10 Rated Books Book Reviews Lisa Kleypas week

Lisa Kleypas Week – Book Review: Blue-Eyed Devil

Title: Blue-Eyed Devil

Author: Lisa Kleypas

Genre: Romance (contemporary), Fiction

Stand alone or series: Second book in the Travis’ series by Kleypas

Summary: “Blue-Eyed Devil” is the story of the charming, volatile and ambitious Hardy Cates, who is determined to carry out his private revenge against the Travis family. Haven is the rebellious Travis daughter who struggles against her overpowering attraction to the most dangerous man in town. But when Hardy crashes a Travis family wedding, the heiress and the bad boy uncover an explosive chemistry that neither of them can deny. Hardy Cates is an unscrupulous rascal, but now he’s trying to clean up his act. He is looking for the perfect society wife, the kind of woman Haven Travis could never be. Having once been burned by a love affair gone wrong, Haven vows to stay far away from the sexy heartbreaker. However, Haven discovers that the temptation of a blue-eyed devil is hard to resist. And then when a menace from Haven’s past appears, Hardy may be the only one to save her…

Why did I read the book: Because of the sheer amount of positive reviews.

Review:

I was caught completely unawares by Blue-Eyed Devil. I fully expected it to be a good read – it is a Lisa Kleypas after all – but wasn’t prepared for when it turned out to be an amazing book and one that has become one of my favourite romance novels of all time.

This is the story of Haven Travis, told in first person point of view. It begins at her brother’s wedding party – Gage, who is getting married to Liberty Jones, heroine of Sugar Daddy. Haven is attending the wedding with her fiancée Nick but at the reception she can’t help but to notice this guy, this guy with incredible blue eyes. By accident they end up at the dark cellar where Haven mistakenly assumes he is Nick and they end up kissing passionately. She then learns that not only he is not Nick but he is Hardy Cates, the guy who tried to come between Gage and Liberty in Sugar Daddy and who has crashed the reception to tease his enemy. He is invited to leave and we don’t see more of Hardy until much later in the book.

Haven proceeds to marry Nick, against her family’s will and ends up cut off and stranded. Haven starts her life with Nick innocently believing that love conquers all. What comes next in the story was very hard to read. For the next two years, her life is turned upside down when it’s clear that Nick is an abusive husband. Not one of those that are outright violent – at least not at first – but one that, with subtlety, reinforced by a strong personality, shapes Haven’s according to his needs. Little by little, Haven is stripped of her own self, loses her personality and becomes a shadow of her former self. We learn later that Nick has a personality disorder and at that point in time, Haven submits to a relationship where there is no room for dissension; where there is no room for her true self. It was a very difficult relationship to read about – my innards were twisted in agony for Haven and for that feeling of having a destiny you think you cannot escape from. Until something horrid happens, and beaten up and shattered to pieces, with the help of her brothers Gage and Jack, Haven is finally able to get away, to get a divorce and to start over.

Haven begins the story too young, too sheltered and innocent being then catapulted into adulthood and into a harsh reality that messed up with her sense of self-worth and self-preservation. It is a painful, slow journey to recovery for Haven. She needs to re-connect with herself, mind, body and soul. To re-discover who she is, what she likes, to find a job, to reunite with her family, her brothers, undergoing therapy sessions that felt very realistic and finding a new footing in life. And of course, finding true love with a wonderful man helps immensely.

And this is when we break away from romance hell to romance heaven. For Hardy comes back to her life, again by accident. They meet at a bar and they are both reminded of that heated encounter which neither was able to forget. Hardy starts a relentless campaign to date her and at first she is not prepared to get into a new relationship. But Hardy is ever so gentle, patient and the cave woman in me needs to come out and say it: he is also too hot for words.

I was trying to come up with a way to describe Hardy when it hit me like lightening: give or take a few differences, Hardy is a contemporary Derek Craven. A self-made, ambitious man, coming from the gutter, becoming a millionaire and doing anything to get the obstacles out of the way. Raised by an abusive, criminal father, he also has that sense of not being worthy of his heroine. In the end, for a fleeting moment,
there is a near miss into Big Misunderstanding arena avoided at the eleventh hour by a hero that is able to say “I am sorry, I was wrong” and a heroine who is capable of seeing through the barriers he has raised.

And this is where I say Lisa Kleypas is an amazing writer: because she was brave enough to address something new – to write, realistic and graphically, about an abusive relationship and a personality disorder that is more common than any of us would like to think and to give it a fair take: the abuser is a sick person and the abused is not to be judged for enduring it; whilst at the same time being capable of taking one of the biggest clichés of romance as a genre, a too hot-too strong-almost alpha male-millionaire and turn him into a believably real man. For all that he is a staple romance hero he is also the catalyst to mend Haven’s broken soul with his openness, his gentle care and one hero that is fully opened to be mended in return. Does love conquer all? No, I am too cynical to believe that but Blue-Eyed Devil makes me wish I would.

