02 May, 2015

Review of Blue-Eyed Devil

Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks; Reprint edition (March 3, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312351658
ISBN-13: 978-0312351656
Amazon: Link
Excerpt: Link
Lisa's Homepage: Link


His name is Hardy Cates. He's a self-made millionaire who comes from the wrong side of the tracks. He's made enemies in the rough-and-tumble ride to the top of Houston's oil industry. He's got hot blood in his veins. And vengeance on his mind.
She's Haven Travis. Despite her family's money, she refuses to set out on the path they've chosen for her. But when Haven marries a man her family disapproves of, her life is set on a new and dangerous course.


It's about a girl from Texas-oil wealth who bucks the family-value trends to go it on her own and ends up making a huge, life-altering mistake. When she returns home with her proverbial tail between her shaken legs, she's not the same woman anymore but never forgot that incredible guy with the incredible lips who had easily accosted her in the family wine cellar on the day of her older brother's wedding.

Hardy is from redneck country; the wrong side of the tracks, in other words. A self-made man from humble, abusive stock who, through a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, works his way out of poverty to become a man of dignity and refinement, or should I say refinery oil?

There's a lot standing between these two on the rocky road to love, and with older brothers set in their Texas-minded ways, and an oil-baron daddy who can't see beyond his own way of thinking, that road is filled with plenty of pot-holes, yield signs, and traffic jams.

Okay, so I started reading this one last fall.

That is, I bought the paperback last fall, eagerly opened it that night, and then was aghast to find it written in first-person from the female lead's perspective.

At which point I promptly closed the book, set it aside, and spent the next few MONTHS trying to recover from such a shock. My friends at Romance Writer's Weekly kept encouraging me to give it another shot; insisting I was in for a special treat.

I didn't believe (or want to believe) them.

Silly me.

Miss Author-Diva extraordinaire, Lisa, is my all-time favorite novelist, so don't be fooled by what I just admitted to above.

It just came as a complete and unexpected surprise for someone like me, who adores her work and abhors first-person romance novels. Yes, even the classics. The Jane Austen/Brontë Sisters stuff I had to read, then read for pleasure, and then had to read again my second time through college.

I get where first-person makes sense in some instances, but, just not in a romance novel when the ONLY perspective the reader ever gets to understand and be swayed by is that first, one-and-only speaker . . .

. . . throughout.

Doesn't anyone else want to know what really went on in the minds of guys like Rochester and Heathcliff? What they were thinking, feeling, or even wanting?

Maybe it's because I had to read those classics again and again that I found myself wanting to know . . . or, maybe it's just too much "I" for my taste. I'd rather read third-person omniscient than first any day, but that's just me, I guess.

Anyway . . . I picked up Blue-Eyed Devil on Thursday, and only because I'm at a lull in my own writing right now. It's in the 2nd edit stage, I've got a majority of the formatting accomplished, but even though my mind is telling me what to write, change, etc. about the story, I'm just not in the mood to do any of that right now.

So, I picked up Lisa's first-person modern romance novel and started to read it again. That was Thursday, and I finished last night (Friday).

Yes, in less than 24 hours, I finished that novel . . . because I couldn't NOT finish reading it.

More shocking revelations: it's based in Texas, and the two leads are from oil (fracking, shale, non-environmental friendly, money-over-land), and they're both filthy rich.

All the things I can't stand about Texas or its Republican-minded, flag-waving, to-hell-with-everyone-else mentality inhabitants.

It gets worse.

Toward the end of the first six chapters, I couldn't breathe. It was like reading a novel based on my own life but from the perspective of someone I've never met, and yet Lisa/Haven seemed to know everything about me; about my past, my own failed marriage, the mental abuse . . .

The narcissist syndrome she touched on with in-depth analysis and lots of obvious study-time on her part. How many Vanessa's had I had the misfortune of having to work for over the years?

Hell, even Haven's father read a lot like mine.

Being reminded of so much shit, hell, and cringe-worthy past experience damnation at one sitting was rough. It drained me and made me reluctantly recall all the bullshit I thought I had worked pretty damn hard all this time to let go of, move on from, and convince myself I'm better off as a result of having been made to suffer through all those years ago.

And still, I loved this novel.

I'd like to know how Miss Kleypas does it. How it is reasonably possible for her to make me LIKE something of this magnitude. After everything I just stated above, I still couldn't not read this novel. I couldn't stand it when I got so tired that I had to close my eyes and sleep instead of continuing to read on and on, either.

It was brilliant in its eye-opening appeal and spellbinding in its effortless ability to weave romance from such dark, dreary, and dismal circumstances.

Now, my reason for 3 of 5 stars include all of the above, but going back to the first-person issue: I have no idea who Jack really is or what he looks like, and that still bugs the crap out of me. I kept envisioning this middle-aged, paunch-belly dude with a monk's cap who somehow manages to snag every hot bimbo that comes along. Incongruous throughout and one of the main reasons why first-person doesn't work for me.

Hardy, on the other hand, was too easy to envision. 

my vision of Hardy Cates

. . . only a lot more on the Native American side of things.

(Or, was it Haven who has the native blood flowing through her veins? -- shakes head in confused misery).

And, toward the end, I got to thinking how it wasn't all that bad to have him be absent in the need-to-know category of things. Haven seemed to explain him with enough clarity and spice to make me feel him without his possessing the ability to do that himself.

At least I think it's okay . . .

Maybe I'm just going to have to try my hand at writing in first-person as a way to get over myself and this incessant need to know more mentality of mine, who knows.

I bought Smooth-Talking Stranger and Sugar Daddy at the same time I had purchased Blue-Eyed Devil, so those two are next on my list of TBR . . . a.s.a.p.

I still like her third-person style best, and in the regency/historical romance category, but as I said, anything this woman writes is going to be good and worth the effort.

Please be sure to visit the website listed below and enter in our Mother's Day giveaway. My novel is up for grabs along with a lot of other, great works from some great authors of Romance Writer's Weekly.

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