Lisa Kleypas week The Dare

Lisa Kleypas Week – Guest Dare: Sugar Daddy

Another month, another dare! Every month we dare a guest (usually another blogger) to read a book that is outside their comfort zone, chosen by us. When we asked CJ from the amazing The Thrillionth Page blog, which genres she is not used to read and she said “Contemporary” novels, our first thought went to Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypas – a book that both Thea and Ana loved.

So, without further ado, we give now the floor to Carolyn Jean:

Title: Sugar Daddy

Author: : Lisa Kleypas

Genre: Romance (contemporary), Fiction

Stand alone or series: First book in a new series by Kleypas

Summary: (From
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 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.When Hardy leaves town to pursue his plans, Liberty finds herself alone with a young sister to raise. Soon Liberty is 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.

Why did we recommend the book: We both really liked the book.

Review by CJ:

The Dare!!

Well, some time ago, naughty Ana and Thea invited me to do a dare. They wanted me to read a book out of my comfort zone. Gasp!

The obvious choice was a contemporary, just because I’d never read one, which seems weird. But I really came into this scene with Outlander and Anita Blake, sort of riding the urban fantasy/paranormal train, and later I added mystery/romance, futuristics and historicals. I didn’t consciously avoid contemporaries so much as I never got attracted to them. My mindset was, UF and paranormal serve up monsters and interesting world building alongside the romance. Historicals, mysteries and futuristics give you other stuff with romance. But contemporaries? Just the romance. Nothing else on the plate. It always seemed to me the meal might be a bit thin.


I can’t tell you how much I looked forward to reading this book every night—a central measure of a book’s excellence for me. I looked forward to this one so much, and it lived so strongly in my mind during the day, it sort of felt like having a new love affair, where you have the sensation of being whisked out of your normal life.

And after I was onto the next book in my pile, I only wished I was still reading Sugar Daddy.

Gosh, I love this woman from the wrong side of the tracks in the big city stuff. Main character Liberty lives with her mother in a trailer park at the book’s open. When her mother dies, 17-year-old Liberty has to fend for herself and an infant sister with no prospects or skills. She’s also sort of obsessed with this guy Hardy from the trailer park, but he leaves to make it big. Just when Liberty’s gotten over him and put her life on a good track with a great guy in Houston, smoldery Hardy reappears.

Sugar Daddy is not a predictable book. At a certain point I thought, this heroine is going to end up with the hero I don’t want her to end up with. Shit, I can’t say anything more than that, except to say that she ended up with the one I wanted. But it was sheer willpower I didn’t read the last page. I was verra tempted. The ending is, as they say, unexpected yet inevitable, as a good ending should be.

Character luv.

One of my favorite things about Sugar Daddy is Hardy’s character; when I finished it and thought back on him, he added up in an exquisite, perfect way. Very satisfying. I won’t say any more, but he’s a fun character to put together in hindsight. And the events.

Liberty is an excellent character, too. She’s sincere, vulnerable, and strong, with a good heart and a one-pointed fierceness about making a better life for her sister and herself. The supporting characters— esp. Liberty’s mother, as well as Miss Marva, an eccentric trailer park neighbor— are refreshing and complex.

I’ve never much gotten to know anybody from Houston, but around the time I was reading this book, Houston was in the news, like with the hurricane, and for a split second I’d have this dim thought like, Oh, no! Liberty…the Travis family…. And then I’d think, No, they’re characters in a book. But they felt so alive.

Hey, also, the names. Hardy, Liberty, Gage, Churchill, Carrington. They are all very odd, very fitting.

A few questions for you veterans

There were a lot of pop culture references in here. Is that true of all contemporaries? I liked that. For example, the trailer park mother names the baby sister Carrington, after the Carringtons on the TV show Dallas. (Though there were simultaneous mentions of Nirvana, and I felt a slight time oddness there, as Dallas came way earlier than Nirvana.) Anyway, on the Carrington thing, when Liberty and toddler Carrington finally meet Churchill’s wealthy family, I was so waiting for one of the snootier members to figure out where that name came from and make fun of it. Weren’t you? Maybe I worry too much about little things like that.

