This book is very different from the formulaic romance novels to which many of us have become accustomed. Kleypas digs into real issues, such as domestic abuse, that many romance authors shy away from. I feel that the author gives an insightful portrayal of the pain, anguish, and self-degredation that a woman who has been physically, sexually, and emotionally abused by her spouse might feel without dwelling *overly* much on depictions of the actual abuse. The scenes are long enough to give the reader an idea of the horrors experienced by the heroine, but not so long as to seem gratuitous. Although I am grateful to have never experienced such abuse firsthand, I feel that this book opened my eyes to a situation experienced by far too many women around the world. It was an eye-opening read that made me realize what inner strength it must take for women to trust again after being fundamentally violated by a person who is supposed to love and protect them. It was wonderful to see Haven learn to trust herself and the world again. An excellent book, but not one that I would recommend to a young reader or to someone whose primary goal is to get lost in a happy-go-lucky read. This book DOES have a very happy ending, but the first few chapters are not what I would call light, relaxing reading.
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I liked this second book in the Travis Family series, and I really enjoyed the characters Lisa Kleypas has crafted in this novel and others. HOWEVER, I was VERY shocked by the violence in the book. Reading the book jacket and description, there is NO INDICATION of the horrors contained within- I think this book should warn readers of the level of graphic violence, sexual and domestic abuse described within - I can only imagine how traumatizing this could be for younger readers, or worse, victims of abuse. The book does end on happier notes, and you really develop an appreciation for the bravery and perseverance of the heroine - but I cannot underscore enough the need to be aware of what you are getting into - the beginning half of this book is quite upsetting. I had no idea what I was in for - and found myself reading, and then crying, in a very full doctor's waiting room as I was caught unawares by the violence within the story. Bottom line: Worth a read, especially for the great characters - just be aware of the violence that is contained.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
66 of 71 people found the following review helpful
Kleypas does it again!March 25 2008
- Published on Amazon.com
Frankly, this review is a tad biased because I am an avid fan of Lisa Kleypas's writing. She can almost do no wrong in her books for me. Fortunately, Blue-Eyed Devil proves to be almost spot-on from start to finish.
Haven Travis has grown up within the lap of luxury in her wealthy Texas home. She has tried hard to make a life for herself outside of that ritzy existence, trying to prove herself as a woman and an individual. She has fallen in love with Nick, a man her father, Churchill, does not approve in the least. But love is often blind, and in this case, love is hiding a very dangerous heart.
Against her family's wishes, Haven marries Nick. That is when the horror truly begins. Nick lacks no compunction in bending Haven to his will. Early chapters in Blue-Eyed Devil focus on that abuse: verbal, emotional, and yes, some very hard to read scenes of physical abuse. Kleypas brings you into this situation, showing you the terror Haven faces as she tries not to set Nick off. Haven has courage and she makes it out. She is now determined to forge a new future for herself, and that is where, unknowingly, love knocks again. This time, in the form of the wealthy Hardy Cates.
Hardy may be the devil to the Travis family, but to Haven, he is everything wonderful, and dangerous, in a man. She fights her attraction to him and in the process learns many new things about herself, and about love's difficult path. The danger is not over yet for Haven; she has many painful demons to battle before her happily-ever-after can start.
Despite its title, Blue-Eyed Devil is truly the triumphant story of Haven. She is a wonderful character. She is forced to face several hard realities but she does it with determination, with strength, and with resolve. Her journey is not an easy one by any means. I think Kleypas truly created a character to admire in this book. Haven may have grown up in wealth, but wealth could not protect her from everything. It is only love, family, and her own resiliency that help her keep moving forward.
Hardy is sexy, he is a charmer, and a bit of a rogue. Just the man Haven needed but not to feel complete, not to feel like a woman again. She needed Hardy for his friendship, for the desire he rekindled in her, and for the sense of peace she finds with him. Their relationship is on the one hand pure struggle as there are a lot of obstacles to overcome. It just makes their ending that much sweeter, but also realistic. Don't be fooled, Kleypas does not gloss over Haven's emotional wellbeing. This is a character who is a fighter and she comes out on top.
