My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Okay. How to write this review without the whole thing turning into a Hardy Cates droolfest. It's going to be very hard, because I love the man!
One Upon a Time, There was a Guy Named Hardy Cates...:
I met Hardy Cates in Sugar Daddy, and I have to say that I sure did fall hard for him. Big time! Hard as a young Liberty Jones did. I could see that beneath that mind-numbingly sexy bad boy veneer was a sensitive, loving, good-hearted person. My feelings never changed for him.
Oh, No! Danielle's Reading a Chick Lit Book! Not Again! :
Although this book is still a lot more chick lit-oriented than I normally would prefer, I found myself taking it in with an effervescent fervor that I found surprising. Although maybe that's not surprising at all in the sense that I never doubted Lisa Kleypas' ability to write a beautiful, enjoyable book. I am familiar with LK's experimental spirit that causes her to try different elements in her stories, and I admire her for that. And for this chick-lit non-fan, she did a bang up job. This is a nicely-done hybrid of chick lit and romance and it's successful on both counts.
There is much time spent on Haven's life apart from Hardy. Not too much, thankfully, but necessary all the same. Page time is spent on a marriage that turns out to be nightmare for Haven. As I read about Haven's marriage, I felt this strange kinship with her. I've never been married, nor have I been in a bad relationship like her. But I have been in situations where I felt like the intrinsic person I was didn't seem valued, like I was being absorbed and eaten away until nothing remained. I loved how visually this is illustrated with Haven's dream about being a Barbie doll whose body parts slowly fall off until nothing is left. That feeling is so real for people who have been in those toxic relationships where your identity is nothing but a reflection of that other person's. A sounding board for their brilliance, glamor, perfection. For what I call 'go with the flow' people who don't need to be the center of attention, and who often sacrifice their own needs for others', because they attract the emotional energy suckers like a vacuum. I wanted to cry bitter tears for Haven. And I did cry. I cannot get over how traumatic it was to read about the abuse that she suffered at the hands of her husband. How he took everything of value from her, and it wasn't enough. I yelled at Haven to get out, to say no. I wished that she had ran off with Hardy that night of Liberty and Gage's wedding. Unfortunately, she didn't. On the other hand, how can we skip through the bad parts of life that help us to be who we were meant to become, that make us strong, so we can get to the good parts? Life doesn't work that way. Would Hardy and Haven have lasted (as the people they were then) if they started their happy ending that night, or is their love stronger for what they experienced in the two years apart? I think the latter. Unlike my so savvy romance reviewing sisters on here, I didn't mark quotes, but I loved what Haven thinks about herself and Hardy together. That their respective broken areas make them fit together so much better. I truly believed that to be the case.
Haven was a beautifully layered character. She might have come off as the spoiled little rich girl, if not done so well. I didn't get that from her. I did see her insecurities and her desire to be loved, feel worthy, and special. I hurt for her that this led her into such a terrible situation with her husband. I hurt for her that she didn't get the love that she needed from her mother or father. Their version of love worked okay for her brothers, but it didn't really satisfy the little girl who had never felt valued by her parents. I could identify with Haven's tendency to want to make others happy, often at her own expense. I loved seeing her grow as a person. I loved her for her having the courage to confront some truly scary situations and take control of her life from the fear that held her back and caged her. She was a wonderful heroine. Liberty is a hard act to follow, but I think Haven did a really great job of claiming her own place in my heart as a heroine.
Back to Hardy:
Oh, what a man. Once again, Ms. Kleypas hits the mark in crafting her characteristic self-made hero. There is something so enduring, so distinct about Hardy's essence. He shows up the oh-so prevalent stereotypes about trailer park/small town/good ol' boy guys (I won't use the less nice terms). What others might consider unworthy, I can't help but love about him. He's down to earth, honest, real, vital, and not afraid to be a rough, real guy. That appeals to me big time, even if I didn't think I would necessarily go for that type of guy. A man who came from nothing, and pulled himself up painfully. A man with an inner drive and ambition that actually embarassed him. Like Haven, I totally didn't think he needed to feel shame about that. A person cannot choose where they come from, but they can choose what kind of person they will be in the future. Hardy chose to be about something. He had a reputation for being twisted,
Blue-Eyed Devil is a book that came to mean so much to me, despite its brevity. There is so much in this book that calls to my book-loving soul. Lisa Kleypas writes so beautifully. She's a very funny, and insightful person when it comes to human nature. The way in which she shows the interactions between people is very true to life. Although I love her historicals, I do feel that she has convinced me of her skill as a contemporary writer. She shows me what there is to be appreciated about the present, when I tend to be more captivated by the past and the fantasy worlds, which seem so much more tantalizing. The conversations and the confrontations that the characters have in this book are real to me. I often felt like I had been there, both in situations with my family, friends, and with co-workers or bosses. That as much as the soul-stirring, heart-melting romance won me over in this book. I loved Sugar Daddy, but I have to say that I loved Blue-Eyed Devil even more. I give this book the highest recommendation. You might not like it, and that's okay. But I love it enough that I wish you'd give it a try.
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