Also, there is this last chapter thing, taking place some months later. almost an epilogue, with the happy couple together, and she breaks the happy baby news. It seemed like overkill. Do all contemporaries end with that? A pregnancy or little ones?

Another thing, I read a review of this over at Taja’s, and she felt this slipped slightly over the line to women’s fiction. Do people agree? Is it possible this is not a representative sample?

At any rate, I loved this, and I get to read Blue Eyed Devil now. I can’t wait!

Great review, CJ – we are delighted that you loved the book! Thanks so much for taking part!

CJ asked some interesting questions – any takers?

Next dare: Katiebabs has been dared to read The Golden Compass (or Northern Lights), the first book in His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman – one of Ana and Thea’s favorite fantasy series!


  • pidute
    September 23, 2008 at 1:16 am

    very good review!

    you got lucky ,they didn’t dare you with an awful book ,…..still not halfway as good as Blue eyed devil :)*sight*

  • Dev
    September 23, 2008 at 5:44 am

    Great review, CJ! I loved this story so much and though LK did an amazing job in telling it.

    As far as Taja’s opinion that this slipped into women’s fiction, I’m going to respectfully disagree. I thought this was a full frontal contemporary romance.

  • MK/Kati
    September 23, 2008 at 6:04 am

    Oh, CJ, I love, love, love this book. But for me, it’s ALL Gage.

    I love the scene in the limo where Liberty has just — ehem, reconnected with Hardy. And she’s trying really hard not to cry, and Gage says to her something along the lines of, “Suck back those tears, sweetheart, I swear I’d do almost anything for you, but I’ll be damned if I’ll hold you while you cry for another man.” LOVE Gage. He just epitomizes the “evolved” southern man.

    And it only grew for me in Blue Eyed Devil, I loved Gage even more.

    I’m SO glad you enjoyed one of my all time favorite books!

    Ohh, and I love that you guys got Katiebabs to read His Dark Materials. I LOVE that book! In fact, the whole series. The movie blew, but the books are fantastic!

  • Carolyn Jean
    September 23, 2008 at 6:47 am

    Thanks, P & D!

    MK, I wish I'd included that Gage and Liberty scene – that was such a great one.

  • Christine
    September 23, 2008 at 6:56 am

    Carolyn, you and I are made of similar stuff. I’ve always been drawn to speculative fiction-with romance!- for the same reasons, and like you was simply uninterested in contemporary romances as a whole. Not to mention that Sugar Daddy was my first, too!!

    Like you, once I got into the story, I was sucked in to the world and didn’t want to let it go. I was riveted to this story and hung on every single word.

    I haven’t read enough contemporary romances to judge whether Sugar Daddy slipped into women’s fiction, but I think I’ve read enough romance to attest that this story has a depth or grandness to it that would prove difficult to beat. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I feel it.

    Just wait until the Blue Eyed Devil! Wow.

    And I second MK’s claim… I loved Gage in Sugar Daddy, but I LOVE loved him in Blue Eyed Devil.

  • Rowena
    September 23, 2008 at 7:46 am

    Great review CJ!

    I really enjoyed this book and really want to do another reread (like I have the time for that, *sigh*) but you did a great job reviewing this one.

    I’m with Dev on this one too, it’s totally romance! In contemporary novels, there are always references to pop culture, some do it extremely well and others can be overkill but overall I love this genre!

  • Ana
    September 23, 2008 at 7:48 am

    CJ, I am not the best person to asnwer your questions, being very new to Contemporary romance. But to speak of references to pop culture, I do see a lot of that in contemporary paranormal – Meljean Brook’s books for example have a lot of these.

    and you must tell us what you think of Blue-Eyed Devil – one of my top 10 reads of 2008.

