Blue-Eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas
Description:MEET THE BLUE-EYED DEVIL – His name is Hardy Cates. He’s a self-made millionaire who comes from the wrong side of the tracks. He’s made enemies in the rough-and-tumble ride to the top of Houston’s oil industry. He’s got hot blood in his veins. And vengeance on his mind.
MEET THE HEIRESS – She’s Haven Travis. Despite her family’s money, she refuses to set out on the path they’ve chosen for her. But when Haven marries a man her family disapproves of, her life is set on a new and dangerous course. Two years later, Haven comes home, determined to guard her heart. And Hardy Cates, a family enemy, is the last person she needs darkening her door or setting her soul on fire.
WATCH THE SPARKS FLY….Filled with Lisa Kleypas’s trademark sensuality, filled with characters you love to hate and men you love to love, Blue-Eyed Devil will hold you captive in its storytelling power as the destiny of two people unfolds with every magical word.
Review: The other day, I finished two novellas I had to read for reviews. I didn’t really feel like starting another book for a review. I was starting to feel the weight of the reviews I needed to write. But it was Saturday night and I was bored so I went into my book closet (yes, I have a book closet) and picked up an old favorite: Blue-Eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas. Since I had recently read her last Travis book, Brown-Eyed Girl, the timing seemed appropriate.
I want to take a moment and talk about the Travis series. Lisa Kleypas is one of my all-time romance writers. Her books often top my favorites list, like Devil in Winter, Dreaming of You, Mine til Midnight. The list goes on and on. However, I had always been a fan of her historical works. Then she released Sugar Daddy. I read it, because, hey, it’s a Lisa Kleypas book, why not. I don’t what I was expecting but it certainly wasn’t what I read. The romance between Liberty and Gage comes very late into the book. A majority of the focus is on Liberty growing up and raising her younger sister by herself. It is an inspective, difficult book and the trials Liberty face make her an amazing heroine. Whenever I reread the book, I always wish for more details about Liberty and Gage’s relationship. However, the stand out character in the book is not Liberty or Gage but rather Hardy Cates. Hardy Cates, if there is every a character whose name I want to sigh over, it’s him. He seems on the page, the strong, heroic but slightly twisted character who is the exact opposite of straight-laced Gage. He worked his way up from nothing and won’t let little things like morals and ethics stand in the way of what he wanted. And what he wanted in Sugar Daddy was Liberty. There are a lot of similarities between him and Sebastian in Devil in Winter. He was essentially set up to be the redeemed hero in the next book, Blue-Eyed Devil.
Note: This part of the review will feature spoilers. I usually try to avoid spoilers but I honestly can’t talk about the emotional depth of this book without revealing pertinent plot points. And really, the book has been out since 2008.
Blue-Eyed Devil is the story of Haven Travis. Period, end of sentence. Usually romance novels are the story of the hero and the heroine. But not this one. Sure, Hardy Cates is the hero and he and Haven end up together but the book isn’t truly about that. This is Haven’s story. Like Sugar Daddy and the other Travis books, Blue-Eyed Devil is written in first person from Haven’s point of view. The book opens at Liberty and Gage’s wedding, which Haven attends with her boyfriend, Nick. Hardy crashes the reception and he and Haven ended kissing in the wine cellar. Despite this, Haven ends up marrying her boyfriend and getting cut off from the family. She moves away with Nick and the next 50 pages focus on their life together over the course of 2 years.
What gives this book its emotional depth is the reality of Haven’s life with Nick. As their marriage progresses, Nick becomes more and more abusive. He hits Haven once over her messing up ironing his shirts. As the book goes on, Haven’s personality is lost in the wake of Nick’s abuse. He tries to erase who she is, from changing her name to Marie to controlling every little aspect of her life. She quits her job and everything revolves around keeping Nick happy. As Liberty puts it later, “Oh Haven. It’s like he was trying to erase you.” He broke down her self-esteem and twisted her family relationship so she felt like she was failing if she tried to leave. The emotional abuse Haven suffers is horrific to read and it becomes worse when compounded with the physical abuse which drives her to leave. Unlike most women in abusive relationships, Haven did have an out in the shape of wealthy and extremely protective older brothers. Once she called Gage to get her, her family swooped in and got her out of the situation with Nick. What really hits home is how gradual the abuse was. By the time Nick first hit her, Haven’s self-worth had been so degraded that she forgives him. It is the realization that he would hit their children, if they had any, and the rape and physical abuse of their last fight that drove her to leave him.
Haven, once she divorces Nick, works hard to put her life back together. She beings to see a therapist, gets her own place, and a new job. Piece by piece, her life beings to get back to normal. When she runs into Hardy again, she is attracted to him but very wary to start a relationship with him. She freezes when they begin to hook-up and he, not knowing her emotional trauma, wrongly accuses her of being a tease. Hardy is given a hero’s moment when Haven calls him to save her from a flooded elevator, but really, emotionally, Haven had begun to save herself. Before they have sex, she revels the truth about her marriage to him and their relationship progresses into one of love and support. While Hardy does get to play the hero, his heroics are mostly physical, while Haven is the hero for overcoming her own emotional trauma and for helping Hardy overcome his. They complement each other and they relationship is a welcome contrast to the abuse Haven had suffered.
This book has a happy ending but most stories of domestic violence do not. As such, I want to include the information Kleypas provides in her author’s note regarding abuse.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline:
“I no longer believed in the idea of soul mates, or love at first sight. But I was beginning to believe that a very few times in your life, if you were lucky, you might meet someone who was exactly right for you. Not because he was perfect, or because you were, but because your combined flaws were arranged in a way that allowed two separate beings to hinge together.”
“One of the blessings human beings take for granted is the ability to remember pain without re-feeling it. The pain of the physical wounds is long gone …and the other kind of hurt, the damage done to our spirits, has been healed. We are careful with those scarred places in each other. ”
“What you should really be sorry for,” he continued, “is that for the rest of my life, I’ll have to avoid wine cellars to keep from thinking about you.”
“Why? Was kissing me that bad?”
A devil-solf whisper. “No sweetheart. It was that good.”
“I was a new person in the same world, which was a lot more difficult than being the same person in a new world.”
Rating: 5 out of 5!