Smooth Talking Stranger

Smooth Talking Stranger - Lisa Kleypas 4.5 starsWhy in the hell didn't I start with this book and skip those other two?? For those wondering: Yes, you can (and should) absolutely read this book as a stand-alone. These are all companion books, and, to me, the information I received in the other two books actually hurt my impression of the additional characters.Now where to start with this one?From the beginning, I was a little nervous about what Kleypas was going to do because we start off with the heroine in a long-term relationship with another guy (she sure does like to write about attached women, doesn't she?). But, fortunately, that really wasn't a major conflict within the story. I think why I enjoyed this book so much was because 90% of the conflict came from outside Jack and Ella's relationship. I like to feel secure in my H/h's love for each other, and I definitely felt that with this book.Of course, there were several characters that grated on my nerves. Kleypas does a fabulous job of giving us non-villains who we love to hate and Ella's mother falls smack dab in the middle of them. She was a piece of work. I wished several times that Ella had stood up to her more, but that was me coming out, not a character flaw. It was a little hard at the beginning, though, to see her suffer through the relationship with her mother and younger sister.I'll admit that I didn't really get the relationship Ella had with Tara. Most of the time, as a reader, I found Tara to be cruel, selfish, immature, and inconsiderate of Ella's feelings/life/situation. However, when Ella spoke about Tara, it was always with a fondness and a sort of sacred bond. Though I guess that's sisters for you, huh?So, from the beginning, Ella is stuck with her sister's kid and she goes off on a hunt to find the father. That whole thing was sort of a convoluted mess, and one that (much to my dismay) didn't really get resolved completely. It was one of only two main gripes about this book, but that storyline sort of fell flat for me.Let me tell you what didn't fall flat: Jack. Holy God in heaven, that man was...perfection. I mean...perfection. (disclaimer: when I say he's perfection, I've rewritten him in my mind to be chest fur less. And, yes, it was described as a "furry chest" at one point. *shudder*) He is so swoony and so funny and so witty and so manly that I CANNOT, okay? Can we talk for a minute about what it did to my ovaries when Ella came out and found Jack and Luke on the couch, Luke curled on Jack's chest as they watched the news? *kersplosion* I mean, really, is there anything sexier than a man who is confident and sure and hands on with a baby? Bed time? He's got it. Feeding? Yep, that too. Diaper changes? GO TAKE A BATH, WOMAN, I GOT THIS.