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Sandy M’s review of Smooth-Talking Stranger (Travis Series, Book 3) by Lisa Kleypas
Contemporary Romance published by St. Martin’s 31 Mar 09

I’ve been wanting to read this book for more than a year now and something has always gotten in the way. But I’ve been keeping it close by lately so that when the right time popped up, I had it handy. Finally all worked out and I got to read about Jack Travis. I’ve been anticipating his story ever since reading tidbits about him in the earlier books of the Travis trilogy. While I love Jack as much as I thought I would, I have a smidgen of disappointment with a couple of other things about the book, however.

Now, I didn’t technically “read” Sugar Daddy and Blue-Eyed Devil. I listened to them in audio format and enjoyed them both immensely, BED a little more than SD. I keep wondering if maybe that has a bit to do with my disappointment in spots while reading STS. I really don’t know.

Jack, of course, is the star of this book for me. He’s right up there with Hardy Cates as my favorites of the trilogy. He’s definitely a ladies’ man, playboy to the core, but when he meets Ella Varner, his whole perspective about women and relationships change. And that’s what I love about him most. Though he has no immediate or even foreseeable future plans to bite the bullet for holy matrimony, he’s the one who is tenacious and goes after Ella full bore, wearing her down with all that sexiness and steamy lovemaking.

My issues with the story is the beginning when we learn about Ella and her family. I realize it’s needed so we see Ella as she is after her childhood. I just felt that along with her sister’s current problems and getting their background interspersed with it all, the first few chapters were just ho-hum as we dredged through their very dysfunctional family, all thanks to their mother. Also, I didn’t like the storyline as well as I did with the previous two books. It’s an okay story, don’t get me wrong. It just doesn’t stand up well to Blue-Eyed Devil and Haven’s amazing life and survival.

Ella does a credible job in the beginning of sticking to her guns for her plans to returning to Austin and her very comfortable boyfriend of eight or so years after three months of looking after her infant nephew, Luke. The poor tyke’s been dropped off, literally, by his mother at his grandmother’s home because that poor excuse of a mom just can’t deal with him and motherhood at the moment. It’s Ella who always steps in and makes things works, and this time is no different. Well, it’s different for Ella. She falls head over heels for Luke and knows her heart will be broken in about ninety days when Tara comes for her son.

Both these ladies have issues due to the way they were raised by their mother. She’s such a lovely piece of work. She had no business having children, which Ella and Tara know and still feel in every fiber of their being even as adults. Ella has her act together more than Tara, thus Tara’s lack of interest in her son, but Ella still has issues when it comes to love. That emotion’s never worked for her, save for Tara and now Luke. So she can do without it, just as she’s done for years now.

But Jack is having none of it. He pours everything between them on so thick from the beginning, Ella doesn’t stand a chance against this man. I didn’t either. He had me from word one, smile one, kiss one. He can do no wrong, per me. He’s definitely smooth. Ella melts and puddles with every touch and caress no matter how it’s delivered. I love Jack’s way of dealing with Dane, Ella’s current but recently out-of-the-picture boyfriend, and every time Ella defended the jerk, I wanted to shake her. But Jack took care of it all in a very Jack-like way.

And while I see how Ella comes out of her self-imposed shell of a life that I read about in the beginning, all because of Jack, it still doesn’t work that well for me. Maybe the combination of finding out about her family and her current situation with Dane is just too much negativity at one time for me – I have this thing about that in my books. And if it’s too much for a reader, you can imagine what Ella’s gone through her entire life. That definitely comes across like nobody’s business.

Besides Jack, what I had fun with is the humor from Ms. Kleypas. She had me laughing out loud a number of times. The first Miss Independent letter we get in the book had me giggling for several minutes. And the way Ella has learned to handle her mother is priceless, especially when keeping the woman away from her and Luke when she’d only stir up trouble. Also, Ella teasing Jack about her yoga legs caused tears due to all the laughter I couldn’t stop.

We meet up with all the previous characters from the series, finding out how they’re doing and what’s going on in their lives. I’m really curious why Joe Travis didn’t get his own book. He’s as charismatic as Gage and Jack and would make a good hero, especially after what he goes through in this book.

So even though I have a disappointment in the way some info is doled out, the overall book is a terrific read, and Jack is everything I’d hoped for. Ella too. Some girls have all the luck.

SandyMGrade: A-


Ella Varner has it all–a successful career as an advice columnist, a handsome boyfriend, and a circle of friends in Austin. When anyone has a problem, Ella knows the answers.

But one night she receives a call that changes everything. And as Ella’s world is turned upside-down, she meets a man who is the opposite of everything she ever wanted . . . a man who will offer her the most irresistible challenge she has ever known . . .

Read an excerpt.

Other books in this series:

Book Cover

Book Cover