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The Travis Family #3

Smooth Talking Stranger

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A sinful attraction.

Jack Travis leads the uncomplicated life of a millionaire Texas playboy. He makes no commitments, he loves many women, he lives for pleasure.

But no one has ever truly touched his heart or soul. Until one day, a woman appears on his doorstep with fury on her face and a baby in her arms. It seems Jack is the father and this woman is the baby's aunt. The real mother has abandoned the child to her more responsible sister. And now, Jack is being called upon to take responsibility for the first time in his life. 

With delicious romantic tension, characters so real they walk onto the page and into your heart, Lisa Kleypas delivers the kind of novel that makes you laugh, love, cry and cheer. 

352 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published January 1, 2009

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About the author

Lisa Kleypas

108 books28.4k followers
LISA KLEYPAS is the RITA award-winning author of 21 novels. Her books are published in fourteen languages and are bestsellers all over the world. She lives in Washington State with her husband and two children.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,125 reviews
Profile Image for Baba  .
859 reviews3,873 followers
May 31, 2012

"I respect you," he murmured. "And your views. I think of you as an equal. I respect your brains, and all those big words you like to use. But I also want to rip your clothes off and have sex with you until you scream and cry and see God."


Hot damn! I loved the story and I loved Jack! What a smooth talking guy…ah, be still my little heart…*happy dance*

Ella Varner, living and working in Austin, Texas, is the infamous Miss Independent, a columnist. She is happy with her life and is living together with her boyfriend Dane. Then one day her life turns upside down when Ella’s younger sister, Tara, gives birth to a baby boy, named Luke. Ella is ‘forced’ to take care of him because Tara has a mental breakdown. Therefore she has to undergo a treatment at a mental health clinic. Her calm and very organized life changes in a major way. Ella has to learn how to take care of little Luke.

"Where's your instruction manual?" I asked him. "What's the baby customer-service number?"

Formula bottles, feedings, diapers, sleep deprivation and of course the baby are ever-present. On top of that, Ella wants to know who fathered Luke. When Tara says that wealthy playboy, Jack Travis, is the father, Ella embarks on a mission…straight to Houston and into Jack’s life. Although Jack is telling Ella that he is not Luke’s father, Ella wants a paternity test and Jack agrees.
From the get-go Ms. Kleypas was able to draw me into the story which flows very smoothly. The characters are well-drawn and interesting. While Blue-Eyed Devil was an intense story with a very disturbing background, Smooth Talking Stranger is such a fun ride. The book is filled with lots of wonderful banter, great dialogue, and laughter. Admittedly, some parts of the story are very serious but overall Smooth Talking Stranger is enveloped by a lightness that I adored. Oh, Jack…yeah, what an incredibly hot hero--sexy as all get out! Gosh, he is such a smooth talking guy, that’s for sure.

"Unbelievable," I said in disgust.
"What's unbelievable?"
"Your ego. It's surrounded by its own cloud of antimatter. You're a black hole of…of hubris!"
"Are you amused?" I demanded. "What the hell is so funny?"
"I was just thinking if the sex with you is one-tenth as fun as arguing with you, I'll be one happy bastard."
I really appreciated to see how Ella came to love little Luke. She fell so hard for the tiny and cute man. This woman who had to start off in such uncharted territory did a fine job with the little baby. From uneasiness to love. It was totally sweet to watch these two…well, three actually (including Jack). Sometime he will be an amazing dad. This story epitomizes romance. Smooth Talking Stranger displays real, deep and heartfelt love. I loved the playfulness and the intense passion. Their relationship develops from initial attraction into real friendship, trust, passion and ultimately strong love. Jack is such a fabulous charmer--he is seducing Ella with hilarious dialogue, a rich and smooth voice, sizzling glances, arousing touches…and a spectacular body. The sex? Let me think about it…oh, now it dawns on me. I remember that I adored the sizzling hawt garage quickie! Seriously, the love scenes are well-written and I loved the utterly intimate and sexy kissing and touching. YUM!

"I don't even get cheesy seduction music?"
Jack shook his head. "I usually do this a cappella."
"You mean unaccompanied?"
"No, I haven't done this unaccompanied since I was fourteen."

The way Ella handled the

What annoyed me
Tara. She is very naïve and selfish. Tara is the opposite of responsible. She prefers to *shakes head*

Well, after reading Blue-Eyed Devil and Smooth Talking Stranger I am already a fan of Ms. Kleypas' work. I'm looking forward to reading more from this author. Smooth Talking Stranger has many swoon-worthy moments. It's a wonderfully penned and highly entertaining read. Enjoy!
Profile Image for Auntee.
1,297 reviews1,394 followers
August 13, 2011
No summary, just some thoughts...

Ohhh, where do I begin? All my GR friends said "wait until you get to Jack's book"...and you all were right! I adored milionaire playboy Jack Travis--he was absolute perfection! To tell you the truth, I thought it might take a while for him to win me over, since I expected him to be sort of a shallow man-slut. I was surprised that he put that all behind him and was ready for something different when he met advice columnist Ella. I wish I knew what it was exactly that made Ella so attractive to him (besides what he tells Ella--how he admires her for taking care of her sister's baby and how he likes arguing with her). This is where I really felt that dreaded first person POV--it didn't bother me most of the time but there were times where I was dying to get inside Jack's head! Sometimes words just aren't enough--I needed his thoughts too!

Just add some chest hair, and this could be Jack…

Ella didn't win me over right away--she sort of grew on me. She was a little too stubborn about some of her beliefs about love and marriage and a little too independent. I realize she had it rough as a child (what a winner that mother of hers was!) but I wanted her to really want Jack like I did! LOL! I loved seeing her fall in love with baby Luke though.. I thought all the parts LK wrote about Ella's feelings towards Luke really rang true. And when she finally gave the idea of having a real relationship with Jack a chance, that's when I softened towards her. I felt bad for her when she thought to herself I lose everyone I care about, sooner or later. No wonder she never wanted to put her heart on the line. I think Ella underwent a real transformation in this book, and became a much more likable and sympathetic character as the story progressed and she opened herself up and became more vulnerable.

