Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Miss Kleypas, are you reading my mind? How do you get me where I live emotionally so easily? I felt as though reading this book you had delved deeply inside my psyche, laying my issues out for me to examine in the context of a character with whom I found myself identifying very deeply. You see, I too have control issues. I too am afraid to love deeply and to care, because when you do, you lose something, and you can't get it back. It seems so much easier to hide behind your fortress of heart.
Reading your book was therapy for me. Because it helped me to look at things and to realize that holding oneself in won't save you from hurt. It just makes you feel more alone and hurting than if you did open yourself to loving others.
You made me cry with Ella's feelings for Luke. I could feel from the beginning, that tender thread of love that blossomed in Ella's wary heart for that helpless bundle of humanity. Babies are the secret weapon, and I think you know that. How can you not love a baby, who looks up at you and knows only how to love and trust you? They sink beneath your skin and find your tender areas of the heart that you have no defense or protection for. And that love builds a bridge between them to you, and from there, to the rest of the world. Luke felt like the way to open Ella up so that she could love Jack. I also think that Jack fell for Ella because he saw who she truly was in the way she cared for Luke, because she forgot to keep up her armor up then. I totally, totally got that.
You also made me laugh with this story. I loved the dialogue and the conversations. They feel very genuine to me. Like people I know talk, like conversations I might have. Texas is my stomping ground, although not Houston so much. But this book felt just like the Texas I know, the folks I see and live with every day, even if I don't really know the richer echelons. But people are people, no matter what how much money they have. You captured that beautifully.
And the romance. Ma'am you have a gift for writing romance that blesses your readers. You capture that deep, irresistible powerful intensity of a love story--the steam, the emotional connection, the powerful bond between a man and a woman. This book is one of your more steamy ones, and you definitely had me fanning myself as I read.
As for Jack Travis--yeah, he's irresistible. He's a mix of charm, determination, and realness that a woman can't overlook. Ella stood no chance. I'm glad she didn't, because they were made for each other. I don't go for that slick ladies man type, but you crafted Jack with a substance that goes beyond the charm and the playboy exterior to make him a fully realized character. I liked his confidence, and I liked that he also had vulnerabilities. Even though he'd been hurt in the past, he didn't hold back from Ella. He gave of himself deeply, and that's what I love in a man. He's not just saying what you want to hear. He's there to back up his words. His actions show where his heart is. Yeah, he played around in the past. In theory, that doesn't appeal to me in the slightest. But, on a realistic level, you take the good and the bad, the experiences that make a person who they are, and you love them for the unique creation that they have been made into by the experiences that have shaped them, along with their intrinsic core. That was my long, drawn-out way of saying that I loved Jack for who he was in this story, and that was a complex mix that worked very well for this story. He needed to be that man to be the right man for Ella. Yes, I can see why Jack is a favorite of many of your fans. I still love Hardy the best out of this series. I just do. Hardy....that man makes me sigh. But Jack....he ain't the slightest bit shabby!
I was surprised at the fact that I think I love Ella even more than Jack. It helps that I walked around in her skin in this book. I told you earlier that I felt a lot of identification with her, not on a superficial level. But on a deeper level, in the arena of the psyche. It was cathartic to see her work through her issues, and gave me something to think about. I loved the way she loved Luke, and I loved the way she loved Jack. I loved that she was a loyal sister and a patient daughter to a very difficult mother who needed that kind of love from her daughter. I liked that she picked herself from the ashes of a troubled childhood, and made a good life for herself, and sought mental and emotional wholeness. If she hadn't started that before she ever met Jack and Luke, then those relationships wouldn't have had the same hopeful resolution. I'm glad that's not the case.
Once again, you've given me a great read, and hours of pleasure, but also a read that engaged me fully. Thanks again, Ms. Kleypas!
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