Blue-Eyed Devil impressed me from page one to the very end. Yes, I am a Lisa Kleypas admirer, I readily admit that. Her writing always touches a chord with me. But don't take my word on it. Give Haven and Hardy a chance. Female empowerment and the importance of love are themes Kleypas explores with depth, humility, and passion.
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Kleypas's second contemporary is just as stunning as the firstApril 2 2008
- Published on Amazon.com
Haven Travis grew up in the shadow of her family's wealth and notoriety as old Texas money. Determined to prove that she wasn't the bourgeois beauty queen that people expected her to be, Haven attended Wellesley and fell in love with a boy named Nick from the wrong side of the tracks. When her father told her he would disown her if she chose to marry Nick, she was fine with it. Their love would keep them together. Haven and Nick elope to the Florida Keys and then begin their marriage, only it's nowhere near as idealistic as Haven had imagined. Before she realizes, Nick is berating her father for disowning her, Haven for her appearance and inability to iron his shirts properly, and when his verbal and emotional abuse turn physical, she knows she has to do something to get away--before she's stuck forever...
Hardy Cates is a Texas roughneck who has clawed his way to the top of the oil industry. A self-made millionaire, Hardy is no friend of the Travis family after swindling Haven's brother Gage Travis in a business deal. But when his old friend Liberty decides to marry Gage, Hardy can't pass up the opportunity to crash her wedding. When he sees Haven, he finds himself enthralled by her beauty, inflamed by her passionate nature, and desperate to find out more. When Haven elopes, two long years pass before Hardy runs into her again. But when he does, he realizes all the old emotion is still there, and the flames have been fanned over the years. Hardy is determined that he'll have Haven Travis, whether she likes it or not.
Blue-Eyed Devil is the sequel to Kleypas's first contemporary novel, Sugar Daddy. I loved that book. Loved it. Stayed up all night and was nearly late to work the next day I loved it so much. So I was skeptical about a sequel, because at the end of Sugar Daddy Hardy Cates had left a bad taste in my mouth. I needn't have worried. There are few authors who can pull emotion out of me like Lisa Kleypas.
First of all, the character of Haven Travis a well-drawn, well thought out, carefully executed heroine. It would be easy to dislike someone who was born with a silver spoon in her mouth and determined to reject it. And having an abusive husband when you know she has the resources to get herself out of it could have made Haven come off as someone who enjoyed being a victim. But that's not how it was. My heart bled for the abuse that Haven endured and I cried when she finally worked up the nerve to leave Nick. I was broken for her and could completely understand how she wouldn't be ready for another relationship anytime soon--nor should she be.
Then enter Hardy Cates, a man who I knew had it in him to be a white knight, but who hadn't displayed those characteristics at the end of Sugar Daddy. And from the way he took care of her, from the very beginning, the way he tried so hard to put the broken pieces of Haven Travis back together again, I fell in love. I don't even know why I doubted it. Lisa Kleypas has rarely done me wrong, and after finishing this books I can't even remember which ones I didn't like.
Blue-Eyed Devil is romantic, engaging, and dazzlingly well written. I've said it before and I'll say again that if all of Kleypas's contemporaries are going to be this stunningly emotional and well told then I can't fault her for going this route. Before enjoying Blue-Eyed Devil, I'd recommend reading Sugar Daddy, but just know that each is also fantastic on its own. And while you're waiting for her next contemporary, a couple of my favorite Kleypas historicals are Someone to Watch Over Me (Bow Street, Book 1) and Suddenly You.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
first of manyJan. 13 2012
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
This was my first Lisa Kleypas book, and it's great! I would have read Sugar Daddy first, but this was a gift. I'd recommend starting with Sugar Daddy, so you can learn some of the characters you meet in Blue Eyed Devil.
