Break out the champagne. SMOOTH TALKING STRANGER is cool,
sophisticated and sexy. “You just haven’t found the
right guy yet” --- that is, until you’ve met a smooth
talking stranger. New York Times bestselling author Lisa
Kleypas brilliantly treats us to seductive Jack Travis --- in my
opinion, the perfect man. Jack is a fearless “sexy
tomcat” who knows who he is and what he wants and says what
he means. Kleypas seduces the reader, just as the “sinfully
sexy” Jack seduces Ella “with gentleness and strength,
with sex and charm and steely patience.”
Ella Varner’s life changes drastically from a sheltered
advice columnist, “Miss Independent,” living with a
selfish vegan boyfriend, Dane, to taking care of her sister
Tara’s newborn son, Luke. Traumatized by their childhood with
a drama queen mother who brought home a different man every night,
Tara abandons her three-week-old son at their mother’s and
checks into Mountain Valley Wellness. Ella races to Houston to
rescue little Luke before her mother turns him over to social
services. Luckily for Ella, this unforseen circumstance leads to
meeting the right man at the right time in her life.
Ella strikes out to find the father of Tara’s baby and
pays Houston playboy Jack Travis a visit that can only be her
destiny. “We usually learn the most about ourselves from
people who are different from us,” writes Miss Independent.
The effects of caring for baby Luke make Ella fall in love for the
first time. As she relaxes into who she really is, she is able to
examine her dead end relationship with Dane, leave the past behind,
and accept that Jack wants a relationship, not a one-night stand.
Jack’s hard businessman demeanor and take-control attitude
melt Ella’s wall of defenses, along with his “dazzling
grin” and a seductive body --- a man’s best weapon for
rescuing a damsel in distress.
Kleypas did her homework on the wealthy, male Texan species.
Every male character is described with such sex appeal that it
makes the reader want to pack up and move, as if smooth talking
strangers were on every corner. Everything in Texas is big,
including the male ego that makes women melt when they are the
subject of smoldering glances and ravenous desires of the Travis
“He had an irresistible combination of vitality,
confidence, and masculinity, blended like some perfectly
proportioned cocktail.” Ella recognizes Jack as a man
“who could break my heart” but is captivated by his
attentions, his acceptance of Luke even though he isn’t the
father, and “saturated with lust.” Jack offers a
security that Ella has never known, and the personal endearment
“darlin’” is erotic in itself.
The secondary characters are equally sexy and inviting.
Jack’s sister, Haven, quickly becomes Ella’s best
friend and enjoys the attentions of her fiancé, Hardy, a
rangy, muscular roughneck with a “surplus of sex appeal and
the bluest eyes I had ever seen.” Hardy has a gentleness that
nourishes Haven’s soul after her escape from an abusive
marriage. Jack’s father, Churchill Travis, exudes charisma
that “clung to him as if it had been rubbed in like
sunscreen.” There is no mistaking that brothers Joe and Gage
belong to the virulent Travis male species.
The novel conveys that we should take risks, in love and in
life. Trusting our instincts and emotions to “someone who
rattles you a little” is a good thing. Jack was from one of
the wealthiest communities in the nation in Houston, and Ella was
from a small town in Austin, worlds apart in every way. But in the
glittering crowd of a Houston party for Churchill Travis, Jack only
has eyes for Ella. Their chemistry ignites fireworks, resulting in
an intimacy that bonds and holds promise.
Ella enjoys the champagne and pocket yacht lifestyle of
Jack’s world, but her focus is on providing a loving
environment for baby Luke. Luke’s dependency on Ella suddenly
makes Miss Independent fiercely aware that she is relaxing into a
relationship with Luke and Jack. Her childhood fears and
determination to stay uncommitted to any man are diminishing in
Jack’s embrace. There is no drama with Jack; he is strong,
and Ella and Luke are safe with him.
Jack and Ella’s journey of love is intoxicating and a
must-read for every woman. SMOOTH TALKING STRANGER is one of my
favorite romance novels, and the reason is Jack Travis. Jack is the
right mixture of male strength and passion. It is time to toast the
smooth talking strangers with Jack Travis sex appeal --- now and
Reviewed by Hillary Wagy on January 23, 2011