SUGAR DADDY by Lisa Kleypas
I was going to hold my review for a couple of days, but it turns out that today is Lisa Kleypas day at Sybil's site The Good, the Bad and the Unread. So it seemed like the right time to post my review. Be sure to go over and check out what's going on at Sybil's. There are sure to be lots of Kleypas fans and other cool stuff.
Like everyone else who has enjoyed Lisa Kleypas' historicals I was wondering why she would switch to contemporarys and at the same time have it come out in hardcover? While I do consider myself a fan, I can't say I've loved every book Ms. Kleypas has written. So it begs the question why I would buy a hardcover contemporary doesn't it?
First of all with my Barnes and Noble discount and the book being on sale I ended up paying less for it than a trade paperback, which I've purchased with a whole lot less to recommend them than mostly good track record I have with Lisa Kleypas books.
Secondly, I have to admit I was hooked in by the cover blurb. I did read a couple of excerpts on line as well. I went back and forth but justified the go ahead to purchase when the price was discounted.
When I started this 371 page book for some reason I thought it was going to be an easy and quick read sort of like Eve Plum books by Evanovich are for me. I have no idea why I thought this except when I browsed the book I saw that each chapter started with a half page of justified paragraphs. Let me just say this isn't a breezy sort of easy read at all. I was happily surprised to find myself being more engrossed and drawn into Liberty's saga than I expected.
Here's a summary from RT:
Liberty Jones grew up in trailer-park poverty in rural Texas, the child of a widowed mother with a mysterious past and a current string of no-good boyfriends. But young Liberty is smart, determined and willing to work hard to make her dreams come true. She’s inexplicably drawn to Hardy Cates, the boy down the street who forever claimed her heart at age 13. But he too has ambitions, and they take him out of town and away from Liberty.
Soon alone and with a young sister to raise, Liberty finds herself in the big city, slowly growing up and piecing her life together.
I have to say that I was sometimes confused by the twists and turns this story took. Some of them were interesting, some of them made me feel like Ms. Kleypas was uncertain and didn't know herself what direction she wanted her characters to go. While this caused me to wrinkle my brow a time or two it didn't take me out of the story.
One of the things I liked best about the book was the struggle Liberty and her family endure. It made me wonder if Ms. Kleypas has ever felt the pinch and worry of empty kitchen cabinets without enough gas for the car to get to work. Having lived through those things for brief periods of time myself, I was brought back to my fearful past. It's pretty difficult to relate that sort of paralyzing fear without some experience or story having touched you personally. It's hard to relate to another person how it feels to look into the future and know you have to "hold on", pray that nothing goes wrong so you can dig yourself out of a hole or turn things around. Like I said, having been there I was touched by how accurately Ms. Kleypas captured those scary feelings.
Which brings me to one of the things I wasn't so happy with. Liberty receives help, assistance or a boost at very convenient and fortuitous times. Ms. Kleypas masks these well in the story telling but any discerning reader will see right through them.
I also had some issue with some of the choices the characters made that didn't seem appropriate to me as well as one character change or character reveal that didn't seem to go with my understanding of the character to that point in the story.
I'm speaking of course about Hardy Cates. What is revealed about his character or lack thereof at the end of the book did not reconcile for me with the Hardy we met as a young man. Yes, he leaves to pursue his personal goals, but the fact that he took such good care of his family, helped out Liberty's family and others in the trailer park, and didn't take advantage of Liberty's youthful love and devotion says something about his character that I don't think can go away in pursuit of his goals. I felt this to be particularly true because he is a young man himself at the time. In many other romance novels his treatment of Liberty, by leaving, would be seen as the ultimate act of love and sacrifice. It was difficult for me to believe that Hardy became so jaundiced on his journey to success that he would become as cold a user as Gage describes him to Liberty after the two men meet.
I was excited by the prospect that Liberty would have this choice between these two dynamic men who both impacted her life so dramatically. I thought there was enough in the story about the two men without adding a hard edge to Hardy to make her choice more clear cut to the reader.
Even with the blips I spoke of above, I was unable to put this book down. I enjoy reading a book that follows a character from childhood to adulthood. This interior POV about what shapes that person and their choices is one I thoroughly get into.
The last third of the book is the best part when we get to see Liberty as a young adult raising a child trying to make the right choices and decisions not only for her little sister but for her own life as well. It's not a big book about a big life (rich people notwithstanding) it's a story about choices. I liked it and, obviously from this long review, have been thinking about it since I read it.
Thanks to Sybil I went to Ms. Kleypas' site and was able to read an excerpt for a historical she is writing titled MINE TIL MIDNIGHT which is scheduled to be her next release. This is the story of Cam Rohan that Kleypas' fans have been waiting for.
Speaking of fans...if you haven't heard the news, one of Ms. Kleypas' biggest fans, Kristie(j) got a surprise package. I first read about it at Dear Author on Monday and had to go check it out. Kudos to Ms. Kleypas for recognizing a fan. You couldn't have chosen a more perfect or grateful recipient.