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REVIEW: Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypas

Dear Ms. Kleypas:

After 20 plus historical novels, you’ve decided to change course and write a first person contemporary woman’s fiction novel. Sugar Daddy is billed as a big story featuring a plucky innocent heroine and her dilemma between two rich, alpha businessmen. The narrator, Liberty is a charming and sweet girl who would have made a great Young Adult heroine.

Unfortunately this is not a young adult book, but rather a woman’s fiction novel. I had a hard time buying into the idea that Liberty Jones had grown up by the age of 24 when the book ended. Had the story focused on the female protagonist, her struggle to cope as a mother figure for her 2 year old sister and her mixed race heritage, rather than the choice between two rich men, it would have had greater meaning. Or perhaps if it had explored, in depth, the real emotional issue of being in love with two men, it would have resonated more. Instead, it is just an accounting of Liberty’s short life, from age 13 to 24, her two loves, and ending with a contrived conflict.

Liberty Jones and Hardy live on the wrong side of the track. They grow up together, falling for each other, but Hardy has big dreams and they don’t include staying in Welcome Texas. As time goes on, Liberty becomes involved with Churchill Travis, who is like Elvis in the financial world. Churchill and Liberty become very close friends, to the point that some start calling Churchill her sugar daddy. This angers eldest macho son, Gage, to no end.

No man is resistant to Liberty’s charms and Gage eventually falls for her (after she nurses him back from health, another romance clichà©, like the characterizations of Gage and Hardy). The problem is that Hardy reappears on the scene about 60 pages from the end and Liberty has to make the right choice for her future.

The story opens with the narration of Liberty Jones at age 13 when her mother and her mother’s current boyfriend moved to Welcome Texas. The story, while told in the first person, is narrated at times in the present and, at times, by some older person in a retrospective manner. It had a disjointed feel to it. One minute we would be there with Liberty and the next minute, you would be commenting that “name belts were big back then.” There would be odd moments when Liberty, as a child, would make observations like “True handsomeness had escaped him by millimeters.” or that she wanted to touch Hardy, “not in sensuality but in wonder.” But pages later, Liberty could not figure out why her mother’s family wanted nothing to do with her just after being called a wetback. Toward the latter part of the book, the summarizing statements continued and I was never sure who the narrator was. Was it Liberty at the present time or was it Liberty years later recounting her tale?

As I stated earlier, Liberty is a charming narrator but she remained so innocent, so good, so perfect throughout the book, that she lacked realism for me. There were parts of the story that were very romantic with the two men serving as bookends for Liberty’s life. I felt that on the one hand, you were trying to reach an audience beyond the fan base you had built in romance and on the other, trying to satisfy the core romance reader which led to a kind of disjointed, unfocused story. I did like the voice of Liberty, however, and wasn’t displeased with her choice at the end. C+

Best regards,

Jane

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

23 Comments

  1. Danielle
    Feb 27, 2007 @ 18:04:47

    I’m really bummed that not only is this book written in first person (sorry I do not read first person point of view) but it’s in hard cover!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! UGH…and even though Amazon is selling it for $13.57 (original price $19.95).

    Sorry but Lisa lost a reader with me on this one.

  2. Robin
    Feb 27, 2007 @ 18:24:48

    Well, I’ve already preordered this one, and wonder at your comments if Kleypas is going to take a while to transfer her voice from the young and innocent heroines of historical Romance she’s used to writing and a more realistic contemporary heroine. To be completely honest, I’d buy this book no matter what, simply to support the continuation of Kleypas’s willingness to try something new. Granted, I hate that she left historical Romance, but since she plans to return, I DON’T want her to be one of those talented writers without a contract someday. Hers is one of the few voices that I enjoy even when it’s overly familiar.

  3. Keishon
    Feb 27, 2007 @ 18:33:49

    I quit reading Kleypas, oh, around the last time I last enjoyed a book by her, what book was that, oh, Where Dreams Begin.

  4. Wendy
    Feb 27, 2007 @ 18:52:46

    Ugh, I hate love triangle plots. I mean, I really cannot stand them. I pulled aside an ARC we got in at work, I might still give it a shot. Kleypas testing the waters with a contemporary has me curious and personally, I’m a first person POV whore. A hold-over from my primarily mystery reading days…..