I loved Ella and Jack together. I loved how he didn't push her beyond what she was ready for, but was there for her always. He was patient, strong, generous, and so darn sexy! Loved him with baby Luke too. Made me forget all about Hardy! And oh God the love scenes? Red hot, and way more numerous (and inventive) than in the previous books!

I have no real complaints about this book or series. Lisa Kleypas is probably one of the few authors skilled enough in her storytelling to make me forget (most of the time) that these stories were all told in the dreaded 1st person POV. I will admit that there were times where I thought how wonderful would it be if I knew what Jack was thinking...but that would just be like the cherry on top of the whipped cream. It would've made a delicious story even more delicious. So I won't complain, and I'll be satisfied that LK served up one fantastic story, a very likable couple, and especially one yummy hero. So he wasn't covered in whipped cream and with a cherry on top...Jack Travis was still one tasty treat! 5 stars
Profile Image for Shawna.
3,551 reviews4,578 followers
August 8, 2022
Reread/listened to audiobook version Aug'2022:

5++ Contemporary Romance

Original rating/review:

5+ stars – Contemporary Romance

Boy oh boy did I love this book!! “Smooth Talking Stranger” is a sinfully decadent treat for contemporary romance lovers! It’s like Godiva for chocolate lovers and a good French roast for coffee lovers...just yum!

I loved “Sugar Daddy”, despite that it leaned more towards chick-lit and really liked “Blue-Eyed Devil”, even though it was heavy on the drama and lacked Hardy’s viewpoint, but “Smooth Talking Stranger” is straight up romance and nice and steamy, just the way I like it!

Bachelor playboy Jack Travis is positively delicious...pure male and completely irresistible. Miss Independent Ella Varner tries mighty hard to resist his charms, but she’s delusional if she thinks for one minute that would ever work against a sexy, sweet, confident, enticing man’s man like Jack. I kept screaming...girl, if you don’t hurry and snatch him up you are crazy!

There are so many funny, tender, sexy moments in this book that it’s impossible to do it justice. The banter between Ella and Jack is a real delight. And good lord, the scenes with Jack caring for and playing with the baby nearly made me faint! He’s just absolutely swoon-worthy! There’s really no other way to describe him.

Ella hales from Austin (where I happen to live) and Kleypas’s description of the hippie Austin boyfriend Dane, with his hemp shirt and Birkenstocks, cracked me up because it’s just so true. Being an independent-minded, liberal vegetarian living in the conservative Lone Star State myself, I identified a lot with Ella’s character, but knew she stood no chance against a force like Jack Travis! He could pursue me any day girlfriends!

Even if you didn’t care for “Sugar Daddy” and/or “Blue-Eyed Devil” or avoided them because of the mixed reviews, don’t miss out on the sheer pleasure that is “Smooth Talking Stranger”, and I think it would be okay as a stand-alone novel. It’s utterly delightful and a contemporary romance lover’s dream...big 5 stars!
Profile Image for Christy.
3,923 reviews33.1k followers
June 25, 2020
4 stars


Smooth Talking Stranger is the third book in the Travises series and it’s about Jack Travis. I’ve been interested in Jack since the start of this series and I was so excited to get his book! 

Jack is a bit of a playboy, but really, he’s just not found the right girl. When he meets Ella, he’s shocked to say the least. Ella tracks Jack down because she wants a paternity test for her newborn nephew who her sister has abandoned. Jack knows there is no way he is the father, but he humors her and helps her out.

A little help turns into a lot of help and Ella is not the kind of girl who’s used to needing help. She and Jack become fast friends but you can tell there is more there. They’re both interested, though things are really complicated. I had no idea how this book would go, but I loved the way it turned out!

Lisa Kleypas writes some fantastic contemporary romance. I’ve enjoyed this series so much, I’m only sad that there is just one book left! I can’t wait to read about Joe Travis and I’ll be getting to that one soon!
Profile Image for Amy | Foxy Blogs.
1,476 reviews975 followers
May 26, 2015
Smooth Talking Stranger was a book I’ve been holding off reading for the last 2 years because I knew the 4th book didn’t have a release date. Brown-Eyed Girl finally has the release date of August 11th (http://amzn.to/1HGMoyP). Now, I'm finally caught up in the series for the release of this book.

”Babies were dangerous… they made you fall in love before you knew what was happening.”
Ella receives the call no one wants… the one that makes you decide what's really important in your life. Ella’s sister, Tara, has dropped off her 1 week old baby at her mom's house. Mom has never been a motherly figure to the girls. She's always been about herself and how she can land a rich man to take care of her. Ella's forced to take on the baby, Luke, for the next 3 months while Tara's getting mental health help at an institution. Sounds simple right?

”You’re not your sister’s keeper."
Unfortunately, the boyfriend, Dane, wants no part in keeping the baby for the next 3 months. He thinks Ella's family manipulates her and she'd be better off without them. But Ella can't turn her back on the abandon baby. All through Ella & Tara's childhood they were neglected because of a lack of motherly support and no fatherly figure in their lives. Ella has always been the one to pick up the pieces for Tara. That’s what bonds them together… knowing Ella will be there for Tara.

”I’m a public sinner with a ton of money. Any church would want me.”
Here is where Ms. Kleypas shines...writing alpha males. Jack Travis is no exception to this rule because he is one sexy alpha male. Jack is the opposite of Ella’s boyfriend who is in another state holding to their open relationship philosophy. Ella and Dane have made their relationship about no rules and no promises to each other. Once Jack meets Ella, when he's accused of being the baby’s father, he is intrigued by her moxie. She’s not the usual woman he meets who's just after his money and family name. She’s someone who is loyal and loving and isn't looking to be a trophy wife.

