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Azteclady does Lisa Kleypas', Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor

Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor, by Lisa Kleypas

At just over 200 pages, this is another one of those skinny hardback novels put out by St Martin’s Press during the 2010 holiday season. In all honesty, despite liking most of what I’ve read by Ms Kleypas¹, I wouldn’t have picked this up for myself—$17.00 for a book that’s barely longer than a SuperRomance? erm…nope. Luckily, I didn’t have to—I was one of the lucky recipients of a giveaway held by the lovely Christine (who happens to be one of Lisa’s Divas).

A contemporary romance, this one of those rare beasts with nary a suspense thread nor a psychotic ex or malicious family members working over time to thwart a budding romance. In fact, there’s basically no conflict in the novel.

But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself—here’s the jacket blurb: (more…)

I was quite prepared to not like Sugar Daddy, because I couldn’t see how Kleypas could write a great contemporary book, when I was so used to her fantastic historicals. I’m pleased to say however, that I absolutely loved it.

Here’s a rather long blurb from an Amazon Reviewer:

When awkward teenager Liberty Jones meets self-assured, loner Hardy Cates her life is changed forever. Liberty and her mother have just moved to a trailer home in Welcome, Texas. Hardy lives in the same trailer park with his mother and three siblings.

Both the Cates the Jones families don’t have much in the way of money, but their ties to their family make their lives complete. Liberty’s mother works hard to support her daughter on her own, and when she becomes pregnant, Liberty steps in to help shoulder the extra burden. Likewise, Hardy also comes from a single parent home (his father is in prison) and he works hard outside the home to provide extra income for his family.

Liberty is going through puberty when she first meets Hardy and she falls for him hard. He is her constant advocate, helping her with tests, teaching her to play basketball, helping her see her own inner and outer beauty. But Hardy wants nothing more than to one day leave the sheltered trailer park life behind him and make something of his life. He is determined to not wind up like his father and he knows that falling in love with Liberty will only make it harder for him to go. To both of their dismay, he refuses to get involved with her and he walks away from Welcome and Liberty without turning back. Shortly after, Liberty loses her mother in an accident and is left to raise her two-year-old sister alone.

Forced to act as a single mother to her sister Carrington, Liberty makes sacrifice after sacrifice to ensure they are both fed, healthy, and happy. She sets out on a career path as a hair stylist and moves with Carrington to Houston to work at a prestigious salon. Once there, she meets Churchill Travis, a successful businessman who the other stylists tell her would make a perfect “sugar daddy.” Liberty has never considered such an arrangement, but when Churchill takes a personal interest in her and offers her a live-in position as his assistant, she lets herself be swayed for the sake of her sister.

Living with Churchill will give Carrington opportunities Liberty could never afford on her own. Soon Liberty has found love, happiness, and contentment in the Travis home and things are going well. But when Hardy steps back into her life after nearly 10 years, she has to decide if she’s willing to sacrifice the happiness she’s found for the future she’d always dreamed of.

Liberty was a really likeable heroine. She went through quite a bit of hardship, including losing her mum, but she didn’t become bitter and twisted by the things that fate threw at her. I really like that quality in a heroine.

One of the other things I loved most about the book, was Liberty’s relationship with her sister, Carrington. Probably because I too have a sister who I’ve doted on since the day she was born.

Kleypas’ story-telling abilities is clear from the word go. I’m usually not a huge fan of first person POV books, but Kleypas gave Liberty such a great voice, that it was hard to find fault, in fact, I suspect it would have taken away from the story, had it been told in the third person.

Overall, a beautiful story, with a winsome heroine and fabulous secondary characters. And the heroes weren’t bad either.

If you haven’t read this story already, you really need to go buy!

By the way, that cover on the right is the UK version. I’m not sure what the cover had to do with the story, but it was infinitely preferable to the US version. What do you guys think?