“Smooth Talking Stranger” by Lisa Kleypas, #3 Travises ★★★★★

Excellent contemporary romance with really smart writing, humor, likeable characters, and a full and interesting story.

Ella Varner learns about her sister’s pregnancy when she receives a call from their mother that Tara has left her week-old baby boy with her and taken off. Their mother is unwilling to admit to being a grandmother, let alone take care of the infant, so Ella is expected to drop everything in her own life (including her longtime boyfriend who has made it clear he never wants children) to pick up the pieces. Their family history is full of abandonment, negligence, narcissism, and abuse, and their relationship is a toxic one. Ella sums it up by saying,

“I didn’t think I would have survived my childhood without my sister, or she without me. We were each other’s only link to the past…that was the strength of our bond, and also our weakness.”

Ella makes it her mission to locate the baby’s father and ensure that he take on some of the responsibility for the future security of the baby and his mother. At the top of the list is Jack Travis, a successful businessman from a wealthy family who is known as an extreme playboy. He insists he could not be the father but agrees to take a paternity test, and proves to be a truly decent guy by stepping in to help make Ella’s transition to becoming Baby Luke’s guardian an easier one.

This story was a real pleasure to read. The evolution of their relationship was a slow one, which made it believable. Jack recognized the roadblocks that Ella put up and hid behind to protect herself, and he was patient and determined to break them down after gaining her trust. Their banter was smart and funny, even when they were having an argument they could smile at each other. There were great moments thrown in that made me laugh.

“You are so full of yourself…and you would not be good for me, with your steaks and power tools and your attention-deficit libido, and…I’ll bet you’re a card-carrying member of the NRA. Admit it, you are.”
Lisa Kleypas is a master at writing her Regency-era novels, and I am so happy to see that she does the same when she switches to contemporary. This was a very well written and complete story.
Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas

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