|I haven’t read many of Lisa Kleypas’ contemporary stories. But if Blue-Eyed Devil is any indication, I will keep on reading them. This story reminded me of tales on my keeper shelf by Judith McNaught and Nora Roberts.
Hardy Cates is a man who has risen from the trailer parks and made millions in Texas. He is new money surrounded by people who only respect old money. Yet, he has respect. He is brash but charming. He is handsome and built, having spent several years on oil rigs. He has fought hard to gain his hold in the business world, but he has done so earning the respect of most of his competitors. He did have one that caused some problems. The Travis family of Houston doesn't seem to like him due to one deal. And the fact that Hardy used to date a woman who is now married to a Travis has never helped the relationship improve.
But one Travis that Hardy would like to know more is Haven, the only daughter. Haven is gorgeous. When she inadvertently mistakes him in a dark wine cellar for her fiancé, Hardy is amazed at the sexy voice and hot kisses she poured on him. Of course, her utter embarrassment at her mistake was charming all on its own.
Haven Travis was in love with her college sweetheart even though her family did not approve. Nick did not come from money, but their long courtship showed Haven that Nick didn’t care about her money. But two years into the marriage, Haven had to face facts. Nick was an abusive husband. He only hit her once, that is, until the night he almost beat her to death. That night, after the beating and a rape, he left her on their stoop to contemplate what she needed to improve. Luckily, Haven had enough courage left to walk to a pay phone and call her brother Gage. Gage helped her file for divorce and get into counseling.
During her recuperation Haven runs into Hardy again. He has never forgotten her and is pleased to know she is available. Haven has no intentions of getting into any relationship, especially one with a semi-enemy of her family and a man who is large enough to break someone in half. Her body is healed, but her mind still has a ways to go. Hardy meanwhile, doesn’t know about her trauma and just likes her as a person. They start running into each other when Hardy buys a penthouse in the building Haven works in. She hooks him up with an interior designer (who happens to be one of her best friends) and that leads to a dinner and slowly to a relationship.
Haven is a character that tears at a reader’s heart. She is so strong and vulnerable at the same time. The details of her abuse are scary, yet Kleypas does a good job of helping the reader understand how a strong woman can be this vulnerable person. Her transformation back to a person she feels is worthy of love is well written. Hardy is the kind of hero that everyone dreams of. He is sincere, caring, concerned. Yet he gets angry, is scared of his past coming through and knows he could have an explosive temper if he didn’t control it. That makes him scared even more. His handling of Haven when he discovers her fears is one of the most romantic scenes I have ever read. Their relationship is both healing and challenging.
I was drawn in and didn’t want the story to end. The tale stayed with me for several days. There is so much to this, I know I missed details and will definitely want to go back and read this story again. Blue-Eyed Devil is a keeper and will have a place on my shelf for a long time.