  • kimmyl
    September 23, 2008 at 7:56 am

    Great review!!! I loved her historical novels and when I read that Lisa Kleypas was venturing into the contemporary genre, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I truly enjoyed this book.

  • Thea
    September 23, 2008 at 8:08 am

    Wonderful review CJ–thanks so much again for taking on The Dare!

    I too loved Sugar Daddy, but I think I’m gonna side with Taja on this one–to me, this book felt less romance driven, and more about Liberty and her struggles as a young woman, with her family and little sister. Of course the romance is very strong and has that poignancy that Christine comments about…but the reason I loved this book was because of the uncertainty of the story, and the care that Lisa Kleypas took in writing Liberty. (Btw, I love the names in this book as well. Awesome stuff.)

    As for the baby thing, I’m not really a contemporary romance reader (in fact, I think this marks my only trip to the genre!), but something I’ve noticed in the historicals I have read is this epilogue with babies thing (I tend to agree with you on the overkill sentiment too).

    Just my $0.02 🙂

  • RfP
    September 23, 2008 at 8:14 am

    There were a lot of pop culture references in here. Is that true of all contemporaries?

    To varying degrees–it’s part of the setting, after all. I find two groups of authors do it more than most. First, the Kleypas/Crusie type in which it adds layers of associations to the story (e.g. in Welcome to Temptation the heroine quotes old films in times of stress).

    Second, and not my favorite, the name-dropping chick-lit type. I just read a Rachel Gibson that drove me bonkers with sentences like “she teetered over to her brand-new dark-green BMW convertible with its cute sunroof, her skinny scarlet Prada heels sinking in to the gravel of the driveway as she fished in her funky oversized Ed Hardy purse”. (OK, some of the book was better than that. But some was worse.)

    I think the latter style risks dating the book for readers who aren’t quite the same generation as the author. E.g. the Gibson fashion seems very ’90s to me, just as a young couple being into Neil Diamond fills a book with the “time oddness” you felt over Dallas and Nirvana.

    Do all contemporaries end with that? A pregnancy or little ones?

    Oh dog no. (Or at least, no more than Regencies do!) I think with the chick-lit crossover these days, baby epilogues are fairly rare in some lines–though in other lines they’re common.

    Is it possible this is not a representative sample?

    I think Kleypas is straight-up romance. Strong contemporary writers inevitably get labeled women’s fiction when the writing is thoughtful, the story is more than wish-fulfillment fantasy, or it deals realistically with grown-up lives (not being able to spend every moment together, not knowing instantly that he’s The One, having everyday non-stalkerish relationship baggage, not being locked in a spooky castle together, etc).

    It’s interesting that Taja compares it to “a straight romance where IMO the focus is firmly on the romance and the couple’s relationship“.

    I don’t think that’s what straight romance is all about. I think much of romance *is* about the heroine’s journey, with the relationship supporting or prompting her on that path. Ever since I started reading romance as a teen, I’ve felt romance has a strong tradition of heroines metaphorically coming of age and figuring out what they want (which was one of its attractions to me at that age). Contemporaries are so varied, though, it’s possible she and I don’t read the same books.

  • JenB
    September 23, 2008 at 9:13 am

    Not all contemps end with baby news, thank goodness. I despise the ones that do.

  • Brie
    September 23, 2008 at 9:51 am

    Great review, CJ! I’ve read one contemporary, I think. It’s not my sub-genera of choice either.

  • Liza
    September 23, 2008 at 10:20 am

    I haven’t read Sugar Daddy, but after your review, I’ll have to give it a try. Thanks CJ.

  • Katiebabs
    September 23, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    CJ: Limo Scene!! 😀

  • Aymless
    September 23, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    Ooohh… I so double dare KB on the Golden Compass, but I have so say that I enjoyed the 2nd and 3rd book in the series WAY more.

  • Marg
    September 23, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    I think that the baby thing was a moment when LK showed her historical romance roots, because it is very much a HR epilogue moment. It did jar me a little when I read it, but having said that I already really enjoyed the book by that point anyway!

