January 11, 2012

book review: smooth talking stranger

Title: Smooth Talking Stranger
Author: Lisa Kleypas

In Smooth Talking Stranger, the heroine learns to act on her own wants and desires rather than those of others — and she lands two guys in the process.

Ella Varner is an advice columnist who lives in Austin with her vegan boyfriend. (She became a vegan, too, though she really craves steaks, hamburgers and everything else a good Texas girl would want.) Her life is going along smoothly, if a little uneventful, until family drama gets in the way. Her little sister abandons her newborn son with their mother, and Ella must either come care for him herself or the child's welfare will be at stake.

Ella quickly rushes to Houston to temporarily care for baby Luke while locating the child's father. When rumor has it the baby's daddy is Jack Travis — an extremely wealthy, successful and hunky man — life gets even more complicated. Especially when the attraction between Ella and Jack becomes too strong to ignore.

Together, Ella and Jack care for Luke while trying to find the baby's father. Ella, who never really wanted children before, also becomes more in touch with her maternal instincts while raising Luke.

The book was fast-paced and easy to follow. I actually listened to it during a road trip, and was so interested in the story I listened to the final disc in my hotel room.

This story was also super sexy. Not knowing anything about the book when I grabbed it at the library, I'll admit I was a little shocked about halfway through during a particular parking garage scene. While driving through the middle of nowhere, I didn't know whether to blush or light a cigarette when the scene was finished — and I'm not a smoker.

Despite the super sexiness, the story also managed to tackle difficult issues, such as abuse, neglect and the struggle to overcome problems in the past.

The characters were engaging and likable, and they truly came to life. Kleypas also developed the setting well. I lived in Houston for a year, and her well-used descriptions took me back.

I had some problems with the ending. Parts of it seemed random and rushed, but the conclusion was ultimately satisfying.

This was the third in a series of Travis family stories, but it stands alone well on its own — which can't always be said of series. This was my first Kleypas read, and I had no knowledge of the others going into it, but that did not keep me from enjoying the story.

I received an ARC of an upcoming Kleypas book, and I look forward to reading it thanks to the standard set with this one.

Rating: 4 of 5

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