**** Minor spoiler: I can’t really talk about what I thought about the book without mentioning why Haven’s marriage failed. Also spoiler for the love triangle in Sugar Daddy. ****
The Premise: Haven Travis is a heiress from a powerful Houston family. Haven wants to prove her independence and marries her boyfriend despite her father’s threat to cut her off and his warnings that Nick is only interested in her wealth. When her marriage falls apart spectacularly, Haven comes back to Houston a changed person. She is starting to get back on her feet again when she runs into Hardy Cates, a brother’s rival, and not one of her family’s favorite people.
Thoughts: I was really engaged (I think the word I used was “raw”) with what Haven had to go through in her marriage to Nick during the first part of the book. Kleypas obviously researched narcissistic personalities and domestic abuse and I felt like I was learning some things about boundaries and the way they are pushed in these situations. I hadn’t considered the boundaries people trying to help also crossed, but I felt a lot of sympathy for some of Haven’s family members when she told them not to get involved.
It felt quite believable that at first Nick was very attentive and loving, but as time went by and things did not go his way, he slowly changed and started blaming Haven for everything. The way he twisted things in his mind was disturbing and I hated his character, but I never felt annoyed at Haven for putting up with it because I also saw how he manipulated her.
Kleypas also does a good job in highlighting the narcissistic personality in the workplace as Haven is unlucky enough to meet another person with this type of personality there.
Then Haven and Hardy meet again, and in my mind it doesn’t feel very long before they get pretty hot and heavy. Maybe I’m being very prim and proper here, but I think the book suffers because the physical is a large part of Hardy and Haven’s relationship. Which conflicted with what I’d seen before: Haven flinching at her own brother’s touches because she subconsciously associated men with her abuse. Not that it was easy for her to get physical with Hardy, but I would have found a longer courtship before the physical intimacy more believable. These two characters fit together well, with both their pasts making them flawed in just the right way for each other, but this discovery feels overshadowed by the sex. Of course, I prefer my romances to be slow moving anyway, and I haven’t seen anyone else complain, so make of this what you will.
The secondary characters are mostly people from Haven’s family, and we see a lot of her brother Gage and his wife Liberty, who have their own book, Sugar Daddy, but both books stand on their own. Usually I don’t like seeing gratuitous visits from characters in past books, but in Blue-Eyed Devil it worked because they seemed to have a place in the plot and had meaningful interactions with the main couple. It’s Gage and Liberty’s wedding where Haven and Hardy first meet and they also help Haven when she wants to leave Nick, then with supporting her emotionally afterwards. Another brother, Jack, helps Haven out a lot too. He gets his book next (Smooth Talking Stranger), but there are also another brother who looks to be primed for his own book after that.
Overall: This is fiction that also tries to do some educating about narcissistic personalities and domestic abuse, and in this aspect the book does very well. In my mind however, it set up Haven’s character in a way that the sex scenes brought the story down for me, but I am suspect I’m in the minority on this and in skimming past them. Otherwise, it was very well-written (particularly the first part. I was heavily involved with Haven’s experiences in her marriage), had engaging characters so all in all, I thought it was very good.
Other reviews: Let’s just say this book swept the board.