Sunday, October 10, 2010

book review: "smooth talking stranger," by lisa kleypas

it was her historical romances that drew me into lisa kleypas. she's an amazing author, and her hathaway series remains one of my favorite (i still get shivers thinking of the wonder that is "married by morning." i have yet to finish the series because i can't bear to say good bye to the beloved hathaway family.)

i had seen this book on quite a few favorite lists and had it in my amazon wish list when i finished a few others. historicals will always be my first love, but i'm oh-so-slowly treading water into contemporary romances.

maybe it's that i love history, maybe it's that i like imagining a different time and place, but i've never been drawn to contemporary. then this book happened and doomed me because not only is jill shalvis amazing (seriously, i can totally picture sharing a bottle of wine with her and having a blast), but she gets people. she gets how they talk, how they respond to situations, how messed up they can be. and lisa gets that too.

"smooth talking stranger" centers around ella, a 20-something texan finally getting her life together after what can only be described as a truly fucked-up childhood and years of therapy. then her sister, tara, who has obviously not invested time into therapy, dumps her baby on their mother - then tara checks herself into a heath clinic. ella gets pulled in and goes after the baby's father, jack travis, only one of the most powerful and richest men in houston.

the question in romance novels is NEVER who falls in love with who. it's always how - and maybe why not. the best novels often have incredibly (to borrow a word from SB's Candy) schlocky premises and details - hello, illegitimate baby meets hippie girl meets big town manwhore! - but it's all in the execution. ella is an incredibly believable, smart, caring character who wears glasses and worries about things like how much water a luxury shower is wasting. the schlock is taken for granted in this genre. some write crappy schlock. some write good schlock. and then there's lisa.

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