Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Lisa Kleypas: The Travis Series

I'm going to try and avoid the fangirl squee here and just talk about the books. So far there's three:

Sugar Daddy
Blue Eyed Devil
Smooth Talking Stranger

The Travis family is a rich Houston family with father Churchill, sons Gabe, Jack and Joe and daughter Haven.

Sugar Daddy is the story of Liberty, a girl who grows up with a complicated home life in a trailer park. Her mother loves her but is troubled and when she has a second child, that child becomes Liberty's. It's a natural thing in their lives and I think any older sister can relate to the overwhelming love a younger sister brings.

Liberty spends the first half of the book in love with Hardy, a boy from the trailer park who is worth loving. He's a hard ass by necessity, he loves Liberty but won't get involved because she would settle him and escape from his life is all he seeks.

The second half of the book is how she becomes part of the Travis family via a platonic relationship with the patriarch and then a romance with the eldest son, Gage. Hardy comes back into her life and the story is rich with everybody's emotions.

The next book is Blue Eyed Devil. Here is Haven's story. She is the only Travis daughter and she had a contentious relationship with her parents, especially her mother. They wanted a princess and they got a tomboy. (Hoo boy, can I relate to that!!)

Haven is so used to criticism and not being what others want that when she marries, she finds herself tied to an abusive, narcisstic man who destroys her self esteem and ultimately beats her.

Haven's gradual acceptance of her abuse is hard to read and when she finally escapes and returns to her family, her scars are obvious and quite powerful. Her ultimate romantic relationship is with Hardy, a man capable of ruthlessness yet so able to be gentle and understanding that he completely redefines what a hero is.

Smooth Talking Stranger is Ella's story. Now here we have a woman raised with her sister by a narcissist mother. The women have huge emotional scars from their mother and the story begins with Ella's younger sister having a baby and pretty much dumping it on Ella.

Ella tries to find the father and meets Jack Travis, the second Travis son. From the moment of their meeting Jack goes into total nurturing role. He challenges Ella who plays at being a vegan/hippie type but more than that, he helps her stop hiding from deep emotion and the occasional drama life throws at us and to fight past the fear.

I read each book in about a day, gobbling them up like they were candy but feeling them enrich my soul, like a gourmet meal.

I'll start by saying the only negative I found with these books were that they were all written as first person and reading them one after the other, they all had the same narrative voice. There was no difference between any of the women in voice.

However, it was a brilliantly crafted voice so who gives a fuck.

But for me the ringing theme was that these were three women all on journies that were affected by or truly reactive to their mothers. And that meant so much to me. Because when all is said and done, it's how our mother's raise us, see us and love us that have the strength to color how we live our lives.

As a woman, it's our mothers that show us what womanhood is and how we fit into that role.

Liberty has the strongest mother and the most maternal. But her mother makes bad choices that ultimately ends her life and leaves her daughters on their own, scrabbling hard to create a life.

Haven's mother is the least intrusive, having been dead for years but her stinging criticisms of her daughter leaves her emotionally open to an abusive man. And Ella's narcisstic mother stunts her daughter's emotional growth leaving them unable to connect in a deep way to other people.

The men are alpha heroes who are big, strong Texan men. they hunt, they shoot, they have big penises. And each of them is so secure in his own skin and masculinity that when he falls in love, he can easily take a nurturing role and be a help-mate. In fact it's amusing to see how these men are such assholes with their sister's life and yet so gentle with their own women. It's real.

These books are brilliant. I want to stay in their world, share more of their pain and growth. I want to do a better job here describing why they're so good and you should read them.

You should read them if you haven't already. These are more than love stories, they're stories about women who live complicated lives and find the kind of love we all deserve.


  1. I've read the first one last week. Picked it up at a thrift store and wanted to try her modern romances since I am addicted to her historicals! Am looking forward to reading the other two,.,,

  2. Sooz.... now I know where I got the name!!!

    (Totally off topic but Carolyn and I are writing a book and my character's name is Sooz. She's a little shameless, I must say.)

    And yay to reading Kleypas. She's THAT good.

  3. Lori -
    Would love to read the book about Sooz... I am a bit shameless.... LOL

  4. I loved Sugar Daddy and absolutely adored Blue Eyed Devil but I didn't really connect that much with Smooth Talking Stranger.
    Interesting what you say about reading 3 books written in the first person back to back being a bit of a negative. When I thought about it, I totally got that it would be so.
    When I first heard that Ms Kleypas was going to write Women's Fiction in the first person, I'll admit I was skeptical but after reading Sugar Daddy thought she really pulled it off wonderfully so.

    And I love your take on how the relationship with each of the heroines had with their mothers determines so much of who they are as adults. Again, you made me think about it and agree.