Review: Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas.

Posted April 17, 2009 by Rowena in Reviews | 10 Comments

Hero: Jack Travis
Heroine: Ella Varner
Grade: 4.75 out of 5

Jack Travis leads the uncomplicated life of a millionaire Texas playboy. He makes no commitments, he loves many women, he lives for pleasure. But no one has ever truly touched his heart or soul. Until one day, a woman appears on his doorstep with fury on her face and a baby in her arms. It seems Jack is the father and this woman is the baby’s aunt. The real mother has abandoned the child to her more responsible sister. And now, Jack is being called upon to take responsibility for the first time in his life.

I read this book for this month’s Contemporary Romance Challenge hosted by Brie.

Lisa Kleypas wrote another winner for me. I fell right into this book with an ease that shouldn’t surprise me since this is an LK. I really enjoyed this book and was disappointed that I read it so fast. I can never get enough of the way that Lisa Kleypas can spin a story.

Ella Varner hasn’t had a very easy life. She’s had to work for every bit of happiness she’s got because of the shoddy childhood she’s had. She’s got a very self centered mother who thinks the world rises and sets with her and then she’s got a troubled sister who is all screwed up thanks to the fine childhood they had. Ella tried to distance herself from her selfish mother and emotionally unstable sister but finds her self headed back to Houston to take care of the young infant that Tara left with their mother.

Ella moved away to Austin because she needed distance to move on with her life. She needed to be far away from the people who brought her the most grief in life…mainly her mother. When she begins taking care of her young nephew, Luke, she never expected to fall in love with him or the guy she thought was his father. But she did, she fell in love with them both and this book told her story.

It’s hard for me to review this book without squealing like a lunatic because it’s only been a couple of weeks since I read Haven and Hardy’s book, Blue Eyed Devil and so Jack Travis is still fresh in my mind. I loved him and I was anxiously awaiting this book. When I met Jack in BED, I wanted to know more. I wanted to see more of him and I just wanted him. That womanizing man who is confidenet and a little arrogant but yummy all the same. He’s an honorable man with a good heart and good gosh, I love that man!

It was really easy to get caught up in this story. Jack and Ella were compelling characters that wormed their way into my heart and made me sigh with all the gooey goodness that was them. I really enjoyed getting to know the both of them and I enjoyed reading their journey to love.

I didn’t think that I would like Ella as much as I did because the whole troubled childhood thing usually pisses me the hell off with other heroines. There have been heroines aplenty who had messed up childhoods in other stories and then made boneheaded mistakes and decisions in their stories that they made me want to choke them out even though I understood why they were making those choices. Ella had her back up against a wall and she rised above it and handled everything. All by herself. I loved her independence and I loved the way that she was with Luke and everyone around her. Despite everything that happened to her and everything she went through when she was younger, she rised above it all and she moved on to build a completely content life for herself.

She wasn’t a TSTL heroine who had to control everything around her and make everyone miserable. She was caring and she was loving and Jack was blessed to have had her in his life.

But Jack, oh Jack. He was the reason I was itching to read this book. He was the reason that I zipped right through this book. He was the reason why I ended up really loving this book because Jack was the man. He’s a man’s man and I love those kind of men. The kind of men who aren’t afraid to show that they care about someong. The kind of men who go out of their way to get what they want and will go to any lengths to protect what is there. He didn’t shy away from pesky feelings and he didn’t give up easily. He was persistent and he sexy and he’s everything that I want in a man.

The way that he was with Ella and Luke made me sigh and wish he was real. The way that he loved Ella and bulldozed right over her insecurities to be there for her when she wouldn’t let him made me sigh some more and then smile. He was the stuff that us romance readers love about romance novels and he’s definitely what dreams are made of. The way that he handled Ella’s Mom and sister made me admire the hell out of him and the fierceness of his feelings for Ella (ex: Dane’s visit from Austin. His intense jealousy should have turned me off but it had the opposite effect, I LOVED IT!) had me in fits of lust for him. I fell hard for Jack Travis and he is by far, my most favoritest hero in this series. As much as I loved Gage and Hardy, for me it’s all about Jack Travis.