You can have your cake and eat it too.
Ella never wanted children and she definitely didn't plan to ever marry. Her childhood was no picnic in the park and left her jaded towards having those types things. Feeling safe and secure was her main goals in life and she accomplished that with being a career woman and having a ‘safe’ boyfriend. But the presence of Luke, Tara’s baby, made Ella reevaluate the path her life was heading. As luck would have it, Jack was not easily dissuaded by Ella's constant pushing him away. As reader we could see that Jack was exactly what Ella needed to start challenging her life. The getting out of her head and actually living a life that came with risk was the best healing of past transgressions she could do.

Sugar Daddy (Travises, #1) by Lisa Kleypas Blue-Eyed Devil (Travises, #2) by Lisa Kleypas Smooth Talking Stranger (Travises, #3) by Lisa Kleypas Brown-Eyed Girl (Travises, #4) by Lisa Kleypas
Continuing story where secondary characters from the first book become the main focus in subsequent books.
Book 1 - Gage Travis | Book 2 - Haven Travis | Book 3 - Jack Travis | Book 4 - Joe Travis

descriptive text here
Profile Image for ♥Sharon♥.
971 reviews142 followers
April 6, 2015
Okay, apparently I am a pretty fickle woman. With each Travis Family book I have read, I have fallen in lust with Gage, Hardy (though his isn’t a Travis) and now Jack. Honestly I can’t make up mind which one of them I lust the most because each story as been pretty FANTASTIC.

Have you read any of these books? If you haven’t then you are missing out. I’m serious. It doesn’t matter which book you start with. They don’t need to be read in any particular order (IMO) because Lisa Kleypas does an amazing job of weaving everyone into the story without giving away anything important from their own stories.

In Smooth Talking Stranger we get Jack Travises story. He is the middle son of Churchill Travis. He enjoys his life and the women in it. Things were pretty simple for Jack. That is until he meets Ella Varner. She was unexpected and a bit of a whirlwind.

Jack ~ WOW. Just WOW. He certainly was a smooth talking guy. He was also hot, sexy, sweet and incredibly charming. He was a Travis so of course he was successful and wealthy too. But there was a simplicity about him that was irresitable. I loved that it was his smile that sent tingles to every part of Ella.

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Ella ~ She was something special. She was fun. She was strong and such a beautiful person on the inside and outside. Life had left her a little skeptical when it came to love and happiness. She was living a life that was comfortable and safe. But things were about to change in ways that she never expected.

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Ella finds herself in a situation that she has no choice with. Because she loves her sister Tara, though she is very self-centered and selfish, she finds herself taking care of Tara’s newborn son Luke. What swirls around Tara is a bit unsettling and Ella is determined to do what is right for Luke.

Trying to find Luke’s dad brings her to the doorstep of Jack Travis. But Ella soon finds out that nothing is as it seems. Her life with Luke becomes filled with more than just sleepless nights, dirty diapers and endless bottles. In the middle of all the chaos she finds a man that does funny things her heart.

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Life has a funny way of unfolding. Ella never planned to have a baby but now she has Luke. She never thought she would want to be a mom but she doesn’t know what she is going to do without Luke in her life. She also didn’t expect to meet a man like Jack. He made her want more in her life. He made her want him.

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I absolutely loved the connection and chemistry Ella and Jack had. Their relationship was filled with laughter, kindness and passion. The way that Jack seduced Ella’s mind and body was incredible. And the anticipation to their intimate moments was crazy! I loved every minute.

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I truly enjoy all things romance but I have to say Smooth Talking Stranger gave me a bit more than the traditional sexy romance story that I have come to love. This was such a heartfelt story. Watching Ella and Jack both change in ways both did not expect and little Luke being at the center of it all was wonderful. I loved this book and I highly recommend it!

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November 2, 2011
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!

Profile Image for Lau ♡.
417 reviews350 followers
June 29, 2023
Ella is living her dreamed quiet life. She has a soft boyfriend she can trust and her main problem is trying not to cheat on him with non-vegan food. Until a call from home puts everything outside down. Turns out her sister Tara had a baby and she has left the one-week old baby with their mom before she disappeared. Now Ella has to go take care of everything before her mom puts Tara's baby in foster care. She needs to figure out how to take care of a baby, find the father and make sure her sister, wherever she is, is okay.

She never wanted kids. She never wanted a man that has the potential to break her heart. But, looking for the baby’s father, she meets Jake Travis, and all her plans collapse before that dangerous smile…

There is something about Lisa Kleypas’ romances that screams my name. The way the heroine’s problems speak to you, how her heroes seem to materialize in front of you when they talk, making you daydream about them. I can see Ella not being everyone’s favorite heroine, but I understood her decision of taking the safest option, especially after the kind of childhood she and her sister endured. Being with someone who treats you well but whom you could keep living without is a good recipe to ensure you will not be hurt. But the safest option is hardly ever the happiest one-leave it to Jack to make her realize that maybe being madly in love is not so scary if you choose the right person to fall in love with.

There isn’t anything I would have changed from this book apart from missing the hero’s POV and Tara’s story being too convenient, but I’m aware Ella’s HEA wouldn’t have been complete without that. It may have been more realistic yet too bittersweet-and that’s not how Lisa Kleypas’ romances work.

I listened to it on audiobook and I couldn’t stop. The slow burn was sublime, Jack was the kind of hero you fall in love with at first glance and the heroine’s POV was so easy to understand. I loved how she slowly, almost by accident, fell in love with Luke, Tara’s baby, and how much it hurt that it wasn’t going to be hers forever. I also loved having Haven as a secondary character, seeing her interact with Ella, Travis and-of course- Hardin. The feeling of family was there and it meant so much for Ella, who has only known family as something that exchanged her love for emotional pain.

