaves town to pursue his plans, Liberty finds herself alone with a young sister to raise. Soon Liberty is under the spell of a billionaire tycoon – a Sugar Daddy, one might say. But the relationship goes deeper than people think, and Liberty begins to discover secrets about her own family’s past.

Will they find their hearts desires – or will the heartbreak tear them apart?
Two men. One woman. A choice that can make her or break her. A woman you’ll root for every step of the way. A love story you’ll never forget.”

To give you an idea were I’m coming from: of the three novels I read by Kleypas so far, one I liked very much, one was a good/okay read, and one absolutely didn’t work for me. I thought about reading her Wallflower series, but because of my mixed reaction to her novels so far, I always decided against it. When I heard that she wrote a contemporary romance, I couldn’t really imagine it; Kleypas was so much an author of historical romance in my eyes. But thanks to my strong hankering for straight contemporary romances for the last couple of weeks I found out how wrong I was.

Let me start by saying that I really really like Kleypas’s contemporary voice, that I loved Sugar Daddy and think it’s a beautifully written novel. I loved the way Kleypas wrote about the characters’ emotions, and I thought it a warm, poignant and wise novel. For example, I liked this bit:

And I finally understood what Miss Marva had said about living by your own lights. When you’re walking through the darkness, you can’t depend on anything or anyone else to light your way. You have to rely on whatever sparks you’ve got inside you. Or you’re going to get lost. That was what had happened to Mama. (p. 150)

The story begins with Liberty’s and her mother’s move to a trailer park in Welcome, Texas. There Liberty meets Hardy and I really liked the way Kleypas wrote this part, her falling in love and her emotions. But Hardy is ambitious, and a few years later, even though he’s in love with Liberty too (but they never were a couple), he leaves Welcome and Liberty.

For the next years, or better – throughout the novel, Liberty tries to come to terms with Hardy’s leaving and her love for him. All the men she meets, she compares with him, and they come up short. And then, when it finally looks like she has found another man she could fall in love with, Hardy shows up and Liberty’s decision is really put to the test. Again she squestion herself if she’s really over Hardy, if she or he changed too much to pick up where they left (not that they ever were a couple), or if they still have what they had. Both the men in her life are not happy about the situation, but they also know it’s Liberty’s decision to make and that it takes some time. Let me just say that the man Liberty realizes she loves (more) shows his love for and trust in Liberty in a way you don’t see often in a romance novel, IMO. *sigh*

But then, I don’t see Sugar Daddy as a conventional contemporary romance novel, because it does two things you normally don’t see there: the hero and the heroine spent long parts of the novel apart from each other; the second one is too much of a spoiler so I can’t say more. It’s also narrated in first person by Liberty and it follows her life from her early teenage years in a trailer park to her mid-twenties (I think) as owner of a big house (actually a ranch) of her own. I didn’t have a problem with that, and there is plenty enough romance in the story, but because of all that, I think of Sugar Daddy as rather a women’s fiction novel. Really, this is so much Liberty’s story that I have difficulties seeing it as a straight romance where IMO the focus is firmly on the romance and the couple’s relationship. And in the end, what does it really matter? Sugar Daddy is a really good novel and that’s all that counts, IMO.

Tiny nit-pickings:

– one of the main characters comes close to being used as a plot device at the end
– compared to the beginning in a trailer park, the ending in so much luxury came fairly close to too fairy-tale-like for my tastes
– there are hints of chemistry = love / love = chemistry (and that’s a shortcut I don’t think is necessary)

When does Blue Eyed Devil come out in paperback?

Would I recommend this novel? Yes.

Would I read this novel again? Yes.

Grade: 5 – / 5


7 Responses to “Lisa Kleypas – “Sugar Daddy””

  1. Christine Friday, September 12, 2008 at 7:29 pm #

    Oh, Taja. Wasn’t this such an amazing novel? I absolutely loved it. I agree with you that this novel was so more woman’s fiction with romantic elements than a straight romance. Wait until you read Blue Eyed Devil. Not sure when it is coming out in paperback. I would guess in February/March 2009 because the next hardcover comes out March 2009 and will be the Jack Travis’ story. I can’t wait!!!

  2. Kristie(J) Friday, September 12, 2008 at 11:35 pm #

    When I first found out that Lisa Kleypas was a) writing a contemporary b) writing in first person c) writing more of a women’s fiction and d) writing a love triangle – if it were any other author, I would have been horrified. As it was, I was……concerned.
    But she pulled of Sugar Daddy with flying colours!! I loved it. I loved Liberty’s voice and her outlook on life. This was a fiver for me too.
    And at the risk of making you howl in frustration, Blue Eyed Devil is even better – and I don’t know how you can get better than a five – but she does.
    Alas, I don’t know when it will come out in pb.

  3. Taja Saturday, September 13, 2008 at 11:13 am #

    Christine – I knew that many liked it a lot, but I still was totally surprised and blown away by how much I liked Sugar Daddy! *laugh*
    I checked amazon, and there it’s listed for March 2009, so your guess looks right. It’ll probably be 2010 *gulp* when I read Jack’s story! (No. No looking at the year. That’s bad for you, Taja!) 😉

    Kristie – I only knew a) and just that gave me pause! But Kleypas is one of the few who really pulled it off and in a very impressive way at that.
    Leaving my tiny nit-pickings aside, I think one reason why Sugar Daddy ended up with 5- is that (nearly) everyone says that Blue Eyed Devil is even better. Not fair, I know, but that’s the problem with and the price I pay for reading books later than everyone else, I think.
    “Howl in frustration” – *snort* I like that (and so close to the truth)! I don’t want to think about what I’ll do when I look at the publishing date (pb) for Jack’s story for too long. 😉

  4. Carolyn Jean Saturday, September 13, 2008 at 4:58 pm #

    Thanks for the review! I just read this – my first contemporary! And it did seem a bit like women’s fiction, but I didn’t have anything to compare it to. But wow, I really loved it.

  5. Taja Saturday, September 13, 2008 at 8:11 pm #

    Carolyn Jean – congrats to reading your first contemporary. 🙂 And: what a great way to start reading them!

    (Is there anybody who absolutely didn’t like this novel?)

  6. Stacy ~ Sunday, September 14, 2008 at 1:00 am #

    I seriously loved this book. I was nervous about Lisa writing a contemporary, but it was needless. This story was absolutely wonderful, as was BED.

  7. Taja Sunday, September 14, 2008 at 9:42 am #

    Hi Stacy – it seems nearly everyone got a bit nervous when they heard about LK’s change in sub-genre… *laugh* So it’s doubly wonderful that it turned out so well. And another thumbs up for BED – good to hear.

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