Read May 1-2, 2009
Second in Lisa Kleypas's Travis Family series is Blue-Eyed Devil (ISBN 978-0-312-35165-6, paperback, 352 pages, St. Martin's Paperbacks, list price: $7.99), which recently came out in paperback (March 2009). It features the only daughter of the Travis family, Haven, and the hero is Hardy Cates who appeared in the first book of the series, Sugar Daddy. The book is available on Amazon.com in hardback for $14.93 and paperback for $7.99. Lisa Kleypas' website's page about Blue-Eyed Devil can be accessed here and Romantic Times has a review.
I did not read Sugar Daddy because I was at first so outraged that Kleypas was going contemporary -- though relieved to later find out she will still be writing historicals -- and then after reading people's reviews, the story just didn't really appeal to me. However, not reading the first Travis book is not an impediment to enjoying Blue-Eyed Devil.
Kleypas tackles some heavy issues in her second contemporary novel as Haven's boyfriend-then-husband at the beginning of the book is physically and emotionally abusive. Haven is a compelling heroine who is easy to like and despite what she has suffered from her husband (then ex-), she's strong and resilient. Hardy is absolutely *delicious* -- as Kleypas' heroes always are! -- and the chemistry between him and Haven will singe your fingers as you turn the pages.
Their connection is believable and they are a great pair, but once I finished the novel I realized Haven and Hardy did not really have that many conversations before they decided they were unbelievably attracted to one another. The attraction is compelling, the physical side of their relationship is sexy, and once they open up to one another we do see that Haven and Hardy are a good fit for one another -- it's easy to believe that love develops between the two -- but getting to that point was not as well-developed as I would have liked.
Look out for: the hot first kissing encounter between Hardy and Haven in the first few pages (whole mistaken identity thing).
EN BREF: "Scenes of domestic abuse and the journey to recovery make Kleypas's modern romance anything but fluff. A Wellesley grad and daughter of a Houston energy baron, Haven Travis is an unlikely romantic heroine until her brief but ardent encounter with a man who turns out to be Hardy Cates, the East Texas roughneck from Sugar Daddy who worked his way up from poverty and then outmaneuvered the Travis clan in a business deal. Haven's engaged to Nick Tanner—a man her dad thinks is unfit for her—and though she and Hardy have a charged interaction, she elopes with Nick, and her father cuts her off. Nick turns out to be a bad guy, and a beaten and bruised Haven returns to Houston, where Hardy's still at odds with her family. Their passion proves as fervent as ever, but demons from Haven's recent past—as well as strife with her family and troubles at work and in bed—stand in the way." (From Publishers Weekly)