Overall, Jack Travis fulfilled all my expectatives, as well as Ella’s. I recommend this book if you are looking for a single-mom (kinda) romance with a womanizer finally deciding to settle down with a woman who will need a lot of convincing to change her views on relationships.

↬ Travises
1. Sugar Daddy: tbr
2. Blue-Eyed Devil: 3.5 stars
3. Smooth Talking Stranger: 3.75 stars
Profile Image for MelissaB.
725 reviews327 followers
July 15, 2015
Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas was a wonderful read. I loved the characters and the storyline. Ella was a heroine who I could identify with, especially about trying to help out your family and the constant guilt you feel when you can never do enough. She has a very complicated relationship with her sister but she is there for her when her sister needs her. Ella gets a call from her mother saying her younger sister left her newborn baby at the mother’s house and disappeared. Ella knows her mother cannot handle a baby, so she drives to Houston to try to figure out what is going on. Once there, she has to take over responsibility for baby Luke and try to figure out where her sister ran off to, along with finding out whom the father might be. Ella hears that Jake Travis, a rich local businessman, might be the father, so she goes to his office with Luke to demand a paternity test but he denies ever sleeping with her. Despite their rocky first meeting, Jack and Ella have a very powerful attraction to each other from the start. Jack finds an apartment for Ella and proceeds to help her as she adjusts to being a sudden mother to a newborn. Jack falls hard and fast for Ella but she has a lot of problems with commitment due to her bad childhood. Not to worry though, Jack is more than enough of a man to help her through her problems!

Jack Travis was quite a hero – he was sexy, responsible and the type of guy you would dream about having in real life. He loves Ella just the way she is and does everything he can to support and help her. He is a manly Texas man who loves hunting and fishing but he still helps with the baby and putting together a crib. I love the fact that he didn’t want Luke wearing pink socks or having a “girly” bunny rabbit, so Jack bought Luke a nice “manly” toy truck. I love how Jack was dominant and possessive toward Ella but he still gave her time and space to work out her feelings. There were a lot more love scenes in this book than the last two, which was great because Jack was quite a lover – nice and dominant in the bedroom just the way I like them. The whole story was sweet and wonderfully romantic, I loved reading it.

All three of Lisa Kleypas’s contemporary heroines have been wonderful. She manages to write women who I can identify with because I have some of the same life experiences. She does a great job characterizing the various feelings and emotions women go through as a result of bad childhoods and dysfunctional families. All of her heroes have been just amazingly sexy and powerful. I would have a problem choosing between them, but Hardy and Jack would have the top spots. Hardy was just such an overwhelmingly sexy man with a rough edge, while Jack was the sexy, dominant man who was always fun to be around. I can’t wait for Joe Travis’s story, I hope it’s as good as the first three Travis books!
Profile Image for Rachel  L.
1,869 reviews2,246 followers
November 29, 2018
4.5 stars!

“I think the busiest people are often the loneliest.”

Smooth Talking Stranger is the third book in the Travises series and it was such a delight to read. This book follows cynic Ella Varner, who finds herself the guardian of her newborn nephew rather abruptly. She thinks the father is Jack Travis and approaches him for a DNA sample. Jack Travis takes an immediate liking to Ella and begins pursuing her, much to her chagrin.

“I respect you," he murmured. "and your views. I think of you as an equal. I respect your brains, and all those big words you like to use. But I also want to rip your clothes off and have sex with you until you scream and cry and see God."

I was in the exact right place to read this book, I picked it up and never wanted to put it down. I love characters like Ella, I love in a romance novel when the woman needs convincing and the man is so sure of his feelings. Maybe because I hate wishy washy heroes, but Jack was just perfect. The heart of this story was Ella's relationship with her nephew Luke, and I found myself tearing up a few times when reading about them.

If you haven't read a Kleypas book yet (and I know who you are) you need to. She's the perfect escape from reality.

“Sometimes when we're not paying attention, relationships hap­pen.
There is no rule that requires two people in love to be ex­actly alike.
In fact, there is some scientific evidence to suggest that on a genetic level, the people who are the most opposite are the most likely to have a healthy and long-lasting pairing."

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Profile Image for ♡Karlyn P♡.
605 reviews1,221 followers
July 14, 2010
A wonderful steamy romantic story with a great and satisfying ending. The title really suites too! Jack was such a smooth talker. Yum. As with the other books in the series, there is an underline storyline of personal growth and recovery, but these characters weren't so deeply damaged emotionally as the characters in the previous books. I loved the realistic feel of their relationship from the start. Thier growing together, and finally the realization they are meant for each other. I just started to skim chapter one as I am already in the middle of another book, but I couldn't put this one down. Now I'll go back and finish my other book.
Profile Image for Mina.
325 reviews30 followers
February 10, 2017
Overall, the quality of the writing is good, with a good measure of humour and sweetness, but everything else is flawed or lacking. Ultimately, disappointing.

Something felt missing in the romance - especially with regard to characterization. The hero was little more than a cardboard cut-out, and it was never clear why he was initially attracted to the heroine. He does her some significant favours on the basis of an implicit attraction that we know is there simply because it has to be, but we get very little sense of what's causing it. The way he falls in love with her is believable, because it’s based on the time they spend together, but it's like the relationship starts out of nowhere. The heroine also mostly feels like a paper cut-out. Even though the narrative is in first person from her perspective, there seems to be little depth to her character. Not that she herself is shallow, but that we only superficially get to know her. Her sister and initial boyfriend, both of whom play important roles in the story, do not come across as real people, which doesn't help us get a sense of her as a person. Her terrible, one-note mother actually does, but she’s a stock character anyway.

Also I didn't find the heroine assertive enough when her sister makes completely unfair accusations about her being selfish and controlling - we're told the sister is in a mentally and emotionally vulnerable place and I respect that, but I think the heroine does herself and her sister a disservice by letting the truth slide on this issue. We're told that she herself has had helpful therapy and we can see that she's still got things to work out and that the romance is supposed to help her with it, but it was frustrating to see how little self-respect she still seems to have in dealings with her family. I expect a romance heroine to have her issues mostly solved or at least addressed by the end, otherwise the happy ending isn't believable. This heroine is in some ways still too fragile at the end.

