Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1 edition (March 6, 2007)
Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1 edition (March 6, 2007)
SHE'S FROM THE WRONG SIDE OF THE TRACKS
Liberty Jones has dreams and determination that will take her far away from Welcome, Texas -- if she can keep her wild heart from ruling her mind. Hardy Cates sees Liberty as completely off-limits. His own ambitions are bigger than Welcome, and Liberty Jones is a complication he doesn't need. But something magical and potent draws them to each other, in a dangerous attraction that is stronger than both of them.
HE'S THE ONE MAN SHE CAN'T HAVE
When Hardy leaves town to pursue his plans, Liberty finds herself alone with a young sister to raise. Soon Liberty finds herself under the spell of a billionaire tycoon -- a Sugar Daddy, one might say. But the relationship goes deeper than people think, and Liberty begins to discover secrets about her own family's past.
WILL THEY FIND THEIR HEARTS' DESIRES OR WILL HEARTBREAK TEAR THEM APART?
Two men. One woman. A choice that can make her or break her. A woman you'll root for every step of the way. A love story you'll never forget.
Thanx again to MK, who got this book for me for BAFAB day, I finally got my hands on a copy. If anyone knows anything about this blog, I adore Lisa Kleypas' books, but I was going to wait for this one in paperback. Up until this point, she's only written historicals, so I was a bit nervous about her contemporary debut. Well, I shouldn't have bothered, because she wrote a beautifully moving romance about a wonderful heroine and her very worthy hero.
When we first meet Liberty, she is a gawky teenager living with her mother and mom's latest boyfriend in a trailer park. Here is where she meets Hardy Cates, the boy that changes her life and sets the tone for her for the rest of her life. Hardy is a few years older than Liberty, but eons older in experience. He's the one you never forget - larger than life, sexy, unforgettable - the one that makes you see what all the fuss is about. And Liberty definitely wants the fuss.
But Hardy is determined to stay away from Liberty, no matter how badly he wants her. She's not the kind of girl you love and leave - she's a forever kind, and he knows it. So with his best intentions, he keeps away as best he can, though fate seems to have a twisted sense of humor and finds ways to bring them together, least of which is the day Liberty's mother gives birth to baby Carrington. A day that changes Liberty forever and gives her someone to love and cherish.
Despite some tempting and emotional encounters, Hardy eventually leaves Welcome, and Liberty, behind. Liberty tries to forget him, putting all her heart and soul into loving her baby sister, the light of her life. Tragedy strikes and soon she finds herself without a mother, without money, without support. But life has a way of turning hardship into opportunity, and Liberty finds herself a good job, and the legal guardian of Carrington. She also finds herself in the path of a rough and acerbic billionaire who takes a special interest in Liberty and her sister. Meeting Churchill Travis leads her to his son, Gage, who despises her on sight. But fate again has its fun by throwing Gage and Liberty together again and again. Just when Liberty starts to get on with her life for good, her past comes back in the form of Hardy Cates; the boy she never forgot is now the man who wants her forever....
Wow, I loved this book, quite a bit. I loved the flavor of Texas - the food, the people, the accents, the way of life. I especially loved Liberty, and how she was not a victim of any sort, and certainly not helpless, though she was resigned to her life in Welcome. She made her own way. Though she wasn't a firebrand or a larger-than-life character, I loved her quiet strength, her determination, her unwavering love for her sister. I even loved her when she wasn't perfect.
I can't say much else without giving away who Liberty ultimately chooses, so if you don't want to know, you better still not be reading. I liked Hardy as a young man - though he hurt Liberty badly by turning her away, I thought he had honorable intentions and couldn't fault him for that. I know she didn't understand; I probably wouldn't have understood either; but considering how the story ends, it was just as well. Though a determined and ambitious young man, he became ruthless and shallow and I really couldn't care for him by the end of the book. What he did, by using Liberty, was selfish, for no one but himself.
Then there's Gage, who dislikes Liberty because he thinks she's a gold digger after his father for his money, and yet he cannot help but be attracted to her right from the start. The more he gets to know her, the more he sees that she's not that type of woman, and he begins to care for her. Just when they have a future together, another man comes along, trying to take it away, but Gage is not willing to let Liberty go, not when he knows what they have together is special, and he's determined to fight for her using every advantage he's got. My one complaint about Gage is that we don't see enough of him throughout the book. I would have liked to see more of how their relationship developed, and felt a bit short-changed on that front.
****END OF SPOILERS****
So despite my initial wariness about Kleypas delving into the contemporary genre, I feel she did a wonderful job, though more heroine-driven than I care for, and will definitely be picking up the next one, though I'll probably still wait for paperback, or a discounted hardcover. If you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend it. The paperback version of "Sugar Daddy" is coming out in March, so you just have to buy it. Seriously. It's a lovely story, and if you like memorable heroines, Liberty is one of the best. And any story that can make me cry, in a good way of course, is definitely worth the price.
Rating: ****1/2 out of *****