Blue-Eyed Devil, in my most humble opinion is one of those books that begs to be taken from its niche (contemporary) within a distinct genre (romance) and be hailed simply as: literature.

Notable quotes/Parts: So many parts worth quoting: the elevator scene when Hardy is the first person Haven thinks of calling for help and how he came to the rescue; the fact that he went into murderous mood at the sight of someone hurting her. I loved to read about the slow progress of their relationship, how they started to spend more and more together, immersed in conversation. One such talk went like this:

Hardy:

“Ever since I can remember, I wanted to get somewhere, be someone. I’d see other sons of bitches who had it all – an expensive car, a big house, a beautiful woman. And I told myself, “Fuck’em. Someday I’ll have it all too, and I’ll be happy’” His mouth twisted. “but the past couple of years, I finally got the things I wanted, and it wasn’t enough. I was still a miserable bastard. When I’m with you though….”
“What” I prompted.
“When I am with you, I feel like I finally have what I need. I can relax and be happy”

Haven grows up:

I no longer believed in the idea of soul mates, or love at first sight. But I was beginning to believe that a very few times in your life, if you were lucky, you might meet someone who was exactly right for you. Not because he was perfect, or because you were, but because your combined flaws were arranged in a way that allowed two separate beings to hinge together.

A celebration for Haven, leaving the past behind:

His love came with no strings attached, which I thought was the greatest gift one human being could give to another.
“you know”, (….) “I am just as much me when I’m with you, as I am without you”

Additional Thoughts: sometimes it can be frustrating to read first person narratives, especially when there is a hero one would love to learn more about. “What is Hardy thinking” was my mantra whilst reading BED and then I found this: Lisa Kleypas’ special post at Romance Novel TV where she publishes the first encounter between Hardy and Haven from his point of view. Go forth and read it!

Verdict: One of the best books I have read, romance novel or not. Hardy Cates is tied with another hero (whom you will learn all about in November) as my favourite hero of 2008.

Rating: 10 – Blue-Eyed Devil has made it into my top 10 reads of 2008. (only two spots left now).

Reading next: Seduce me at Sunrise by Lisa Kleypas.

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18 Comments

  • MK/Kati
    September 23, 2008 at 11:33 am

    Dagnabit! I had a whole really looong response written and stupid Blogger at it.

    Terrific review, really! I loved it.

    This is my favorite read of 2008 too. And probably my favorite Kleypas of all time.

    The scenes between Haven and Nick are so incredibly painful to read. It’s the first book in a long time that literally had me sobbing as I read it. That last encounter before she leaves him is so vividly painted and awful. And Haven’s reaction and horror at it is just exactly how I’d imagine myself reacting.

    My favorite scene is actually the very last one in the book, where Haven realizes that Hardy cherishes her utterly, despite all her flaws. What an evolution of character! It’s just a stupendously well written book.

    Wonderful review!

  • little alys
    September 23, 2008 at 11:41 am

    Is it bad that I want to cry just by reading your review? I heart Lisa Kleypas.

  • Dev
    September 23, 2008 at 11:44 am

    This is one of my favorite reads of 2008. I absolutely love Hardy and Haven.

    Great review!

  • Katiebabs
    September 23, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    There is no words to explain what this book means to me. My favorite contemporary romance of all time.
    What Haven goes through is so powerful and hits closer to home.
    And Hardy is sex on a stick.

  • Cheri2628
    September 23, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    I love Lisa Kleypas, but I have only read her historicals. It sounds like I need to try out her contemporaries, too!

  • Aymless
    September 23, 2008 at 12:44 pm

    Dang it all… now I have to get this book too! You guys are getting as bad as KB/Kristie when putting dents in my book budget (back to budgeting *sigh*). At least I already own Sugar Daddy!

  • Ana
    September 23, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    MK: Thanks! I cried a lot when I was reading their scenes too. I can only but imagine how hard must have it been to Lisa Kleypas to write it.

    Alys – nope, cause I was teary when I writing it! LOL.

    Dev – thanks! a lot of people list this book as their favorite of 2008. what a winner!

    Katie – I know where you are coming from! and yes, Hardy is so droolworthy. LK writes the best heroes!

    Cheri – it took me some time to go from historicals to contemps and I do not regret it!

    aymless – sorry! ; )

  • Marg
    September 23, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    I don’t really read contemporaries myself, but it must be a sign of my LK adoration that I read these books without question, and love them!

  • Kristie (J)
    September 23, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    This quote you used really ‘gets’ me every time I read it
    “But I was beginning to believe that a very few times in your life, if you were lucky, you might meet someone who was exactly right for you. Not because he was perfect, or because you were, but because your combined flaws were arranged in a way that allowed two separate beings to hinge together.”
    That is so how I felt about Ron and this book touched me in the deepest part of me. I knew it would be a special book anyway – and when I saw the dedication page – well – beyond words. But when I read it I was totally blown away. It’s not only my favourite book of 2008, it’s now one of my favourite books of all time.