  • Kristie (J)
    September 23, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    It took me a bit longer to get around to reading this book – mainly because it wasn’t what I had come to expect from Lisa Kleypas. But once I did, I was totally and completely sold on her ability to write a really wonderful ‘woman’s fiction’ book written in the first person. I didn’t used to read first person books but the walls were weakening. But when I read Sugar Daddy, I loved it so much, the walls came tumblin’ down, crumblin’, crumblin’ down.

  • Taja
    September 23, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    Carolyn Jean, great review! A really good choice, ahm, dare for your first contemporary. 🙂

    I think Thea expressed what I meant with my comparison to women’s fiction better than I did: “less romance driven, and more about Liberty and her struggles as a young woman, with her family and little sister”. But I went with romance as genre label in my comment even though I had that impression and it just says “novel” on the book spine (pb edition). The thought to call it women’s fiction in my comment never crossed my mind.

    As for my definition of a straight romance as a story “where IMO the focus is firmly on the romance and the couple’s relationship” which RfP quoted, umh, yes, that’s what I would say for a short definition in comparison to other genres. But I don’t mean that to say that the heroine’s journey is not an important part of romance novels and I didn’t intend it as my “definite” definition of romance when I wrote it. That would be better of in a separate post, and I would probably end up with nothing at all because I don’t think there are clearly marked “borders” between genres and you can find novels that one way or another transcend agreed upon (by whom?) borders.

    Anyway, like most of the other readers, I liked Sugar Daddy a lot and I’m glad I read it. Now I “just” have to wait for Blue Eyed Devil to get published in pb. 😉

    (I apologize for going slightly off-topic but I thought I should respond).

  • RfP
    September 23, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    Taja, I know what you mean about placing the genre borders somewhere out of necessity. I agree that the role of the heroine, and her stage of life, are central to a number of these related genres. One of the ways I sometimes differentiate chick lit from romance is the very sharp focus on the heroine’s coming-of-age story of a first challenging job, first bad breakup, etc.

    I apologize for going slightly off-topic but I thought I should respond

    I think it’s on-topic to help new readers figure out what makes a contemporary romance 🙂

  • orannia
    September 23, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    Great review CJ (and can I say well done for taking on a book outside your comfort zone 🙂 You’re braver than I am *grin*

    I loved Sugar Daddy but I have to be honest, I spent most of the book picturing (and even hoping) for Liberty to get together with a particular character. I still enjoyed the ending (very much so) but…I wanted that interlude. Maybe it was just me?


    PS Oh, and I loved His Dark Materials! Enjoy katiebabs!

  • Taja
    September 23, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    RfP, I didn’t mean to single your comment (or Thea’s) out and I didn’t feel misunderstood, but I wanted to clarify my “women’s fiction” statement in general and your comment helped me there. 🙂

    Now if I accomplished that is a different thing. 😉

  • Kate
    September 23, 2008 at 11:48 pm

    Since I’m doing totally awesome at rocking the boat tonight, I thought I’d just throw in my comment that I didn’t care for Sugar Daddy at all and haven’t even bothered with Blue-Eyed Devil. Ha! I am a rebel!!!

    (I did think this perhaps fell a bit more into “women’s fiction” than romance.)

    (And I’m really looking forward to someone tackling His Dark Materials!)

  • Ciara
    September 24, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    Loved the book. I read it cover to cover. And LOVED the baby epilogue, but then I’m predictable like that. It isn’t a romance novel, but a woman’s fiction with romantic elements and (thank the lord) a HEA. The back blurb is completely misleading. Completely not what I was expecting. Completely loved it.

  • naida
    September 24, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    great review, this sounds like a good one 🙂

  • Katie Reus
    September 28, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    I’ve been holding on to this one, but since you’re a self-professed ‘non-contemporary reader’ (not sure how to word that, lol) and loved it, I’ll bump this up on my list!

  • zewBrizYS
    April 17, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    Berry Acai

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.