The plot was a standard-feeling mix of stock situations, un-exciting but competently handled. The ending was utterly lacking in heft, though it did tie up loose ends as needed. The context of the sub-plot, with the “giga church” and her sister’s involvement with its leaders, was interesting to me. Good shorthand source for various elements of dramatic tension.

I get the appeal in depicting a heroine arriving at a sense of normality after a difficult and lonely early life, but I found Kleypas was aggressive and unsubtle about the definition of “normal.” The supposedly good contrast between the hero’s traditional masculinity and the initial boyfriend’s “alternative” character at times just made the hero stereotypical and unappealing. The boyfriend’s alternative lifestyle felt inconsistently and superficially developed - I found the random jabs at veganism an irritating and off-mark shorthand at establishing why we’re not supposed to like him, and in general his combination of attitudes and behaviour was unconvincing. Also, the idea that the heroine was in an open relationship for six years but didn’t know it is ridiculous - it makes her look clueless and immature.

There was some degree of “no means yes” when the hero insisted on intimacy and the heroine succumbed rather than actively conceding. Off-putting. She was sometimes good at setting boundaries, so points for that, and it does make sense that she was learning to adjust those boundaries. And of course the romance plot had to move forward. But none of that excuses the slightly skeevy feeling of the hero ignoring her when she says she wants to stop kissing etc.

I was aware enough of the preceding installments of the Travises series to feel comfortable with the continuing characters, but I don’t know how well-integrated they would seem to someone who didn’t know anything about the series.

NTS: This hero has IMO the proper kind of history for a historical romance rake, or at least he felt that way - fleetingly involved with lots and lots of women who are mostly easily accessible to him, knows his limits ie is scrupulous with regard to "innocents" (ie not taking advantage of the drunk sister)...the one terrible disappointment in the past adds depth, and of course he is incongruously gentlemanly, but as a hero he has to be. Mostly in it for the pleasure, but the whole thing is framed by that disappointment. 14 Jan/12

So basically he fits the mold of Damerel, who is apparently encoded as the archetypical rake in my mind. 13 Mar/12
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for  A. .
1,162 reviews4,279 followers
August 1, 2020
3.5 Stars

It started out promising, but soon got uneventful and repetitive. Just like in book 1, I wasn't emotionally invested - the development of the relationship was too superficial and the hero was too good to be true.

It was an okay read, which is disappointing. I wanted me some memorable old school romance but got a cliched, average story.

Profile Image for Mo.
1,363 reviews2 followers
April 28, 2020
In the end, I just didn't care about Jack and Ella. It all fizzled out ... I found it very repetitive! "Sex, diaper change, baby feeds, phone calls, chat about her childhood" and REPEAT! I just thought there was a complete turnaround for her ... and for him. One minute he is dating these skinnymalinkey model-types and the next he falls head over heels in love with Ella and cannot see his future without her and she was "Miss Independent" but she soon changed her mind about that.

Cute baby and it all worked out in the end ... I dunno, it just didn't float my boat this time. I do love this author and have loved most of her books, especially her Historicals.

Ten years ago I might have loved it but it just ended on a bit of a fizzle, not a bang, for me!

Profile Image for Clau.
849 reviews118 followers
March 6, 2019
Quizá es que me hacía falta una lectura ligera y rápida, pero Smooth Talking Stranger es mucho mejor de lo que me esperaba. Es una historia romántica a la que no le faltan sus clichés, pero está tan bien lograda que ni me importa.
Mi primer libro de Lisa Kleypas 💙 No creo que sea el último, aunque la verdad es que no me tincan mucho sus novelas históricas.
Recomendable, para quienes buscan un romance sin drama innecesario, con un buen ritmo, y una pareja bacán como Ella y Jack. Lo único que no me gustó fue la familia de Ella, pero entiendo que era necesario para la trama.
Quizá no es digno de las 4 ⭐️ (mi ranking sería 3.5, pero GR no lo permite). Qué puedo decir, me siento generosa.
Profile Image for Marisa Sauco.
302 reviews262 followers
December 15, 2016
Ternura + amor + pasión + risas... una combinación irresistible.
Es facilísimo enamorarse de Jack Travis, pero el personaje de Ella te roba el corazón. Adorables los dos. ¡Me encantó! ❤️
Profile Image for Lisa Kay.
924 reviews515 followers
February 17, 2012
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★★★★★ (Review of audiobook.) Good Gravy Beans, I LOVE this book. I’ve read it over a dozen times; so, of course, when the opportunity arose, I just had to do the “buddy read” of it with Jill (BTW, expect spoilers in that thread!). Since I had the brilliant idea of listening to the audiobooks of this series this time ‘round, I’ve been worried that one (or all) would let me down. No need for doubts here; I’m really happy I chose to “re-read” it with my ears.

Emily Durante is the narrator for this third installment of Ms. Kleypas’ Travises series. I had to get used to her reading, but that didn’t take long. I must admit I found subtle, unrealized things in the book when it was read to me. There is one spot where Ella apologizes to Jack; I always thought she should have done a better job of it. However, on the audio, Ms. Durante makes her sound quite contrite. Very nice.

Who am I to argue with Lady Jayne? She said, Auntee’s GoodReads review is the best, and I agree (though, I think I liked Ella better from the start than most people do). Auntee also has the best picture of Jack. **sigh** I always saw this picture as Joe, but since Ms. Kleypas tells us Joe is a younger version of Jack, I’ll happily go with it. (BTW, Auntee’s review has a larger picture. In case you want a close up. ☺)

Auntee wrote: “Just add some chest hair, and this could be Jack…”

Looking forward to Joe’s story!

Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypas Blue-Eyed Devil (Travises, #2) by Lisa Kleypas Smooth Talking Stranger (Travises, #3) by Lisa Kleypas
Profile Image for Annie .
2,452 reviews819 followers
April 28, 2011

It’s official now. I’m adding Jack Travis to my harem! There are now FIVE of LK’s heroes on that list, including Kev, St. Vincent, Craven and McKenna. Wow, talk about hot heroes!

Jack Travis is the ideal man. Throughout this entire book, I was hoping to find one flaw in his character and despite his bed-hopping past, I couldn’t find a single thing wrong with this guy! What I love about him the most is the fact that he doesn’t do things half-measure. He’s an all-or-nothing kind of guy, even when it comes to love. I loved that he pushed Ella to her limits, stepping on her toes when she started to shy away. He didn’t allow Ella to go through tough times without him there for a shoulder to cry on. He was always up-front and direct, never allowing his feelings to go unnoticed. He knew what he wanted and he took it.

Ella Varner is probably my favourite heroine out of the entire series. I thought she was sensible in her actions, especially when dealing with a sister who isn’t exactly in the right place at the moment. She was patient and kind with Luke. And most of all, she never allowed Jack Travis to use her. What worked between them was the fact that Ella wasn’t trying to impress Jack with her charm or beauty. She was trying to get her priorities straight and she was perhaps the only woman who hasn’t ever taken an interest in the gorgeous Jack Travis.

I loved how their relationship developed. There were sooo many instances where LK spent the time to make sure she got their chemistry right and I thought she did a wonderful job with this blooming relationship. And her little snippets of Miss Independent were quite good too. It’s no wonder she writes such great romances, she gives great relationship advice!

I thought I could get through this book without tearing up. I almost did, except the last 20 pages got me and I may have teared up towards the end. LK always does this to me! You make me look like a ninny!
Nevertheless, Smooth-Talking Stranger was, in my opinion, the best of the series. It had everything I wanted in a contemporary romance and more, making it a definite favourite for years to come.
Profile Image for Dina.
1,324 reviews1,235 followers
July 16, 2015
According to Wikipedia, "Chick lit is genre fiction within women's fiction which addresses issues of modern women often humorously and lightheartedly. (...) Although sometimes it includes romantic elements, women's fiction (including chick lit) is generally not considered a direct subcategory of the romance novel genre, because in chick lit the heroine's relationship with her family or friends may be just as important as her romantic relationships."

So, Smooth Talking Stranger is chick lit, even though my bookstore had shelved it under "Contemporary Romance". Why am I making a fuss about this distinction? Because I don't like chick lit... but I liked this book very much. Trust Ms. Kleypas to make me enjoy something I normally don't care about. :) This book made me smile, sigh, cry, laugh and curse in anger, because Ella (the heroine) pulled me into her story and didn't let me go. I didn't like her all the time - and I came close to hating her in one particular moment (just have a look at my status updates, if you're curious) - but I rooted for her and I wanted her to find her HEA with Jack and baby Luke.

Now Jack, oh Jack... He was gorgeous, wealthy beyond reason, caring, sensitive, protective, charming, amazing in bed... In one word, perfect. From beginning to end. That was a problem, believe it or not. He had no character development in the story, and I "blame" the 1st person POV narration for that. As I only saw him through Ella's eyes, I could only guess what he felt and what moved him. Even though he talked about some of that a little later, after he got together with Ella for good, it was too little, too late for me. That said, I wouldn't kick him out of my bed, though. ;)

All things considered, I really enjoyed this read - which was a surprise - but it didn't change my mind about my general dislike of chick lit and I won't be runing to read the previous books in this series. They're supposed to be even more focused on the heroine's story and have less romance than this book, and that isn't appealing to me.
Profile Image for S.
384 reviews91 followers
April 3, 2018
4.5 wonderful stars!

He was tall and big-framed, all hard muscle and easy masculinity, with dark eyes and heavy well-cut black hair. The way he carried himself – the confidence in his walk, the relaxed set of shoulders – proclaiming that he was accustomed to being in charge.

Say hello to Jack Travis! He is fantastic. He is hot but he is also warm and caring without losing his alphaness. As soon as they meet, sparks fly.
"Why? Do they make you nervous?
"Not at all." I gave him a mock-threatening glance. "I eat alpha males for breakfast."
There was a spark of mischief in his dark eyes. "I’ll be over here early then".


Ella is comfortable with keeping people at a distance until her sister dumps a baby on her. She lives in Austin with her boyfriend Dane who doesn't want anything to do with the baby and wants an open relationship. So Ella stays in Houston and try to hunt down the father. Which is how she meets Jack Travis. Jack takes an interest in Ella and the baby – and he keeps inserting himself in their lives. I really missed his POV in this book. I loved Ella, but I would have liked to get some glimpses into Jack’s mind.

Lisa Kleypas is a wonderful author. I adore her historical romances but I tried Sugar Daddy and I was not impressed. I decided to give her CR one more chance and I'm really glad I did. It is a classical contemporary romance in line with Susan Elizabeth Phillips. They tend to be a forgotten genre with all the Fifty-spin offs. I adored it.

If you want to read a well-written romance with a hunky adorable hero and a slightly broken heroine and a baby – then this is the book for you! I guess it's better to read Blue-Eyed Devil before as they play a big side part but you can easily read it as a stand-alone.
Profile Image for Syndi.
2,994 reviews690 followers
April 27, 2020
Listening to this story reminds me so much of that movie, Before Sunset. You know.... the Ethan Hawke's movie. Where the two of them just talking and walking through out the whole movie.

The title fits the story perfectly. Two people comes up together in a very peculiar circumtances. Two opppsite people who have so much in common in healing one another. Ella comes from a broken family whole Jack's family is perfect and happy.

