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Blue-Eyed Devil

Blue-Eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas

Blue-Eyed Devil (Travises, #2)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:

(800) 799-SAFE


Favorite Quotes: 

“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! 



Filed under Contemporary Romance, Reviews, Romance Novels

Top Ten Books That Made Me Cry


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they post a new Top Ten list and everyone is welcome to join. This week’s theme is a freebie so I decided to do “Top Ten Books That Made Me Cry”. I’m one of those people who adores books that make me cry so I figured, why not.

  1. Midnight Pleasures by Eloisa James Midnight Pleasures (Pleasures, #2)

    This book makes me sob. Not just cry. Sob. I’m actually not the biggest fan of this book’s plot but whenever I pick it up, I know the emotions I will get from it and that’s why I keep coming back to it.

  2. Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever by Julia QuinnThe Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever (Bevelstoke, #1)

    This is one of my favorite Julia Quinn books. I think that’s because most of her books are so happy that I was knocked off my feet by the emotions in this one. Case in point, my other favorite Julia Quinn is Romancing Mister Bridgerton, which has similar themes but leaves me grinning the entire book.

  3. The Bollywood Bride by Sonali DevThe Bollywood Bride

    I just read this book recently and I’m pretty sure I sobbed from start to finish.

  4. Dream a  Little Dream by Susan Elizabeth PhillipsDream a Little Dream (Chicago Stars, #4)

    A lot of Susan Elizabeth Phillips books make me cry but I decided to include the two that make me cry the most.

  5. Kiss An Angel by Susan Elizabeth Phillips Kiss an Angel

  6. Styxx by Sherrilyn KenyonStyxx (Dark-Hunter, #12)

    Oh god. There aren’t words for how much this book makes me cry. It doesn’t matter what I’m in the middle of doing, just the thought of the scene where Styxx is poisoned and dreaming of Bethany and their son. I’m tearing up right now just typing that.

  7. Acheron by Sherrilyn KenyonAcheron (Dark-Hunter, #8)

    I’m still emotionally scarred from that book.

  8. Blue-Eyed Devil by Lisa KleypasBlue-Eyed Devil (Travises, #2)

    This is my favorite Lisa Kleypas book and I cry through the first 100 pages over what Haven has to suffer through.

  9. Enslaved by Virginia Henley Enslaved

    The scene in the arena where Marcus has to send Diana back. Sobs.

  10. Heart of Obsidian by Nalini SinghHeart of Obsidian (Psy-Changeling, #12)

    This book tore my heart out and then pieced it back together.


Filed under Romance Novels, Top Ten Tuesday

Brown-Eyed Girl

Brown-Eyed Girl by Lisa Kleypas 

Brown-Eyed Girl (Travis Family, #4)Description: Wedding planner Avery Crosslin may be a rising star in Houston society, but she doesn’t believe in love–at least not for herself. When she meets wealthy bachelor Joe Travis and mistakes him for a wedding photographer, she has no intention of letting him sweep her off her feet. But Joe is a man who goes after what he wants, and Avery can’t resist the temptation of a sexy southern charmer and a hot summer evening.

After a one night stand, however, Avery is determined to keep it from happening again. A man like Joe can only mean trouble for a woman like her, and she can’t afford distractions. She’s been hired to plan the wedding of the year–a make-or-break event.

But complications start piling up fast, putting the wedding in jeopardy, especially when shocking secrets of the bride come to light. And as Joe makes it clear that he’s not going to give up easily, Avery is forced to confront the insecurities and beliefs that stem from a past she would do anything to forget.

The situation reaches a breaking point, and Avery faces the toughest choice of her life. Only by putting her career on the line and risking everything–including her well-guarded heart–will she find out what matters most.

Review: One of my favorite Lisa Kleypas books is Blue-Eyed Devil. I reread it every few months. I love the Travis family and how they support each other. When I learned that she was finally going to finish the series and give Joe a book, I was so happy! It had been years since the last Travis book and I was looking forward to revisiting the family. One of the downsides to the Travis series is that Kleypas writes them in first person POV with the heroine as the narrator. This work well for Liberty’s story and made Haven’s story even more poignant. However, for revisiting the Travis’s, not having Joe’s POV was a little disappointing.

Nevertheless, Kleypas introduces us to a whole host of secondary characters with Avery and her wedding planning business with her sister. This book delved into family dynamics from Avery and her family issues to the Travis family coping with tragedies as a unit. Avery has very clear daddy issues, her father being an unfaithful womanizer. She has learned to not trust love, despite being in the wedding planning business. Joe works to break through the shell around her heart. Even with their relationship building from a one-night stand, he is willing to take things slow. One of my favorite things about Joe is he is not the typical, womanizing-to-reformed hero. He had a wild youth but is looking for a serious relationship. Almost from the start he decides that he wants Avery and he works to convince her that a relationship between them is a good thing.

I did have a few issues with this book. Honestly, I’m biased. I went into the book thinking that this will be good but nowhere near as good as Blue-Eyed Devil. And that’s actually what I took from the book. The first person POV ended up bothering me. For most of the book it was fine. However, it bothered me during the break-up. I wanted to see Joe regret his unwillingness to have a long-distance relationship. That was really the part of the book that bothered me. To me, it seemed like Avery was forced into making a career choice based on her relationship. This wasn’t a make or break moment for the book but it certainly didn’t make it my favorite of the series.

Final note: Cutest proposal ever! Let’s just say there were puppies.