My only complaint about this book is that for the first time, I wanted the hero’s take on everything. I wanted to know what Jack was thinking at different points in this story. I wanted to know what was going through his mind the night that Dane came into town. I wanted to know how he was feeling when he was off fishing with Joe and Ella was left behind to deal with saying good bye to Luke. I wanted to know so much of what Jack was thinking and feeling that I chipped off some of my grade for this book. I felt like something was missing by not having Jack’s POV and that’s not something I missed in the other books, oh who am I kidding, I did wish to know what was going through Gage and Hardy’s minds but not as much as I did with Jack.

This book is good, really good. If you haven’t picked up this series to read then you’re seriously missing out. I have enjoyed reading each and every single book in this series but by far, SMOOTH TALKING STRANGER is my favorite. Other series by other authors seem to start off with a bang and decline as the series progress but not this series, with each book, they just keep getting better and better. If you haven’t picked these books up, run to the store and get them, you’ll definitely want to read these because they’re the bomb! This book doesn’t disappoint and it will have you salivating for more.

I am SO ready for Joe’s story…it is next, right?

Reading Order:

This book is available from St. Martin’s Press. You can buy it here.

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10 responses to “Review: Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas.

  1. Tabitha

    Aw, Wena, I was doing really well ignoring this book and your review is making me antsy again to buy it now. I need to wait for it to be released in paperback because I have the other two books in the series in PB and I want to collect them all in the same book formats.

    Do you know if it’s six months or a year until the book is released in PB? I can’t seem to find that out.

  2. Jack was definitely my favorite part of the whole book. Yes he was jealous and territorial and a “guy”, but he totally won me over, because he did it all for Ella. He just loved her to pieces, which made me fall completely in love with him. He’s definitely my favorite Travis. Sigh….

  3. Anonymous

    Wena – Nice review. I liked the book, but I thought there were a few loose plot threads at the end. For example, was the incident at the end of the book simply an accident or sabotage? Since nothing more was said about it, I assume it was the former. Also, the identity of the baby’s father was so obvious, yet Ella remained clueless.

    Finally, Lisa Kleypas announced on another website that Joe’s story is not next. She is moving on to another contemprary series set in Washington State. She said that she may come back to Joe or possibly Carrington in the future.

  4. Ok, I didn’t read your review cause I still have go out and find Blue Eyed Devil, but I just wanted to say I can’t wait to read the rest of the series. I don’t know why I took so long reading Sugar Daddy!

  5. Rowena


    I’m sorry sweets but it had to be done. I loved this book that much. You won’t be sorry when you finally read this book, that’s for sure. =)


    I hear you on that one. Jack is a really great hero and I can’t think of any way that LK can write a better story but I’m sure she’ll surprise us. She always does. =)


    I wasn’t too worried about the identity of the baby’s father. I didn’t care for Tara so anything having to do with her, I read but didn’t pay any attention to. The only thing I wondered about concerning Luke was if he would end up with Ella. That was it. As for the incident at the end, you know, you’re right. I had assumed that it would have been explained in Joe’s story but since his book isn’t next, I have no idea what’s up with it. Again, those didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book but very valid points. =)


    HURRY UP! Read this book so that we can gush but I must warn you right now that JACKTRAVISISMINEDAMMIT! Just sayin’. =P


    Ooh, I can’t wait to read your thoughts on these books. I.Love.Them.

  6. Great review Rowena – thank you! I can’t wait to read this book, but the law of the library requires me to me patient…so I’m trying 🙂

    And I happily deed you Jack…if I can have Joe *grin*

  7. Wow, great review! I have not read her books in contemp but love her historicals. Does she stay with the same strong sensuality as her historicals? I heard lots of goodies about these!

  8. I could not put this one down! I fell in love with Jack Travis from Smooth Talking Stranger and my heart won’t ever be the same 🙂 If you haven’t read it yet, buy it NOW!!!!

  9. Great review, Rowena. I read STS in about a day, which is practically unheard of for me. That alone is a testament to how smooth and captivating a story this is!

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