  5. Ann(ie)
    Feb 27, 2007 @ 19:05:55

    It sounds like Danielle Steele meets SEP, written in first person to freshen it up. I think I’ll pass on this one.

  6. Tara Marie
    Feb 27, 2007 @ 19:49:34

    Another review I’m not reading–LOL. I’ve got this on reserved at the library.

  7. Jane
    Feb 27, 2007 @ 20:19:47

    I can’t wait to hear what you all have to say about this. I haven’t read Danielle Steele in like a decade so I can’t make the comparison.

  8. Sybil
    Feb 27, 2007 @ 20:34:49

    [quote comment="23875"]It sounds like Danielle Steele meets SEP, written in first person to freshen it up. I think I’ll pass on this one.[/quote]

    wwwwwwwwwhhhhhhhhhhhhheeeeeeee

    I said that too! hee

    Hey Jane can all posts that every include my name have that texas tag? Cuz it is the coolest. I am looking at this book. RIGHT this second. I have picked it up and put it down. Flipped through it…

    I think I will like it cuz I am odd like that. But man it sounds bad. And I hate first person. But I have a lurve for kleypas. And robin… it will take even longer since she has already gone back to historicals. And hopefully will stay there *g*.

  9. Kristie(J)
    Feb 27, 2007 @ 20:52:58

    Although this one in particular doesn’t appeal to me that much, I do say more power to her in wanting to try something new and different. Sometimes when an author crosses a barrier it works very well. I adored the two Heath contemporaries and would love to see her write more. So although I’m up in the air on this one, I’m certainly open to try any future contemps Lisa Kleypas writes.
    And I didn’t think I’d like first person books that much either but then I read Linda Howard’s and loved, loved loved them.

  10. Jane
    Feb 27, 2007 @ 20:56:24

    I’ve often been alone in my opinion about a book. It will probably be hugely popular and everyone will love it.

  11. Jenny
    Mar 01, 2007 @ 08:41:47

    I’d thought this was a contemporary romance (rather than contemporary women’s fiction). I’m not big on first person but as a major Kleypas fan, I’ll still give it a chance. If I don’t like it, then I may just stick to her historicals.

  12. Dionne Galace » Blog Archive » Someone to Watch Over Me by Lisa Kleypas
    Mar 04, 2007 @ 18:44:06

    […] she’s got a contemporary coming out and I’m excited to read it even though Sista Jane atDear Author gave it a C+. It’s coming out in hard-back (Kleypas’ first) and the price is a little […]

  13. Lauren Pollard
    Mar 11, 2007 @ 18:00:16

    I’m 16 years old and i fell in love with this book… It was me and my friends favorite topic of discussion. Not only do i think there should be a sequal to this book there should be even more after that. I couldn’t put it down, i finished it in two dayyss

  14. The Good, The Bad and The Unread » Blog Archive » Sugar Daddy the reviews…
    Mar 15, 2007 @ 06:37:10

    […] Jane takes on Sugar Daddy […]

  15. ellen
    Mar 25, 2007 @ 11:21:40

    never having read any of her other books and being a romance sceptic at best, I picked this up as light reading chick lit and was pleasantly surprised. While the plot thickening details are a bit genre predictable, the descriptive writing, especially in the beginning was rather lyrical and well done, overall, a charming book.

  16. Suzanne
    Aug 30, 2007 @ 18:31:33

    I have read almost all of Lisa Kleypas’s books and would like to read her early works. Is there any chance of bringing back her out of print books for all of us to read. I think I would enjoy these more than any of her new contemporary books.

  17. Lola
    Nov 16, 2007 @ 18:54:00

    i didnt still finish it but i really love it so far
    and smthing caught me in the book
    is when Librety was telling gage travis abot hardy and then he told her :’ur focsing too hard on not-loving hardy while u cant admit the fact that a part of u still wants him’
    i really felt connected to it from a persona exprencie
    im really exited to finish it!

  18. Audrey
    Aug 06, 2009 @ 09:57:33

    does anyone know of some books similar to “Sugar Daddy” and “Blue Eyed Devil” by a different author that I can read? I really liked these two books but I can’t seem to find any books similar to these… any suggestions?

