Monday, February 9, 2015

Reads for Writers: Smooth-Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas

From Kate’s Writing Crate…

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’m recommending Lisa Kleypas’ series about the Travis family: Sugar Daddy, Blue-Eyed Devil, Smooth-Talking Stranger, and the yet-to-be-released Brown-Eyed Girl. (It's now been released and Brown-Eyed Girl is NOT worth reading--a disappointing end to this enjoyable series.)

The head of this wealthy dynasty is self-made successful businessman Churchill Travis who has four children: Gage, Jack, Joe, and Haven. He demands a lot from his sons—hard work, successful careers, and business ownership. He leaves the raising of their daughter to her mother even as Haven tries to compete with her brothers.

I always recommend reading books in order to see the growth in characters and relationships. It's important in this series as a crucial character from book one plays a big part in book two.

Also, while the end of Sugar Daddy is especially romantic, I preferred the more in-depth plots in books two and three as well as many insightful asides. Ella, the lead female character in Smooth-Talking Stranger, is a writer so this is my favorite book in the series. Jack is a character introduced in Sugar Daddy who readers got to know much better in Blue-Eyed Devil.

          In Smooth-Talking Stranger, Jack Travis lives the good life: he works hard at the property management company he owns and plays hard—sports, hunting, and dating beautiful women who know the score.

          Ella Varner, bespectacled, cute, and petite, is not one of those women; however, her estranged younger sister, Tara, is model-beautiful and the mother of Luke, a newborn she claims was fathered by Jack. Tara, unable to cope with the baby, abandons him at her mother’s house. The mother in turn calls Ella, the responsible one in the family, to deal with the situation. If she doesn’t, her mother threatens to call the authorities—which is how Ella ended up four hours from home waiting for Jack Travis in his company’s reception area with a fussy baby.

          Jack knows he is not the father, but he admires Ella’s loyalty to her sister and nephew. He appreciates her humor and intelligence. And while she does not look like his usual girlfriends, she still captures all of his attention. He has finally met his match, but knows his usual moves won’t impress Ella.

          Ella is a bright, witty columnist who writes an explicit and hilarious relationship column for a national magazine. (See examples on pages 104 & 164.) She lives with her boyfriend, Dane, who owns a green energy company. They have a comfortable relationship, but he wants nothing to do with babies even on a temporary basis. Now Ella needs to relocate her life until all the details can be worked out with whoever is Luke’s father.

          Ella’s life has not been easy. “To my mother, Candy Varner, everything was an emergency. She was a shock-and-awe parent, the ultimate drama queen. But she had covered it up so adeptly that few people suspected what went on behind closed doors.” (page 2)

Tired of his wife’s tirades, her father left a few years after Tara’s birth, never to return, leaving a gap filled by Candy’s parade of new boyfriends and then a stepfather who tried to molest Ella and Tara. Candy didn’t believe that and blamed her daughters when he left. With a shared background of abuse and continued demeaning comments from their mother, the sisters grew up and went their separate ways to break free from this destructive cycle.

          “Neither of us seemed able to be close to anyone. Not even each other. Closeness meant the one you loved the most would cause you the most damage. How did you unlearn that?” (page 68)

          As an adult, Ella became independent and self-supporting. Then Luke appears in her life. “I had never been so wanted or needed by anyone on earth. 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.” (page 81)

How much of an effect will Luke have on her relationships when he becomes the center of her life—especially after her sister returns?

To Jack, Luke is part of Ella’s life. Used to caring for his niece and nephew, Jack is adept at caring for a baby. Jack is also thoughtful and funny. He's determined to have Ella in his life and Dane out of hers.

Ella knows Jack is serious about her. “…I was aware of a new kind of power, a seductive power, over someone who was stronger, worldlier, more unpredictable, more testosterone-fueled than any man I’d ever known before. It was like sitting behind the wheel to test a race car. Scary and exhilarating all at once, especially for someone who had never liked to travel fast.” (page 216)  

The book ends with a twist on Ella’s relationship column and a beautiful tribute to a marriage license—the power of words leads to a happy ending.

No comments:

Post a Comment