SUGAR DADDY (Travises #1) by Lisa Kleypas
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published March 6th 2007 by St. Martin's Press
Genre: contemporary romance novel, women's fiction
Rating: 5 stars plus
Sugar Daddy nailed me at the first page…it actually had me at the epigraphy as a further proof that Lisa Kleypas could rewrite the phone directory and be great at that too! If there were any doubts in my mind that a contemporary romance novel could top her historical gems, SD erased them with the emotional depth of a soulful and poignant love story. Ms. Kleypas touches deep layers of emotion exploring a manifold kind of love: unfulfilled and unforgettable teenage love, selfless sisterly love, love when and where you least expect it.
What may probably amaze most of the readers is that LK spends a good part of the book building up a great emotional connection between Liberty Jones and Hardy Cates, two Texan kids born on the wrong side of the tracks, without getting them together at the end, as we would expect according to the usual pattern of a conventional romance novel. The storyline unfolds in a time span of ten years during which fate will wistfully bring Liberty and Hardy together through unthinkable hardships, separate them and reunite them again (their life-paths cross under much different circumstances since they both have achieved success beyond their best expectations) without fulfilling their mutual longing and desire.
But then, Liberty herself finds the answer to the ironic twists of fate that characterize her coming of age and her quest for love and self-elevation: life has a way to give you what you need, but not in the shape you wished for. She ultimately finds a new love (Gage Travis ), as deep and healing as unexpected and initially disguised in apparent (seeming but not real) antagonism.
Liberty and Hardy are two extremely resilient characters, vibrant and vivid like few others. He is strong, patient and ruthlessly self-confident. After years of hard work as a welder on oil rigs around the world, he will mature in a splendid self-made and extremely wealthy business man. She will warm your heart as a very young girl fending for herself and her little sister, meeting life head-on completely alone and undefended, living on next to nothing and forced to live the life of a single parent with very poor means and still loving her sister to bits. Although the relationship between these two intense characters will not unfold as sweetly as the reader might expect, the storyline has an unmistakable fairytale spin, where everything works out well in the end, with a great cinematographic quality that would work beautifully on screen.
Whatever formula, approach, choice of plot or narrative style LK uses in her novels, she is a consistently good story-teller. Having said that, the first person POV, although flawless and smooth (extremely pleasant especially in the audio-book format) limits our possibility to read beyond the actions and discern each character’s true motivations and inner thoughts. We miss so much of what goes on in Hardy’s and Gage’s minds (these two are men of few words and heavily armored to begin with), whereas a third person omniscient POV would help us to better explain and understand some abrupt changes of attitude or a certain course of actions (see for example the way Gage Travis goes from making of Liberty the focus of his targeted dislike to admiration for her self-sacrifice to love and passion).
But then again, for me it was an extremely intense and heart-wrenching read… it got me emotional and misty-eyed quite a few times. Superb and unputdownable!