Their romance is brewing slow and I can not help mesmerize by the depth of their bonding. Just like that movie. Smooth talking until the end.

Overall this is a wonderful read.

4 stars
Profile Image for Karen.
810 reviews1,026 followers
March 19, 2020

“Dear Miss Independent,

I've decided that of all the women I've ever known, you are the only one I will ever love more than hunting, fishing, football, and power tools.

Loved this one too! This is such a great series. Although I have to say that the Ella from the beginning of the book, hardly resembled the Ella from the end, thank goodness. I'm just accepting the fact that it was mostly due to the awesomeness that was Jack Travis and his influence on her. And other than being a player, Jack had NO FLAWS. Unless of course you happen to be a tree-hugging vegan, which I am not.

You can’t stand between a Texan and his power tools. We like them. Big ones that drain the national grid. We also like truck-stop breakfasts, large moving objects, Monday night football, and the missionary position. We don’t drink light beer, drive Smart Cars, or admit to knowing the names of more than about five or six colors. And we don’t wax our chests. Ever.”

Ella did annoy me quite a bit in the beginning. I am not a fan of open relationships. And I don't particularly buy the notion that you can avoid pain in life by avoiding commitment. It was kind of hard to accept her liberal beliefs in the beginning when she was giving relationship advice for a living. But honestly, it's a miracle she turned out even somewhat normal based on how she was raised. That mother... dear Lord give me strength. Even her poor sister was a hot mess. So in that regard, I am cutting Ella some slack.

Jack, however, made up for it all. This was the PERFECT MAN. That is, he was perfect, if you were the one he happened to be in love with. Seriously, creating characters like Jack Travis can be hazardous to the "real life" marriage. Just sayin'. My only regret in this book was not getting some of the story from the hero's point of view. Looking forward to Joe's story.
Profile Image for  ❀ Minesha ❀.
45 reviews121 followers
April 8, 2017

You know what might make me happy today?

If I could get into interstellar mode, travel back in time when Jack (who is sadly the hero of this book) was a young boy, turn into this wrathful creature and kill him. Yeah!


But why, you might ask.

Click on the spoiler to read why. My own rant is too depressing for me to look at. So I have hidden it.

Now that you have read my rant. (I am guessing you have.) And assuming that the time travel does not work and I am unable to kill Jack in my zombie or mutated monster mode, then I hope the deer will do the job.

Like this.


And this.


Or maybe the murder could be done in a little more seductive manner. It is a romance novel after all.


Good. All done now. Suffer Jack! Suffer! And take Ella along with you.


Gosh. I am feeling terribly vicious today. I think I will go butcher some cabbages now. In vegan style.


Profile Image for Jo.
957 reviews205 followers
November 12, 2016
"Don't ever leave me, Ella. I need you."

Ella Varner learned in early childhood to fend for herself and her baby sister. She’s independent, and in control of her own life, just the way she prefers it. And her boyfriend of four years gives her the freedom and space she needs. But when her sister leaves her new born baby with their flaky mother, Ella’s life is turned upside down. Suddenly she’s responsible for her nephew, and the only way she can think of helping her missing sister, is to find the father. Which leads her to playboy Jack Travis’ doorstep, the type of alpha male she always tries to avoid. But there’s no avoiding the sparks flying between them.

Jack Travis has always loved women and sex. And after getting his heart broken he prefers playing the field, never getting serious about anyone again. Until he’s confronted by an angry and very cute blonde, claiming the baby with her is his. And even though Jack knows for a fact that he never slept with Ella’s sister, he’s more than willing to prove it and to offer assistance. And hopefully get Ella to leave her useless boyfriend, and give him a chance.

But Ella is stubborn and the way Jack makes her feel scares her. She’s been disappointed too many times to want to take a risk on him. Can Jack convince Ella that he’s perfect for her?

This is a man, I thought, who could break my heart.

Ella was a fantastic heroine. She really had a horrible childhood at the hands of her mother, who was more focused on her looks and her men, than she was on her daughters. But Ella is nothing like her mother, she’s responsible and doesn’t believe she needs a man to make her life complete. I loved how she immediately decided to take care of little Luke, who was so cute, even though it changed her life completely, and how quickly she fell in love with him.

"There's not much I wouldn't do for you, Ella," he said quietly. "Haven't you figured that out yet?"

Jack was sex on legs with his charm and confidence. I loved how intensely attracted he was to Ella, how hard he pursued her and tried to convince her to give them a chance. And he was so great with little Luke, and being there for Ella when she needed help. I do wish we had gotten things from his POV too.

"I want you to trust me, Ella. I want every part of you. Someday you're going to let go with me."

The romance was great. I probably should have been upset that Ella slept with Jack while still dating Dane, but frankly Dane informed Ella just before that happened that they had an open relationship, which she didn’t even know, and he refused to help her take care of the baby, saying it was not his problem. They were more like friends with benefits, than a couple. I loved the intense chemistry between Ella and Jack. It was so very hot and sexy, but I also loved how much they talked to each other, how focussed they were on each other, so hungry to learn all there is about the other person. It was wonderful. Ella tried so hard to keep her walls up around Jack, not wanting to let go of her control, but Jack broke down her barriers with a patient seduction of sex and charm that was wonderful to witness.

I really hated Ella’s mother, who is a sorry excuse of a mother. The way she insulted Ella, and made moves on Jack was disgusting. And Ella’s sister was not really better. I found her selfish and immature. Jack’s family was as wonderful as always, and I loved seeing Hardy and Haven and how happy they are together. And I really can’t wait to read Joe’s book.

Lisa Kleypas is my favorite HR author, and her talent extends to her contemporary romances. They are wonderfully romantic and sexy, with great characters and dialogue. And this book was just wonderful. A must read for all romance fans.

