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book cover Limecello’s review of Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas
Contemporary romance released by St. Martin’s Press on 31 Apr 09

I read this book in less than five hours. I read it instead of writing my thesis/article which was due the next day. I think this book may have moved Lisa Kleypas to the top of my favorite authors list. This is an A+ book. I really don’t like books written in first person, yet I adored this book. Smooth Talking Stranger is the third book in Ms. Kleypas’s Travis family series – her first contemporary series, and it’s my favorite of the three, and possibly one of my favorite books.

Ella Varner is a fantastic heroine. She’s smart, kind, warm, incredible, and damaged. I was continually impressed with her throughout the book. Ella is clearly the shining star in her family, yet it’s nice that she’s so real and human. You have to respect her for putting her life on hold and taking care of her sister’s abandoned baby. Then, even more for keeping her head on straight and being so pragmatic. I want to be like Ella when I grow up.

I also loved her wicked sense of humor and the fact that she can stand up to Jack and doesn’t take his crap. I also appreciated the fact that Ella was willing to be honest with herself. I felt that I really understood who she was, and why – and that really made the book incredible. Ella is also sensible, and there never was a time that I felt she was being stupid, which was a refreshing change of pace to so many novels. (Although her being vegan at the beginning of the book didn’t quite jive.)

Jack Travis may just be my favorite member of the Travis family. I like how he knows what he wants, and goes after it. Jack is also satisfyingly deep. It’s nice that he’s so perfect, and in control, able to bend and shape the world how he wants – but… vulnerable. It was also enjoyable that he’s a character that falls in love both deeply, and quickly. I think I may have found a new favorite type of hero. Jack is a lot of fun because he knows he’s being pushy, and possibly even a little chauvinistic, but does it anyway to get his way. He’s like an incredibly sexy, perfect, naughty boy who gets his way with his charm – but you don’t mind giving in to him. (Have I mentioned how excited I am to read about a hero who is willing to fall in love, and realizes that he is in love? Fantastic.) He’s also smooth, charismatic, ridiculously wealthy, and sweet.

I positively melted – and definitely squee-d when I read the “letter” Jack writes to Miss Independent near the end of the book. I really want to post it here – but don’t want to have any spoilers. You need to read it for yourself. And you’ll die a little because it’s just that perfect. Ella and Jack have a great relationship – from the moment they meet, to the very last page. They’re so different, yet similar, and fit perfectly. I like that they’re a little wary of each other, and that the relationship develops rather normally and is genuine. The banter, and their interaction, are great and flow naturally. They also have a great physical relationship – and it’s cute how Jack seduces Ella. And hot.

The only thing that might have bothered me was how toxic Tara Varner and Candy Varner can be. However, Ms. Kleypas did an excellent job there as well. Both characters are believable, and not over the top. It’s unfortunate that such people exist, but in my opinion, Tara and Candy were incredibly realistic and believable as written. In terms of characterization, I was never fed up with their actions or personalities. (Well, for complaints, maybe also that the cover flap summary has a few misstatements.)

I also loved the secondary characters and the cameo appearances they made. Living at 1800 Main, it was perfect for Ella to form friendships with Haven and Hardy. I also liked how the other Travis’s were brought in, and the fact that they all blended well. The personalities and stories work, and really make Smooth Talking Stranger come alive. The other characters and plot lines all fit together perfectly to highlight the developing relationship between Ella and Jack. I have to admit this book was different from what I was expecting – so that may have colored my view, but honestly, I loved it.

I cannot wait for Joe’s book. I know it’ll be about a year, so I plan on re-reading Smooth Talking Stranger. Possibly next week. I was inspired to write a review minutes after I put the book down, but I know my opinion won’t change. This book was fantastic and probably the best one I’ve read this year.

I recommend this book to everyone. I don’t care if you like historicals, or don’t read contemporaries, or dislike first person point of view. You should give Smooth Talking Stranger a chance. You’ll hopefully likely be pleasantly surprised.

LimecelloGrade: A+

Read more reviews and info by following the book tag here.

He answers to no one…
No one has ever truly touched Jack Travis’s heart or soul… until Ella Varner come along. She appears one day on his doorstep with fury in her eyes and a baby in her arms. Her troubled sister is the mother and, according to Ella, Jack Travis is the father. But when Ella demands that Jack take responsibility for the first time in his life, e ends up taking much more than that…
She trusts no one…
Ella Varner is responsible and controlled. Her childhood taught her that love is fleeting and best avoided. That is, until baby Luke appears on her doorstep after her reckless sister, Tara, abandons him. What Luke needs now is stability, and Ella’s determined to do what is best for him. As her bond with the helpless child grows stronger every day, Ella goes to Houston in search of the father. What she finds there will change her life forever…
And when things heat uip between these two, the time for talking is long gone…
Read an excerpt here.

Other books in the series:

Book Cover Book Cover