So, I’m alive! I know, long time, no blog post. Life has a way of speeding by and with little bumps in my personal life (running + injuries = lots of time in PT), reviewing took a bit of back seat. I’ve still been reading but I’ve found myself in the biggest reading slump I’ve ever been in. Everything I’ve read over the past few months was just fine. Fine. There is NO worse word for a reviewer to think after finishing a book then that it was fine. Because writing a ‘fine’ review for every book means every review started to sound exactly the same. Now I have read a few winners recently, most notably the next Archangel’s Guild book by Nalini Singh (Naasir’s story!) is a must read. And possibly my most anticipated book in years is finally out in August, Joe Travis’s story in Brown Eyed Girl by Lisa Kleypas. That book and the Travis series is what brought me back to the blog. It’s hands down my most re-read series ever, with book 2 Blue Eyed Devil being the book I’ve read more than any other. We all have that book, the one that we picked up randomly one day and read and the stars aligned because it’s the exact story that we needed at the exact right time. For me, it’s Blue Eyed Devil (BED). The story itself isn’t all the complicated or complex, although it does deal with domestic abuse, so the storyline is a little heavier than in the others books. But Kleypas has a way with words and she especially has a way of writing southern, Texan heroes that makes me fall in love. Fall in love with the hero and heroine. Fall in love with the setting and years ago when I first picked up BED, it made me fall in love with contemporary romance and changed my book life.
With the upcoming release of Brown Eyed Girl, the last in the Travis series, quickly approaching, I did another series reread, cover to cover starting with Sugar Daddy. While I’m not going to review each book, as I was reading the stories, new things popped out and maybe it’s because I’ve been reading a lot of stinkers lately, but these books for me have stood the test of time and still come out on top of all of the other hundreds of books I’ve read. With that, here’s part 1 of a 4-part posting series with the book that started it all, Sugar Daddy.
Sugar Daddy introduces us to the powerful and insanely rich Travis family. Oldest son Gage, his half-siblings Jack, Joe and Haven and their father Churchill. We also meet our heroine Liberty and the boy her teenage heart fell in love with Hardy Cates. With the story being told from Liberty’s POV, and starting out with her as a young teen, we see all her struggles and the place Hardy has in her life, being her protector in their trailer park in the poor town of Welcome, Texas. Hardy goes off to make something of himself, crushing Liberty’s heart into a million pieces. But when her mother dies suddenly, Liberty becomes the mom to her infant sister Carrington and grows up fast. She finds work in a salon, she becomes friends with Churchill Travis and through that friendship she meets Gage – who hates Liberty from the start. Of course that just makes their romance all the sweeter, seeing Gage fall for her page by page.
The span of three or four minutes is pretty insignificant in the scheme of things. People lose hundreds of minutes everyday, squandering them on trivial things. But sometimes in those fragments of time, something can happen you'll remember the rest of your life.
When I first read Sugar Daddy, I was SO invested in Hardy as Liberty’s hero. He gets a huge chunk of page time, the first half of the book and we don’t even meet Gage until the second half. That’s a slight annoyance, Gage deserved more page time, but it’s a small blip in an otherwise addicting story. But Gage makes the most of the time he does get on page and he’s hard to resist. When the ever-dependable and often brooding Gage gets laid up with the flu and has no one in his life to help him, Liberty’s big heart can’t say no and she goes to him. Their relationship changes after that one visit and I went from being completely pro Liberty & Hardy to Gage all the way. There’s just something about seeing this larger than life, successful businessman, who’s hard and tough around the edges, brought to his knees by a woman he can’t live without. And sure Hardy has to come back to rock the boat but by that time I was completely in love with Gage and Liberty and their romance that gained steam with every page.
While we learn all about the bigger than life Travis family, this was Liberty's story to tell. I loved being able to follow Liberty first as a young teen growing up in the dirt poor small town of Welcome. Watching as her mother made mistake after mistake with the men in life, and then becoming pregnant with Liberty's young sister Carrington. Liberty then takes on the role of mom to Carrington, even though she's still a teen and needs her own mother, who dies in a car wreck not long after Carrington is born. We see her struggle to make ends meet, but she wants so much more out of life not only for herself but for Carrington. With some help she never realized she was getting, she goes to beauty school, gets a steady job, meets Churchill and her life is never the same after that meeting. I absolutely loved seeing Liberty's life play out, seeing the strong woman she becomes and seeing her finally find love and happiness with a man she never saw coming. She's a memorable heroine and in a series filled with strong Texan heroes who take over the minute they come on page, Liberty held her own and her story is one that I'll never forget.
“What are you thinking?" he [Gage] asks.
I [Liberty] know Gage hates it when I cry - he is completely undone by the sight of tears - so I blink hard against the sting. "I'm thinking how thankful I am for everything," I say, "even the bad stuff. Every sleepless night, every second of being lonely, every time the car broke down, every wad of gum on my shoe, every late bill and losing lottery ticket and bruise and broken dish and piece of burnt toast."
His voice is soft. "Why, darlin'?"
"Because it all led me here to you.”
Sugar Daddy was my introduction to this powerful family and to a strong heroine that I loved getting to know in Liberty. And it served as a great introduction to Hardy, being able to see the childhood he pulled himself up from and it lends itself as a great lead in to Blue Eyed Devil, book 2 in the series and my absolute favorite book, period.
(to be continued...)