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.
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.
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.
I've had 'Sugar Daddy' sitting in my TBR pile since the book released back in 2007 yet I never truly felt compelled to read it until the Book Smugglers hosted their "Lisa Kleypas" week. After reading their reviews of both 'Sugar Daddy' and 'Blue-Eyed Devil' my interest in the novel began to spark but it was the interview with Ms. Kleypas that sealed the deal for me. The start of that following weekend hailed the time to pick up the novel and I didn't do anything but read and enjoy 'Sugar Daddy'.
'Sugar Daddy' is told completely through the POV of Liberty Jones. Side note: This is strange but I'm always wary of reading a novel told in 1st person yet I truly cannot recall ever reading a bad one. I think this particular story telling gets a bad reputation through the Internet. I've read a lot of reviews that scare me into thinking that a book is crap based solely on the fact that it's told in 1st person. And it never fails to motivate me to turn my eyes and mind away from those particular stories. Yet every time I finally find the courage to dive in, I'm always pleasantly surprised in how much I enjoy reading a novel told in this particular way and 'Sugar Daddy' is no exception. Now that I'm truly thinking about the reasons behind my fear, I think I've realized what I'm mostly afraid of and that is that I won't see or understand things from the hero/heroine's POV that we can't read. But the gift of a great author is that while reading their novels we don't need the other POV to understand what the other protagonist is thinking or feeling, we learn and experience through the POV that the story is narrated in. And in this respect, Lisa Kleypas is superb.
Liberty Jones is a woman born and raised on the wrong side of the tracks. We are informed by Liberty personally that although she and her momma were poor and lived in a trailer park they most certainly were not "white trash" but were better known as "white poor". This is an important distinction for while Texans detest "white trash" they pity the God-fearin' "white poor" class.
It is at the trailer park that Liberty meets her first love at fourteen, Hardy Cates. Hardy is your quintessential alpha male not only embodying the requisite rich charm that can melt the panties off even the most devote of virgins but also the innate need to protect the weaker sex. And of course Hardy is drop dead gorgeous with huge blue eyes, tan skin, lean muscular physique, and sun bleached hair. Stick a cowboy hat on this boy and he is completely irresistible not only to the reader but obviously to Liberty as well. But we won't brand Liberty a looks only kind of gal, oh no. Hardy saves Liberty on countless occasions, everything from snarling pit bulls to shouldering a crying baby. And with each save, Liberty falls more and more in love with him. Although the attraction is mutual, Hardy refuses Liberty's attempt at courtship. While he can remain her good friend, he cannot be with her for he has dreams, big dreams that will take him far from Welcome, Texas. The accomplishment of these dreams will be hard and rocky and he doesn't want anything or anyone holding him down, especially Liberty Jones. My heart broke along with Liberty's when Hardy finally proves true to his word and leaves Liberty and life as they knew it to pursue his goals.
Shortly thereafter, Liberty's momma dies tragically leaving her as the sole provider for her two year old sister, Carrington. For the next six years Liberty finds herself in the position of a single parent having to sacrifice endlessly to clothe, feed, and provide shelter for herself and her baby sister. This time is rife with struggle and I found myself cheering for Liberty. I clenched my fists when Liberty couldn't seem to catch a break. I cried when Carrington begged Liberty not to leave her alone on her first day of school. I gritted my teeth when a man wouldn't treat Liberty with the love she deserved. Mostly I was in awe of her tenacity and amazing courage for throughout this whole ordeal of making a life, Liberty found herself and I respected the woman she had become.
Finally with a bit of luck, Liberty is making decent money as a hair stylist at the very trendy Salon One in Houston, Texas. It is here that Liberty befriends billionaire, Churchill Travis. While her stylist friends encourage her to tempt Churchill into a "sugar daddy" relationship, Liberty sees her friendship with the eccentric billionaire in a completely different light. Although she does initially suspect churchill's strange interest in her, once called out he informs her, much to Liberty's relief, that he has no interest in her in that way. Trust soon settles between the two and the friendship evolves into a father/daughter relationship. This strange complexity at first frightens Liberty for she feels that ultimately she cannot withstand any more heartache. But Churchill Travis is a wily sort and he ingrains himself on Liberty's soul with the ease of a fox. And his conniving doesn't end there.
After suffering a riding accident, Churchill has been confined to a wheel chair for the next five months while his severe injuries heal. His total incapability to care for himself has turned an already surly old man into a complete menace. After firing his personal assistant Churchill convinces Liberty to take over the duties with some added manipulations and stipulations. Liberty would be required to live at the Travis mansion in order to be available to Churchill 'round the clock. Of course that means that now eight year old Carrington must move in as well. Of this Liberty is a bit skeptical but with the additive incentives of excellent schools, tutors, piano lessons, and a build to order slide in the pool, Liberty finds herself in a tenable situation. While she grew up with virtually nothing, why should she begrudge Carrington this amazing opportunity? Liberty agrees to the new job.
I understood Liberty's reservations to moving in with Churchill Travis and assuming the job of his personal assistant. Up until this point Liberty has fought tooth and nail to provide Carrington and herself with all human necessities. Taking this job and moving into a whole new stratosphere of society is jarring at best. But the great fear, is what if things don't work out. Moving from a tiny apartment to a mansion is easy but what about from a mansion to an apartment and that's just housing. Her concern is real but she resigns herself to this possible outcome for what the overall experience can provide Carrington. In essence, Liberty embodies all the fears and hopes of a mother. You want to give you children that best at whatever the cost is to yourself.
Now while Liberty and Churchill understand that their relationship is not the scandalous "sugar daddy" scenario, others find this a bit hard to believe. Well really only one person in particular, Gage Travis, Churchill's oldest of four children.
Gage is similar in some ways to Liberty's lost love Hardy Cates but in all others he is completely different. Gage is almost deceptively strong with expensive suits covering his very tall and lean muscled physique. His eyes are lightening gray with black lashes and hair. Although he is very closed off emotionally he oozes intelligence. I kind of found myself thinking of Richard Gere's personality from the movie 'Pretty Woman'. You know the big industrial types that have never had a true day of pleasure. And yet when Gage meets Liberty, it's like he can't help himself or maintain any amount of control when he's with her. Not only that but Gage is extremely alpha with a driving need to assert any and all claim on the ones he deems his.
After some direct threats to throw Liberty out the door, she remains strong and Gage soon discovers the reason for Liberty's new position in the Travis family and it doesn't necessarily coincide with personal assistant duties. The two embark on a rocky relationship rife with avoidanceand it isn't until Liberty nurses Gage back from a rather bad case of the flu that Gage starts falling for Liberty. And OMG what a fall it is. At first I was scared of a new love entering Liberty's life because we were both still in love with Hardy, but soon thoughts of Hardy disappear under the shear yearnings and desire that Liberty and Gage feel for each other. But just when Liberty and I were comfortable in our feelings for Gage, everything is turned upside down with the re-entrance of Hardy and his determination to win Liberty back. This is when I loved Gage the most. He became so territorial and sexual over Liberty with an almost violent need to remind her again and again what they have together that I got goosebumps with the intensity of it. To say any more would ruin the outcome of this love triangle.
The ending of 'Sugar Daddy' couldn't have been better in my opinion and the fact that the characters stayed with me for days after is a true testament to the impact this novel had on me as a reader. I truly loved it; every character and moment - I loved.