Favorite Quote:

“I needed this more than I would have believed,  latched so securely against him that his body formed the necessary margin, the boundary between me and the rest of the world.
It was more intimate than sex, to have someone hold the broken pieces of you together like that.”

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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Filed under Contemporary Romance, Reviews, Romance Novels

The Hotter You Burn

The Hotter You Burn (The Original Heartbreakers, #2)The Hotter You Burn by Gena Showalter

Description: Beck Ockley is ruthless in the boardroom…and the bedroom. He’s never been with the same woman twice, and vows he never will. With a past as twisted as his, meaningless sex keeps the demons at bay. His motto: One and done. No harm, no foul.

Harlow Glass is the most hated girl in town. The beautiful artist is penniless, jobless and homeless. When she sneaks into Beck’s home—her ancestral estate—for food, she’s shocked by his early return…and her immediate, sizzling and intense attraction to him.

For the first time in Beck’s life, he can’t get a woman out of his mind. All too soon, friendship blooms into obsession and he’ll have to break her heart…or surrender his own

**Warning- This review has spoilers! 

Review: About halfway through this book, tears streaming down my face, I realized something: I didn’t actually like the book I was reading, and crying over. Despite this, I finished the book, staying up a little too late on a work day. I then spent my entire commute into work the next morning trying to pinpoint what bothering me so much about this book. And it did bother me. I had read the novella and the first book of Showalter’s The Original Heartbreakers Series and really liked them. And the first book left me intrigued for Harlow and Beck’s story as well as the third book, West and Jessie Kay’s story. However, The Hotter You Burn left me questioning why I liked the first book and whether it would worth it to read the third. Honestly, I’m a fan of Showalter. I love her Lords of the Underworld Series, her Alien Huntress Series, and even her Atlantis Series, though I read it a while ago. I think that’s why I’m so surprised I didn’t like this book.

This book is mostly character driven. In terms of plot, not much occurs. Beck, as learned in the previous book, bought a house in Strawberry Valley, Oklahoma, with his two best friends. This house previously belonged to Harlow Glass and her family but Harlow lost the house after her mother died. Harlow was the town mean girl and basically everyone in the town hates her. She is homeless, jobless,broke and secretly camping on Beck’s land. They meet when Beck catches Harlow breaking into her former house and stealing a pie. The rest of the story revolves on Beck being attracted to Harlow, giving her job and a RV to live in. Harlow is trying to make amends with a town that hates her as well as wanting to create a home and stability, which totally goes against Beck’s One Night Stand policy.

Okay, so let me try to break down my issues with the book. Basically, it’s a lot of small things combined which put me off this book.

  1. Harlow’s life- We learn, in Harlow’s backstory, about why she was a mean girl in middle school and high school. However, halfway through high school, Harlow is injuried and home-schooled. Then, a time later, her mom dies and Harlow loses her house. That’s it. Harlow is presented as in her 20’s. What did she do between her injury in high school and her mom dying. Didn’t she get a job? Go to college? There’s a giant piece of her life, one which places her in the position she’s in at the beginning of the book, that is completely blank.
  2. Harlow’s job with Beck. Beck gives Harlow a job designing characters for video games. That’s fine, he’s seen her art work and knows she’s a good artist. But he essentially gives her his office at the company and moves into West’s. And then, when they break up, she’s basically fired and homeless again. So she moves back into the woods. Wtf
  3. Harlow and the Woods. Okay, I get the poverty plotline. But living in the woods because you won’t leave the town you grew up in, a town whose people actively hate you, seems a bit ridiculous. And when she goes back into the woods a second time, she has friends, somewhat, or at least people who might be willing to help her. But no, she goes back to living in the woods.
  4. Random odd things that Beck does- He sets up a trust for her early into the book and doesn’t tell Harlow- even after they break up and she moves back into the woods
  5. Beck the Man-Whore – I get the whole childhood sexual assault and friend-went-jail -and-its-partly-my-fault and abandonment by family thing but I’m not sure if that all justifies his fear of commitment. And if it does justify his fear of commitment, I’m not sure his and Harlow’s relationship is enough to get over that.
  6. How easily Harlow takes Beck back- this might be a preference thing but I really like when there’s a good grovel scene and when the heroine doesn’t automatically forgive the hero.

Honestly, I’m just not sure if I like the characters either as individuals or as a couple.

Despite my previous rant, there are pros to the book.

  1. It made me cry- Also personal preference but I’m a huge sucker for books that make me cry. I’m talking to you Midnight Pleasures and Kiss An Angel and Styxx and Blue-Eyed Devil. I’m fan of down-on-their-luck heroines. And I have to say, as many issues I had with this book, there were emotional, poignant scenes which bought my opinion of it back up.
  2. Chemistry- For as many problems I had with Beck and Harlow, both individually and as a couple, Showalter sure knows how to create chemistry between characters. Never did I doubt their chemistry, not for a minute.
  3. The negative side of small towns- I’ve been reading a lot of small town romances, i.e. Susan Mallery’s Fool’s Gold Series, and these books tend to present the positive side of small towns. It was a nice change of pace to see the humanity of Showalter’s Strawberry Valley, even if it was the negative side. It made the town feel more realistic.

Rating: 2 out of 5. I clearly had a lot of issues with the book and I’m not sure if I’m going to continue the series when the next book came out. But it also made me think. And cry. I really do have a soft spot for books that make me cry.

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Filed under Contemporary Romance, Reviews, Romance Novels