Having read Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas and being desperate for more good romance to read, I went and got her other two Travis family books from the library. It’s what always happens to me with a Kleypas series. She really does have the most scrumptious men in romance. Scrumptious men and sexy smolder, those are her by-words. I adore Courtney Milan and she is the best author currently publishing historicals, but have I re-read all my favourite Kleypas novels more times than I am willing to admit.
All three books in the Travis series, Sugar Daddy, Blue-Eyed Devil, Smooth Talking Stranger, are told in the first person from the heroine’s perspective. Normally, romance has an omniscient narrator so the frame of reference flips back and forth between the two main characters. The single viewpoint means that one sees the object of affection exclusively as he presents himself to the female lead. It makes each novel her story as opposed to “theirs” and this is appropriate given that each of the heroines has a rather fraught history.
Sugar Daddy opens with a prolonged biographical section narrated by the heroine, Liberty Jones, starting when she is just 14 years old. She is raised in a trailer park and finds herself a single mother for spoilery reasons I won’t explain here. Liberty builds a life for her little family and a lot of time is given to her back-story and her struggles to establish herself with a career in a hair salon. The hero, tall, intense, self-contained Gage Travis, doesn’t even appear until after page 200. He is the son of one of Liberty’s salon clients, an older man everyone assumes is the sugar daddy of the title. Liberty has developed a sincere friendship with Mr. Travis, Sr. and is hired to look after him after an accident leaves him temporarily wheelchair bound. Gage is not impressed, but he is attracted to Liberty, so things proceed in an orderly romance novelesque fashion.
A portion of Liberty’s Sugar Daddy back-story is given to her first love, local boy Hardy Cates. He reappears in Blue-Eyed Devil as the eponymous cerulean-irised dreamboat and enters the life of Gage’s sister, Haven. The youngest Travis begins her story by escaping an abusive marriage. As is usually the case, her ex-husband does not go quietly and reappears to cause her trouble. Kleypas conveys Haven’s struggles with confusion, defiance, and fear very well. Hardy comes in quite soon after the bad break up and his already contentious relationship with the Travis family is tested further by his association with their beloved sister/daughter.
Haven has a lot of issues to sort through and Hardy is very supportive and patient, but still crystal clear on where he wants things to end up. He has a harrowing history of his own underneath all of his ambition and charm, the two fit together nicely even in terms of their personal demons. Unlike, Smooth Talking Stranger which featured Captain Perfect Hero, both Sugar Daddy and Blue-Eyed Devil featured characters who were flawed but fit together well, and, as always, Kleypas’s heroes are extremely attractive men, although I did not especially like Gage, in particular the fact that he had Liberty followed at one point.
I have read so many Lisa Kleypas romances that I unintentionally started comparing these characters to her historical heroes and heroines. The books are not repetitive, but the author’s style is consistent, thus as someone who loves her romances I enjoy the familiarity at the same time as I am unavoidably overlapping the leads in my head.
A complete summary of Lisa Kleypas’s catalogue, with recommendations, can be found here.