The following guest review/letter comes from author Ann Christopher whose latest release, Sweeter Than Revenge, is due out on bookshelves soon. It’s a Kimani Imprint release and in some stores that means it will be shelved with the African American books and in others, it will be with the regular romances (where they should always be). Keep your eyes peeled for it, wherever you are.
Let me start with my confession and get that out of the way right up front:
I was prepared to hate this book, and I hope you have enough space for me to list all the reasons why:
1. Lisa Kleypas is a HISTORICAL romance writer, one of the best writing today and one of my all-time favorites. Two of her historicals, Where Dreams Begin and The Devil in Winter, are dear old dog-earned friends of mine, to be brought out and savored when I’m feeling glum, or just as a special treat.
I look forward to Kleypas’ historical novels, which do not, IMHO, come out often enough. That being the case, I felt rather strongly that Kleypas had no business whatsoever splitting her time writing contemporaries.
Not that anyone asked for my opinion, you understand.
2. The book is in HARDCOVER. $19.95, anyone? 'Nuff said.
3. The book is women’s fiction. Huh? I know WF deals with a woman’s journey, but where does that put us with the whole all-important romance/happily-ever-after thing? Is there one? And why should I bother if there isn’t?
4. The book is in first person POV. Ugh. Not my favorite, unless we’re dealing with a Victoria Holt gothic and myopic first person is appropriate to heighten the heroine’s fears because she doesn’t know who to trust and neither, by extension, does the reader.
So, yeah, I was already a little ticked off when I picked up this book, but I duly bought it because I love Kleypas’ work and want her to keep writing. We headed off for spring break and I packed it in my beach bag along with several other books, just in case.
Okay, Jane. Here’s where the fussing and whining end and the rabid fan-girl gushing begins. I loved this book. LOVED it.
Sugar Daddy tells the story of Liberty Jones, a poor east Texas girl who, as the story begins, lives in a trailer with her mother. Liberty’s Mexican father has died, leaving Liberty and her mother to fend for themselves. Mom has dubious choice in men but works hard. Plucky Liberty is often left to fend for herself and navigate the tricky waters of young love and adolescence. Enter Hardy Cates, a fiercely ambitious blue-eyed older boy whose desire to leave small-town Texas trumps his love for Liberty.
I don’t want to give too much away here, but let’s just say that things happen and Liberty finds herself raising her younger sister, Carrington, while simultaneously attending school to become a cosmetologist. Then she meets billionaire tycoon Churchill Travis, and his frosty, disapproving son Gage…
I couldn’t put this book down, Jane. Couldn’t stop reading it. Resented the kids’ requests to go to the beach (Oh, come on! The beach again?) because it interfered with my uninterrupted reading time. When I finished the book I reread my favorite parts, of which there were many. I forgot about all the back-up books in my beach bag.
Sugar Daddy does have a HEA, you’ll be glad to know. A very satisfying one. The book is heavy on the romance, which is always great, and the man Liberty ends up with is the right one for her, no question. Along the way, though, there are several tender scenes between Liberty and both her loves, and this makes the book all the more poignant when it’s time for her to choose between the two rivals for her affection.
The first person POV totally works, mainly because Liberty is such a terrific heroine. She’s funny, self-deprecating and strong. Not kick-ass, kill vampires, take-no-prisoners strong, but quietly strong, which is just as important. Her loving care of her challenging younger sister, her ability to deal with bullies, her refusal to be bowed by life’s hardships, her absolute likeability-all these things make Liberty an unforgettable heroine.
The world building is wonderful. I’ve spent precious little time in Texas, but Kleypas gives great descriptions of Texan males and attitudes, especially that of Churchill, the larger-than-life billionaire who could have been ripped from an episode of Dallas.
When you asked me to do a review, Jane, I tried to think of a book that had really stayed with me in the past year, a book I’ve reread more than any other. I also tried to think of characters I loved, still wonder about, and wish I could spend more time with. Heroic characters who are real, human, and true to themselves.
Only one book came to mind: Sugar Daddy.
So now I have this to say: Lisa Kleypas can write whatever she pleases and I’ll be right there the day the book hits the shelves, money in hand and a smile on my face.
Do you have a favorite book that you would like to review for DearAuthor? Send your review of it to Jane at jane at dearauthor.com