Smooth Talking Stranger - Lisa Kleypas - 2009

So this is the third, and I suppose final novel (there's a third Travis brother, but no book is planned) in what Kleypas has deemed her "Texas Trilogy." The first is "Sugar Daddy" a novel I love, the second is "Blue-Eyed Devil" which I don't love, but enjoyed enough, and while nothing touches "Sugar Daddy", "Smooth Talking Stranger" came pretty damn close. As I've previously stated, I can't really enjoy SEP or Judith McNaught novels too much these days, the uber-rich have long since lost their appeal, however, Lisa Kleypas pairs the filthy rich Travis family with the down-to-earth to downright poor love interests that it balances out for me. The hero this time around is middle brother and real estate developer, Jack Travis. Those who have read the prior novels know him as a playboy with a famous case of "sleep inertia" which translates to "hungover." Seems as the though Jack has grown up a bit with his story, and falls fast and hard for single mom (of sorts) Ella Varner.
Ella is a vegan (by boyfriend) feminist still dealing with her messed up childhood. Her father abandoned the family, and her mom makes Joan Crawford look like mother of the year. Candy Varner has done a number on both her daughters, so when younger sister, Tara leaves her week-old infant son, Luke in her mother's care, Ella is once again recruited to clean up the mess. Where does Jack Travis fit in all this? Well, he's been mentioned as a possible father, and Ella confronts him for paternity test. Not exactly grounds for great romance, but Kleypas' makes it work. The chemistry snaps like firecrackers, and conversation is a form of foreplay for these two. Jack is not anything like a man Ella thinks she wants.
She repeatedly says she doesn't believe in marriage, and strives to be Miss Indepentdent in life and in print. Her job is an advice columnist in a magazine called "Vibe" (one of the little nagging problems I had with this book - does she mean the magazine that already exists or a made up women's mag??) and she tries to have all the answers, for everone including herself. She has a live-in boyfriend who is safe, meaning he doesn't push beyond her self-constructed walls. She leans on him as an excuse too many times, and it starts to get annoying, but you can see it's a defense mechanism and get past it. Jack bursts into her life, and she is not very happy about it, at first anyway. Jack is domineering and possessive, not at all like the boyfriend, Dane. He's never too much though, never seems like the alpha male heroes I can't stand. He's a good guy, he's the steady one who knows his heart, you gotta love that. This book is pretty darn steamy; a few too many love scenes if you ask me, but the sex is part of intimacy and this book is about Ella's journey beyond her fears. A journey I heartily enjoyed, and finished in one day, practically in one sitting. I hear Kleypas has more contemporaries planned, but these will be straight up romance, no more first-person POV, and feature more working class characters. I can't wait.

June 5th @ Satori Gallery in Moxham

Busting my ass to get ready for this...come check it out if you're in J-Town or on the internet at:

The Goodbye Summer - Patricia Gaffney - 2004

Sad Sappy Sucker

Wow, don't know what was wrong with me on Friday. Read this sappy (but good) book that focuses on the elderly, female friendships, a sometimes frustrating heroine, but ultimately a satisfying love story, too. Got kinda into it, real rollercoaster of emotions. Then later that night, I watched what I thought was going to be a romantic comedy along the lines of "When Harry Met Sally" and what do you know, both the leads are dying of cancer!!! Mad that it made me cry a little, 'cause the movie wasn't very good. Blame my mood. Weird emotional day, for sure.

Made up Novelty T-Shirts in Contemporary Romance

So, lately I've been noticing some authors having fun creating funny t-shirts for their characters. Kristin Higgins does it constantly, however her "Grey's Anatomy" inspired slogans go over my head (not a fan) but I can tell they aren't that funny anyway. Rachel Gibson however, made me laugh out loud in "Tangled up in You" when a big tough bartender sports two hilarious shirts:


Both great in my opinion. Then there is my current favorite from Patricia Gaffney's "The Goodbye Summer" which spends much of it's time in a nursing home, one of the characters wears an
Can't wait til I'm menopausal so I can wear that one!!