Profile Image for Tammy.
126 reviews
April 27, 2009
Smooth Talking Stranger is a fabulous book. Absolutely wonderful. Unlike the other books in the series, this one reads like a solid romance with Jack and Ella's relationship being the main focus. (It is 100% pure contemporary romance without the chick-littish feel to it and, for the most part, lacks the darker issues re: domestic violence, abuse and rape that became the main focus of the prior books.)

This book has an honorary place on my Keeper Shelf for one reason and one reason only: Jack.

Billionaire Texas Playboy, Jack Travis, with his blackstrap molasses eyes, male confidence and possessive attitude is about as sexy as all get out. And let me tell you that this man is totally yummy! Here is a great mental picture of Jack ...

"He was tall and big-framed, all hard muscle and easy masculinity, with dark eyes and heavy well-cut black hair. The way he carried himself - the confidence in his walk, the relaxed set of his shoulders - proclaimed that he was accustomed to being in charge."


I loved, LOVED, LOVED the fact that Jack was the one pursuing Ella through-out the entire story. How often do you see that happen? His attitude may have been borderline chauvinistic at times, but honestly ... would you care if a man like Jack picked you up and called you "MINE"? Or wanted to argue about who was paying for dinner? It was a nice change and I really enjoyed watching Ella struggle with her opinions on love and marriage. It took an almost fatal tragedy for her to realize she was wrong and finally change her mind.

And finally ... I was thrilled to see that the author's sense of humor is back! I giggled more than once at the dialogue in this book. For example ...

"You should give me everything I want," Jack informed me. "You should spoil me rotten. And it's too late to play dumb, and you're cute as hell without make-up."

I smiled, my eyes still closed. "What about my glasses?"

"Definite turn-on."

"Everything's a turn-on for you," I said languidly.

"Not everything." Laughter thickened his voice.

"Yes. You're like one of those pharmaceutical commercials where they warn about four-hour erections. You need to go see your doctor."

"I don't find him all that attractive ..."

The scene where Jack was lying on the floor next to Ella's nephew playing with a baby gym, spouting off his ideas for an adult version had me hooting and hollering until my husband thought I would hurt myself!

The creative way Jack proposed to Ella made my heart go pitter patter and the HEA was the perfect ending to this book. Kudos to the author for throwing an epilogue our way too!

So even if you didn't care for the first two books in this series (there have been discussions!), you might want to give this one a shot. I think it is safe to say that it can be read as a stand-alone. And I dare you NOT to smile!

Profile Image for Alice.
298 reviews79 followers
August 31, 2015

I forgot how much I FLOVE this book!! It was my third re-read and every time I re-read it, I love it even more! Jack Travis is definitely book boyfriend material!

Ella Varner is a woman who didn't expect to have such an abrupt change in her life. She had a normal but good life in Austin, where she lived with her boyfriend Dane. What she absolutely didn't expect was to find herself in Houston , having to take care of her sister's newborn son, Luke.

“Babies were dangerous . . .they made you fall in love before you knew what was happening.”

While waiting for her sister to come back and take care herself of Luke, Ella is trying to find out who Luke's father is and that is how she meets Jack Travis.

Lucky Ella! Jack Travis is a sexy, gorgeous, possessive, caring and sweet alpha man! She really hit the jackpot!

"He was tall and big-framed, all hard muscle and easy masculinity, with dark eyes and heavy well-cut black hair. The way he carried himself - the confidence in his walk, the relaxed set of his shoulders - proclaimed that he was accustomed to being in charge."

I loved their relationship and most of all, it's great to read about mature characters.
I love to see a relationship start little by little, without rushing things.

And the scenes where Jack was with Luke? Swoon!

“The baby woke up before you did. I took him to the other room to let you get a little more sleep. We've been watching a game."
"Did he cry?"
"Only when he realized the Astros were having another first-round play-off flame out. But I told him there's no shame in crying over the Astros. It's how we Houston guys bond.”

This one is definitely my favorite in the series ( I started the series with this one, then went back to book one and two).

Smooth Talking Stranger is the third book in the Travises series, but it can be read as a standalone.
Profile Image for Ali.
197 reviews71 followers
February 10, 2017
Mi primera incursión con la Kleypas y la historia me ha gustado. No ha estado mal pero tampoco como para caerme de la silla. Seguiré probando.
Profile Image for Carvanz.
2,103 reviews749 followers
April 8, 2018
Ella’s sister has skipped out leaving behind her newborn son with their unstable mother. With no other choice, Ella takes the baby and sets out to fix things for everyone concerned. The first thing to do is find the father and she knows exactly who that man is.

Jack has quite a bit of a reputation but he proclaims his innocence regarding the paternity of the baby. When Ella discovers the truth, she’s determined to find the true father, help her sister in any way she can and contend with her mother all while trying to find a place to live and a way to take care of her nephew.

Strongly independent, she doesn’t want to accept more help from Jack than what she already has, but with some persuasion and the promise to pay him back she begins to adjust to having a newborn in her life.

I had a bit of a rough start with this one and I think most of it was due to the heroine already being in a relationship when she meets the hero. That relationship continues for a bit although they have a certain kind of agreement – one she initially wasn’t even aware of! The lack of the hero’s point of view made it difficult for me to connect with him but as the story progressed I slowly started to fall in love with Jack. It’s safe to say by the end of the book I was head over heels for him!

I absolutely loved Ella’s sense of humor and her quirky observations. She’s my kind of heroine (minus her reluctance to love or grow attached to anyone) with her one liners and wry commentary. The way Jack stepped in and continued to be there for her, refusing to take no for an answer when she obviously was trying to pull away, endeared him to me. He was a great possessive, jealous and protective hero.

Overall, I enjoyed this book despite my feeling kind of blah all day which affected my emotional connection to these characters. That was totally a “me” issue and not the story. This would be a five star had Ella’s previous relationship not lasted so far into the book and crossed over into her relationship with the hero. That alone could quite possibly drop it to a three but because I loved Jack so much, I’m going with four stars.

Heroine POV
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