  19. Robin
    Aug 06, 2009 @ 10:44:22

    @Audrey: I can’t think of any other author’s books off the top of my head, but have you read the third in this series, Smooth Talking Stranger? It’s my favorite of the three, all of which I really, really like.

  20. Jill Sorenson
    Aug 06, 2009 @ 11:45:41

    Audrey,

    I also loved both books! Just loaned them to my best friend. Here are some recs from my keeper shelf:

    Susan E. Phillips’ Dream a Little Dream is a very touching, well-written contemporary with a down-on-her-luck heroine.

    Nora Roberts Rising Tides: great contemp, angsty hero, much loved.

  21. Goddess of blah
    Oct 31, 2010 @ 15:28:34

    This book (or rather farce) is unadulterated, trite, cheesy, clichéd ,uber predictable chick-lit. An unrealistic, ghastly written fairytale with no depth. There was some romance but it didn’t sizzle. We hardly got to understand the “hero”, he was like a convenient piece of furniture dragged in like a prize. This book would be an insult to grace Mills & Boons.

    And it only gets worse…. its part of a series. I loath series. Particularly these pathetic lovey dovey series.

    I had high hopes for this book. I love reading about women who make it for themselves. Rags to riches by their own merit (read “The Making of Mia”). Not marrying into it. Making it into the big time with their own sweat. But Liberty Jones didn’t liberate herself. Liberty Jones went from being a poor girl to being a wife of a rich man- nothing else. There was no success in between. This isn’t the Middle Ages. Women aren’t a success for marrying into money. Even Cinderella had more to recommend her as a person than her looks (in order for Prince Charming to marry her).

    But Liberty Jones (a woman who wins the affections of a billionaire). I mean but why?? What she got that several billion other girls don’t have that makes her exceptional? What’s so unique, remarkable or outstanding about her that she managed to bag herself a highly eligible, exceptionally good-looking bachelor (who also has loads of prospects, a top education and apparently intelligence)?? NOTHING… (Oh no wait- may be her “intelligent” repartee??

    That’s the sad bit about this book. Its not a modern day fairytale- its a stupid fairytale.
    The book promises that Liberty Jones is a woman determined to remove herself from her disadvantaged background – and do we see her achieve this without using sex? No – she get’s married and that’s her meal ticket into the big bucks.

    Liberty Jones’ story is utterly boring.

    She didn’t achieve anything but being a legalised prostitute.

    This author does not know how to write. And its an insult that she writes historical novels set in the UK. She doesn’t understand us (Brits), and she certainly doesn’t understand our history, customs or when to use words like “British” or “English” at appropriate times (but then most American historical-romance authors don’t). She doesn’t even appreciate the language, mindset, or values of the people she is writing about. People thought differently back then – ACCEPT IT – but she (and most American historical- romance authors simply don’t understand that).

    The language they use is nothing like us. Its nothing like the Regency or Victorian times that they wish to depict either. The ubiquitous titled noblemen, the virgin heroines and the Butlers appear to be enough detail for they’re books to qualify as “historical” … Alas, our friends from across the pond but will persist unfortunately….

    And (I repeat) most American his-rom authors seem to have this obsession to re-write Jane Eyre – only in their unrealistic far-fetched renditions the governess “wins” an Earl or Duke, rather than a ugly decrepit bigamist. And if its not Jane Eyre, than for Lisa Kleypas its a fascination with having a Heathcliff in her romances. Like gypsies regularly attended Almack’s. Why use a setting if you’re going to completely radically change it until its unrecognisable?
    Lisa Kleypas hero’s and heroines all sound the same. Tall, dark handsome hero’s who have an edge of danger in them. And the hero’s are generally wealthy. Blah blah blah….

  22. Sandra
    Nov 09, 2010 @ 14:51:11

    Hello, I’ve read the book “Sugar Daddy,” very ficticious, but still enjoyed reading it, however, i had to go so many times back and foward to figure when did this happen, and then continued reading… well done, i am surprised i readed all 371 pages. I usally don’t get to the first 20 pages and give up. This tell too much about the charisma the athour put in it. By the way, is my fist and only romantic fictional book I’ve read. Hopefully i find another good one as well.

  23. clare
    Dec 05, 2011 @ 05:13:48

    i really love this book!it’s soooooooo amazing!!!!!i can marry Lisa right now!:)

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