The story is told from the first person POV of Haven Travis. While that's not typically my favorite POV, it really worked for this story. Haven's first relationship in the story is incredibly difficult and far too common. I like how well Ms. Kleypas told her story. It made me root for Haven the whole time. Her strength is inspiring, and she's a terrific heroine.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Kleypas Soars With Another Sexy Texas SagaJune 22 2008
- Published on Amazon.com
There's nothing steamier in romance than a privileged miss with a cool and cultivated exterior who's got a secret craving for rugged men from the wrong side of the tracks.
Haven Travis is a different kind of romance heroine. As a modern feminist, and a graduate of the prestigious Wellesley College (author Lisa kleypas' real alma mater) she's at first reluctant to admit how attracted she is to rugged and blue-eyed Hardy Cates. But after a bad marriage and some intensive therapy cause her to rethink her priorities, she takes the incredibly brave decision to give love a try with a man who is definitely not of her background.
Of course, it helps that Hardy Cates is a man on the rise -- worth millions, shrewd and aggressive, he takes on Houston's old guard with the same self-confidence that he uses to make Haven shed her prim, cool facade and to gradually loosne up all of her inhibitions in bed!
This exciting contemporary romance is sexy, touching, and even funny in places. There were only a couple of minor thematic issues I would have liked to see clarified or handled differently.
Haven's "feminism" is never really developed in a way to engage the reader. She says she was the type of little girl who always wanted tool kits and not dolls, but as an adult she never shows the slightest sign of savvy or guts or know-how in any technical field. When she gets stuck in an elevator, all she can seem to do is grab her cell phone and scream for Hardy to come and rescue her! As Shakespeare once said so eloquently, feminism should be made of sterner stuff. Haven always reacts to danger by looking for a big strong man to turn to. This would be fine in a Victorian historical, and Kleypas has written some very good ones. But it is not a feminist attitude. Lisa Kleypas seems to want her heroine to be called a feminist without having to do any of the nasty, dirty stuff feminists have to do, like stand up for themselves or do gunky boy stuff with tools.
Hardy Cates is also not fleshed out as much as he could have been. Lisa Kleypas is so in love with the idea of powerful, "ruthless" men, but she tends to be very squeamish about describing the business world honestly. There are no Willy Lomans, no decent men who believe in the system only to be shattered by the rise of the rich and ruthless. Only Horatio Alger stories of hard-driving heroes who beat the system without having to hurt anyone in the process.
If Hardy is really "ruthless," what rules does he break? Is there blood on his hands, or only oil? How exactly does a welder with no education at all rise to become a multi-millionaire while still having time for a sexy social life and lost of four hour workouts at the gym?
Lisa Kleypas is a brilliant writer at the crossroads of her career. Part of her wants to be taken seriously as a writer, which is why she's getting her feet wet in weighty topics like feminism and domestic abuse. But part of her still wants the easy fantasy of hitting the jackpot, marrying the rich guy with the big muscles, and living happily ever after. There are conflicts here that could make for great literature, but they need to be explored more honestly than they are in BLUE EYED DEVIL.
18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Not Worth it in HardcoverJune 7 2008
- Published on Amazon.com
I loved "Sugar Daddy" so I was pretty excited to read this book. And, because of this, I put down the $$ for a hardcover and I regret it a lot. Should have waited for paperback. I'm a fan of Kleypas'... I've read most of her historicals and a couple of them are some of my favorite books. I also love contemporary romances/chick lit, so I was open to liking this book quite a bit.
~ Spoilers in Review ~
Unlike a few of the other posters, I didn't mind the abuse plot. I didn't mind the amount of time spent on explaining exactly the details of Haven's marriage to Nick. In fact, it was one of the only periods of the book where I felt that I was getting a picture of Haven that I could understand. [Be warned, though, that some of the abuse scenes are quite graphic.]