Been thinking about these lately...

got some plans. Who wants to go to the fair???

"Wild at Heart" - Patricia Gaffney - 1997

No, not this one (which rules):

This one, which is pretty okay:

Not done yet, so I'll just provide a few teasers...

Yeah, so my problem with any "journey" story - is what happens after the learning is done. They tend to lose steam for me, and this one adds some drama at the end to make up for it. All in all though, likeable characters, a young widow just out of mourning and ya know, a man who has survived in the Canadian wilds since childhood. Gaffney's good, though. Just started a one of her contemporary forays into "Women's Fiction" - major glomming happening these days! It's great to find a good author with an extensive backlist. I haven't even found some of the favorites yet!

"A Wallflower Christmas" - Lisa Kleypas - 2008

Thank goodness I got this book from the library. I can't imagine that anyone, even the biggest Wallflowers fan thought this tiny little frilly catch up was worth $16.95!!!! Seriously, why they chose this skimpy little novella to come out in hard back when none of the previous books did, I'll never understand. I mean, the cover is classy and fitting for the season, but it does only show three girls instead of 4, now 5, I guess. Whatever, it was cute, more suited for a Christmas anthology than it's own novel, the actual love story between a Bowman brother, Rafe and ladies companion Hannah something or other is fine - if mostly surface and quick to the action, I mean really quick, but I was more interested in the characters I was already familiar with. And for the most part that felt like a lengthy epilogue. One thing I did enjoy was Lillian's insecurities in her marriage - it added a touch of reality, and shows that you can have a HEA, but you still have to work at it.

Christmas is pretty low on my list of favorite holidays, however, I never mind reading Christmas stories at any time of the year, go figure... This story is worth reading if you loved this series, and I imagine that anyone who loved these books read "A Wallflower Christmas" 6 months ago and had similar reactions.

"Thief of Hearts" - Patricia Gaffney - 1990

So far, my Patricia Gaffney reading has been pretty limited. Seems as though I'm due for a glom, though. I found a copy of "Thief of Hearts" at a church rummage sale where the books were 10 for $1. And despite the horrible early nineties clinch cover I went for it, and got more than I bargained for. Maybe it's my mood, but this book tugged some major heartstings, and features one of my favorite storylines - the wrong brother plot. This book contains more twists and turns than the road to Blue Knob, but the emotional depth of the leads sucks you in. There are few things I love more than a H/H united against the world, and this book has it in spades, once they stop hating each other that is. There are some agressive alpha male type incidents which seemingly come out of nowhere, but I was able to look past them, because when he was sweet he was awesome, plus, it's kinda par for the course for the time it was written.

Oh, and a note to my friends when I'm reading a romance in public, especially a "trashy" one: it is never funny to read the back cover summary in a fake mocking voice. Never funny. Just sayin'.

3 Generations

My Mom held the light.

Tangled Up In You - Rachel Gibson - 2007

More sex than love, more low-carb diet tips than substance.

I need...

a digital camera. Really badly, cause I've been working, actually painting nearly everyday, and the only people that know that are the ones who come to my house. Trust me. June 5th. I'll be ready.

Why I thought I didn't like Lisa Kleypas OR Thank God for "Dreaming of You"

MIDNIGHT ANGEL - from 1995.
Not finished with it yet, but WOW. How things change in ten + years.
This books features:

a Russian princess falsely accused of murdering her fiance,
who fakes her death and escapes to England,
finds cover as a governess,
to an older and very arrogant Marquis,
with a hook for a hand,
oh, and the murdered fiance's bloodthirsty brother is seeking revenge.

Yeah, that's a lot of plot devices there.
Also, the hero lost his hand in a fire, so unless that mother fucker kills the bad guy with it, I call bull shit!