This time out, I have Lisa Kleypas's latest, Smooth Talking Stranger (St. Martin's), the next installment in her contemporary series starring the Travis family. Ella Varner has a perfect-for-her life: a steady, live-in boyfriend who makes no demands she can't handle, a successful career as an advice columnist, and plenty of distance from her very dysfunctional family. Until the frantic call from her mother about her sister's new baby. So much for distance. Ella's mother has spent her life basing her worth on her ability to attract men, and not so much time being a good mother, so when Tara dumps her newborn, Candy certainly isn't going to take care of the little guy, which mean's Ella's going to have to. Of course, this means staying in Houston until things can be figured out. Like where has her sister gone, and just who is this baby's father. Her first lead takes her to Jack Travis. He's just her sister's type: rich and sexy. But Jack, while he agrees to have the paternity test she demands, says he's not baby Luke's father. Bad boy Jack, however, turns out not to be as bad-boy as one might expect, when he arranges for a place for Ella to stay when it turns out her sister will be gone a while. And Jack is good with not just Ella but the baby, too. Of course, Ella has a boyfriend, so she's not planning for anything to happen. Ha! Apparently no one can resist Jack, including the very contained, emotionally-controlled Ella. Pretty soon, Ella is falling not just for baby Luke, but for Jack, and her life doesn't look anything like she'd imagined it might. But she can't seem to let down that last guard around her emotions to cross the line into love. This one is also told in first person, as were its predecessors, which is definitely not my favorite way to read a romance, and the beginning dragged. But I liked this one far better than the previous Travis stories. Jack is a charming hero, and it's next to impossible not to fall in love with him. Ella is another story, but by the end, it's much easier to like her and to feel her pain and joy right along with her. I'm borrowing three and a half of Cupid's five arrows for this one.
Until next time, happy reading!