The part where Kleypas really lost me was the point when Haven actually leaves Nick. From that point onwards, I just didn't understand the woman. She constantly made choices that bewildered me. Also, I felt like she was - inherently - a very hypocritical character. She is always going on and on about how she doesn't want to be one of those rich girls who gets stuff handed to her on a platter. But... um... she does. All the time. And I just couldn't get over the fact that Haven wants to pretend to be a disenfranchised when - in reality - she's not. How can I emphasize with a girl like that? How can I root for a girl like that? Of course, I feel pity for her because of the abuse she suffered, but Kleypas gives us no indication that Haven learned anything from her mistakes and her horrendous marriage. She has no character development. If you compare the first page to the last page, you'll think that Haven is the exact same person on the last page as she was in the beginning. And that means that Kleypas dropped the ball somewhere. She kind of forgot to make her main character have any growth.
The book tells us that Haven is offered a job by one of her brothers (he owns a company) and she decides to get a low level position, instead of a management one, because it wouldn't be fair for her to take a better position away from someone who deserves it more. And that's when things stop making sense. She does take, however, a luxury apartment that she admits that no assistant would get. She also has her best friend - an expensive designer - decorate her apartment. Where'd she get the money for that? I'm guessing not on an assistant's salary. She also, of course, continues to lead the exclusive lifestyle that only the rich can have - goes to a fancy club with her brother and his girlfriend & she goes to a fancy party. (I will say that she didn't necessarily want to go to these places, but it's still says something about what her real identity is and how she won't accept it.) One of the problems I had, at this point, was that she wasn't just realizing that instead of running away from the fact that she's rich, she could just deal with it and make it work FOR her, instead of against her. Like her brothers. She could have borrowed some money from Gage and opened up her own business. Or gone back to school to get a Master's degree. So many doors and opportunities were available to her to stop pretending to be disenfranchised (because what good did that do anyone) and, instead, use her money to HELP the disenfranchised.
But, no. She, instead, plays the "damsel in distress" card to the hilt. Even going as far as to take the abuse heaped onto her by her evil boss and choosing to get fired, passively, rather than use her power to take down the woman. Her brother(!) ends up having to fight the battle for her. WHY? It makes no sense.
~ End Spoilers ~
To me, this is the story of a woman who is first taken care of by her rich father, then her rich brothers, and then - finally - a rich husband. She has a brief and horrible marriage in between being shuffled from one rich man to another. She can never stick up for herself and must always be rescued somehow. And, frankly, those aren't the sorts of heroines I want to read about. Hell, no.
And regarding Hardy: I don't know if he's a different character in this book or not (as other posters have said). I mean, we didn't know much of him last time, except from Liberty's POV. I would say, however, that he was very much a generic character here. The romance between him and Haven is pretty much reduced to sex. Not much else. The two never hvae a conversation that explain exactly what Hardy sees in her - if at all - beyond lust. Haven, for her part, seems to want a man who can take care of her and is strong and like her Daddy. I didn't think that he needed to be the Hardy Cates character all. They could have re-named Joe Smith and he would be, basically, every generic romance character I've ever read. Filled with massive cliches, too. I think that he suffered because the book was in first person and Kleypas couldn't get into Hardy's head properly for that reason.
I think the best way to describe this book is to say that it's a historical in a contemporary skin. The way that Haven is taken care of by all the men in her family and how she has such inability to take care of herself reminds me of the heroines of historicals. And the way that Hardy is allowed to act like the biggest jerk and it's excused (because he's rich and strong and SAYS he loves her so much) reminds me of the way that alpha-men Dukes and Viscounts are written in historicals. I don't have to point out that - a lot of the time - this scenario doesn't even work well within the historical setting. But to take it and place in a contemporary setting really does the hero and heroine a disservice.
Bottom Line: The characters are not well sketched enough to make this worth a read. However, if you must read anything by Kleypas or you loved "Sugar Daddy" so much, you have to read it, I would say that you should check it out from a library. If you must buy it, wait for the paperback. Please don't make the same mistake I did.