Title: Smooth Talking Stranger
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Series: Travis Family, #3
Published: March 31, 2009 (St. Martin's Press)
Rating: Stay Up 'til 2 AM
Format: Hardcover, borrowed from the library
Summary: Ella Varner is responsible and controlled. Her childhood taught her that love is best avoided. That is, until she’s left holding her reckless sister’s baby. What Luke needs now is stability, and Ella's determined to do what is best for him. As her bond with the baby grows stronger every day, Ella confronts the man her sister claims is the father: Jack Travis.Although I had read Smooth Talking Stranger twice before, I decided to re-read it again for this review. It had been too long, I had never taken notes on it, and I did not want to produce a half-hearted review. This is one of my all-time favorite series! And I have the honor of reviewing the last one, after Racquel and Alexa reviewed the first two. Best decision ever! I picked it up, only to devour it in a few hours, in one sitting (minus a quick break to fix my lunch).
Billionaire, savvy businessman, and all-around ladies’ man, Jack Travis has a reputation as big as the state of Texas. No one has ever truly touched his heart or soul...until Ella Varner comes along. With a baby in tow, an independent streak, and her incredible practicality, Ella is unlike any woman he has ever known. But she may be exactly what he needs.
When I read Smooth Talking Stranger for the first time, I was all prepared for it to be my least favorite of the bunch. Random baby? Worst cover of the three by far? Yeah, there was no way it was living up to Sugar Daddy or Blue Eyed Devil, both of which were out-of-this-world amazing. Little did I know. I should have known better than to underestimate Lisa Kleypas.
My love for this book runs deep. Although I could probably ramble for three or four times the length or my "average" review, I will try to contain myself (but if you'd like to discuss further, feel free to comment! I will definitely be up for it).
Ella was a great heroine! I loved that she had self-worth and ideals, and she stuck to them. At the same time, she was willing to compromise on some things when she realized she was wrong or believed them for the wrong reason. She was practical, logical, and responsible, but she had issues with developing true intimacy, due to growing up with her mother's behavior and endless string of boyfriends. Thus, she was both the best and worst person to find motherhood suddenly thrust upon her.
But Ella dealt with it in a way that was impressive and believable. She learned that it's not the end of the world accept help or to open up to someone. Her storyline with Luke runs a very close second to her relationship with Jack as my favorite thing about this book. Luke was adorable, and I loved watching the bond between them grow.
I fell head over heels for Jack Travis. When I think of the Travis series in the context of Book Boyfriends, Hardy Cates tends to be the first one that comes to my mind. But I always forget how much I love Jack (and Gage, too, albeit to a slightly lesser extent). Jack was a business man and a playboy, entirely Alpha. Ella did not want to like him because he made her uncomfortable, and was the kind of man she usually could not stand. But he was kind, funny, and amazingly sexy, and as she got to know that, their relationship began to turn. Jack and Ella's chemistry was unbelievable, and they played off each other perfectly. Each of them was what the other never knew they needed.
Smooth Talking Stranger is more than a romance. It is a story about commitment, family, motherhood, relationships, responsibility, and love of every kind. Also, the end makes me sob happy tears every time. It is so good. I highly recommend this one.
Quick note before you go out, buy this book, and read it. Although it could definitely be read as a standalone, I highly recommend reading the first two books in the series before reading this one. You will enjoy it so much more!
Bonus point! Smooth Talking Stranger was, until recently, believed by many to be the last in the Travis series. Some of us stubbornly held onto hope that Joe, the last Travis sibling, would get a book. And four years later (two weeks ago), Lisa Kleypas announced that it was actually going to happen! If you happened to hear a loud noise or sense a disturbance in The Force on June 19, that was the sound of Racquel and me screaming together from opposite sides of the globe.“You always tell people to face their problems.”
“Yes, but I prefer to ignore mine and let them fester.”
He could probably get a woman pregnant just by winking at her.
Babies were dangerous...they made you fall in love before you knew what was happening. This small, solemn creature couldn’t even say my name, and he depended on me for everything. Everything. I’d known him for little more than a day. But I would have thrown myself in front of a bus for him. I was shattered by him. This was awful.
I reflected that for all the people you lost touch with or couldn’t hold on to, life occasionally made up for it by giving you the right person at the right time.