Saturday, April 10, 2010

Review: Smooth Talking Stranger -- by Lisa Kleypas

He answers to no one . . .No one has ever truly touched Jack Travis' heart or soul until Ella Varner comes 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, he ends up taking much more than that . . .
She trusts no one . . . Ella Varner is responsible and controlled. Her childhood has 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 Luke grows, Ella goes to Houston in search of the father. What she finds there will change her life forever . . .
Historical romance fans will recognize Lisa Kleypas as one of the past masters of the writing arts. She has thrilled us for years with her keen intellect, her ability to tell a darn good story, and her love of the historical novel art form. However, she has launched her readers into the world of the larger-than-life Travis family, and this present novel is the third in the series.
Into Jack's life comes this witty, seemingly sharp-tongued beauty whose rapid-fire responses and her no-nonsense approach to the matter at hand catches his attention. To Ella, Jack is beauty on the hoof but represents everything that is wrong with persons of the male persuasion. She has lived through her hair-brained mother's loves and live-ins, and she and her sister have become survivors of parental disregard as well as sexual abuse. No time in Ella's life for a playboy like Jack.
But the resolute and non-stop insistence of Ella that Jack clear himself through a paternity test begins to bring them together--at least geographically. When Ella's sister confirms Jack's assertion that they had never slept together, she relents and tries to look elsewhere for the baby's father, believing that her sister needs to confront him and bring him to heel financially. This story is somewhat a saga of Jack & Ella's growing friendship which began because of Baby Luke and whose presence and welfare appear to be the glue that holds them together, at least at first. Ultimately their relationship becomes personal and sexual, but Ella's awful mishandling by her self-centered mother keeps her bound to a set of presuppositions and persuasions about the nature of love and marriage and long-term commitment. Essentially they are not for her!!
Kleypas has done a magnificent job in dealing with contemporary issues that face many people today. The growing trend toward single parent families, the difficulties many have with long-term commitment, adult friendships with one's own parents -- whether they are even possible, and which is more dangerous: loving someone or refusing to love anyone?
The family dynamics in this novel are different, I am told, than in the first two books in this series. Yet the family is all there and while it focuses on Jack, the Travis clan are present as strong secondary characters and people who help Ella begin to re-assess the true nature of family and what it can mean as a support system. It is very heartening to see someone like Jack who has the "world on a string" begin to rearrange his priorities, decide who he wants in his life, open his heart to a helpless child, and grow and mature to meet the challenges of a permanent relationship. While Ella is strong and independent, she, too, needs to allow the old hurts to become a part of her past and not of her future.
This is a really good book! And while I have read the books in this series out of order, I am assured that this is not going to be detrimental to enjoying them and growing to respect and appreciate the members of the Travis family. I hope you all will read this book -- It's a great read. I give this book a rating of 4.75 out of 5


Tracy said...

I LOVE this book. It definitely got a 5 out of 5 from me. So good and I just love Jack so much. *sigh*

Hilcia said...

Ohhh, I loved this book and Jack. For some reason, I remember having a bit of a problem with Ella, but don't quite remember what my tiff with her was, lol! I think this was a 4.5 with Blue Eyed Devil coming in at a 5.0. Are you reading that one?

Dr J said...

Thanks, Hilcia, for stopping by and leaving your comments. I appreciate every single one. No, I haven't read Blue Eyed Divil, but I really like just about everything Kleypas writes so will look into getting that one. Thanks, too, for the "heads up."

Dr. J