  • orannia
    September 23, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    Like katiebabs, words fail me. Sometimes, if you’re really lucky, you read a book that speaks to the heart of you and Blue-Eyed Devil (BED) did just that to me. A book that explains (so well) exactly how you feel (and makes you realise that you aren’t mad)…priceless!

    I hope I one day get the chance to tell Lisa Kleypas exactly how much reading that book meant to me!

    orannia

    PS And I’m with Kristie, the following quote really gets to me too:

    I no longer believed in the idea of soul mates, or love at first sight. But I was beginning to believe that a very few times in your life, if you were lucky, you might meet someone who was exactly right for you. Not because he was perfect, or because you were, but because your combined flaws were arranged in a way that allowed two separate beings to hinge together.

  • Pam P
    September 23, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    Also in my Top Ten for the year, and I’m not normally into many contemporary romances. I had the same thought about Hardy as I got into the book, he reminded me of my other favorite Kleypas hero, Derek Craven.

  • Sarah
    September 23, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    I agree with something you said. When I read Sugar Daddy I thought to myself that Lisa Kleypas just blew right past any other that I was into and catapulted to my favorite. The way that she captured what it is to be poor was so real and so absolutely raw that I felt like there wasn’t a single person who struggled to get by that wouldn’t relate to Liberty.

    I bought the book for a friend who doesn’t read romance much and she emailed me to say that when she was reading it, she almost cried because someone was vocalizing the utter truth of her day to day life. Lisa Kleypas made a fan that day. She truly is remarkable. I love this Lisa Kleypas week!

  • M.
    September 23, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    Given the gross tonnage of books you two go through, a spot in the top ten is worth noting. But I’m still hesitant because of how ‘meh’ the last two Kleypas reads of mine were.

  • Dev
    September 23, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    m. ~ You honestly need to read these. Start with Sugar Daddy and then go right to BED. They are both such good stories ~ BED was so powerful, it really was.

  • Lisa Kleypas
    September 24, 2008 at 8:08 am

    Dear Ana and other friends (and hello Kristie sweetie!!!)

    I am just incredibly moved by this review and these comments . . .

    In an emotional sense, Blue Eyed Devil was the most difficult book I’ve ever written . . . I think in the interview later in the week we covered a couple of the reasons why. But it has been an amazing experience because of the connection I felt to so many women who have confided in me that they have experienced the kind of bullying/manipulations/outright abuse that Haven Travis goes through.

    And I think and hope that some of the information in the book was helpful for some readers . . . you would be amazed how many times I heard the comments “but a rich woman would never allow herself to be abused” or “why didn’t she just leave?” . . . because unless you’ve been there, you just can’t understand the dynamics of abuse or how much an abuser can erode all your strength and self-esteem.

    One of the experts I consulted told me that most abused wives have no more ability to leave than a young child would have to leave his or her home. It has nothing to do with the victim’s intelligence or morality or anything like that . . . it’s a mental prison that the abuser creates.

    The joyful part of the book for me was when Hardy arrives back on the scene. Ana, I so agree–he is very much like a modern Derek Craven! I just loved the idea that this macho, sexy, very flawed man would want so badly to connect with Haven and try so hard to understand her. I knew only a very strong man would have the patience and persistence to get through to her.

    Here’s something I don’t think I’ve told anyone before: the elevator scene took place because I had read about that event happening in real life several years ago, in Houston, where a poor woman actually died under those exact circumstances. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and wondering if a real-life rescue might have been possible, and under what circumstances. So I called an elevator company and examined various kinds of elevator design, and came up with the scenario with Hardy and Haven.

    Maybe that gives some insight into the where-do-you-get-your-ideas question . . . although this is not an elegant analogy, it’s rather like accumulating lint on your coat, all these little ideas sticking to you until finally you pick them off and do something with them. LOL!

    Thank you for this beautiful review and for these wonderful thoughts you’ve all shared 🙂

  • Ciara
    September 24, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    This review makes me want to go back and reread it, because it is such a wonderful book!

  • Christine
    September 26, 2008 at 5:45 am

    Hi Ana,
    We’ve exchanged some thoughts on this novel by email a few times, so you know how much I love this book. Just by reading your review, I’ve been flooded with similar emotions that overwhelmed me upon reading BED back in March. Don’t feel badly, about that, though. I just wanted you to know how well written your review and how well you pointed out the things that make this novel as amazing as it is.

    Lisa,
    BED is a phenomenal novel and has affected my immensely on a personal level. Thank you for writing such a powerful story and sharing the truths about the abuse that occurs in relationships with someone who has a personality disorder like Nick’s.

    Shoot. And there I go crying again.

    I can’t wait for Smooth Talking Stranger! 😉 <–smiling through tears.

  • Blue-Eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas « Janicu’s Book Blog
    July 3, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    […] Other reviews: Let’s just say this book swept the board. Book Binge gave it a 4.75 out of 5 The Book Smugglers – It got a 10 The Good, the Bad, and the Unread – gave it an A+ Ramblings on Romance […]

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