Note: this book is not for those who are triggered by domestic abuse in fiction.
Blue-Eyed Devil is, I think, the second contemporary romance by Lisa Kleypas, who established herself as a writer of historical romance. I've read a few of her historicals and liked them, though she's not an autobuy for me. I was surprised by Blue-Eyed Devil.
For one thing, the book's in first person from the heroine's pov. That's pretty common in Chick Lit, not so much in contemporary romance or women's fiction (this book has elements of both, imo). I am a fan of first person when it's done well, and I think for this novel it was a good choice.
The book is set in Texas among a very, very rich family; the heroine, Haven Travis, is the youngest of four children, and the only daughter. She's especially close to her oldest brother, Gage, who was the hero of the previous book (I haven't read it yet). Shortly after Gage's wedding, Haven marries her boyfriend. The marriage rapidly spirals into emotional abuse, and later into physical abuse--that section is harrowing, even if you, like me, haven't had similar personal experiences. At the same time, it's gripping; perhaps because of the first-person pov, perhaps because I-the-reader had met the book's hero, Hardy Cates, and knew he was waiting in the wings.
Haven escapes the marriage and, after her divorce, becomes involved in reclaiming herself through therapy, through a new job (with a boss who turns out to be pettily abusive, with whom she learns to deal), and through an unexpected attraction to Hardy. Hardy built up a fortune from nothing and is a fairly enlightened, old-school romance hero who enjoys taking care of women, and has been smitten with Haven since they met. I liked him a lot, and enjoyed their ensuing romance with its difficult conflicts relating to her bad marriage experiences. I enjoyed the way Kleypas wrote their sex scenes, something I can't always say!
The last section of the book brings on conflict with the return of the evil ex-husband, who's escalating his violence, and the increased cartoonishness of the evil boss. At that point, I was a little disappointed. Many contemporary romances (and historicals!) have suspense plots to bring in outside conflict once the romantic relationship is well-established. I'm tired of grand climaxes like that. So even though it was done well, the last section of the book was least rewarding for me.
I still think the book is worth reading.