Received via NetGalley
From the BLURB:
This is the fourth and final installment of the Travis series, following on from Sugar Daddy, Blue Eyed Devil and Smooth Talking Stranger.
Avery Crosslin is a talented young fashion designer with a bright future ahead of her. But when the company goes into liquidation, Avery finds herself without a job and a boyfriend who decides to leave her.
When her father falls ill, Avery is by his side day and night. But one evening she notices a young man, Joe, in distress and offers to help. Their instant attraction to one another is magnetic but even though she is unexpectedly charmed by the good-looking stranger, Avery tells him that she has to leave. He asks for her name and number, but she lies and tells him she has a boyfriend. At this point in Avery's life, the last thing she wants or needs is more complications.
The next day, as Avery returns to the hospital to thank the nurses for taking such good care of her father at the end of his life, one of them gives her an envelope from Joe. It is addressed to "Brown-Eyed Girl."
Avery knows she wants to see Joe again but she faces a dilemma. When she learns that Joe is the man responsible for her father's death she is troubled.
Is there any hope of a future for them both?
‘Brown-Eyed Girl’ is the fourth book in Lisa Kleypas’ ‘Travis’ contemporary romance series. It comes some six years after third book ‘Smooth Talking Stranger’ was released, after which Lisa Kleypas maintained she had no story lined up for third brother Joe Travis … which is why fans are so delightedly surprised and excited by the release of ‘Brown-Eyed Girl’.
I have a particular love for Lisa Kleypas’ contemporary romance series. The first Kleypas book I ever read was ‘Sugar Daddy’ and after that I was hooked, and mowed through her historical ‘Hathaways’, ‘Wallflowers’, and ‘Gamblers’, and her second contemporary series, ‘Friday Harbor’. I love her, unabashedly. She’s one of the first authors I’d recommend to anyone reading romance for the first time – because I truly believe that a good Lisa Kleyas book can hook anyone.
But I do love her ‘Travis’ series; in particular ‘Smooth Talking Stranger’ is one of my favourite contemporary romance books. But I was like every other fan, desperately curious about Joe Travis who’d had a near-death experience in ‘Stranger’ and remained for me a somewhat tragic hero for Kleypas not giving him a HEA … now that I’ve read ‘Brown-Eyed Girl’ I can say I’m a little bit torn on Joe’s long-overdue tale.
Joe’s love-interest is wedding planner Avery Crosslin. Jaded by a womanising, absent father and a horrendous love-gone-wrong story of her own, Avery still believes in happily-ever-after, just for other people. When she meets Joe at a Texas upper-crust wedding, they both seem to fall hard … but while Joe’s keen to get something started with the curvy redhead, gun’s blazing, Avery is a hold-out to her own heart;
I had been an entirely different person with Joe. But I wasn’t ready to be someone new – I’d grown too accustomed to being the woman Brian Palomer had jilted at the altar. If I let go of that identity, I wasn’t sure what would happen. I was afraid to imagine the possibilities. All I knew was that no man would ever hurt me the way Brian had, and I was the only one who could protect myself from that.
Their story is a delicious back-and-forth, thrust-and-parry as Joe patiently waits out Avery’s fears and burgeoning career demands. But for all that I did like Joe and Avery as a couple, they seemed to be missing that distinctive Kleypas *something* to make them as memorable as Gage and Liberty, Jack and Ella before them (I’m actually in the minority and don’t rate ‘Blue-Eyed Devil’, or the coupling of Hardy and Haven).
I think it’s partly because Joe and Avery didn’t seem to get enough page-time together. Maybe it’s just me, but I missed getting to settle into their romance a little more … and I possibly also feel that way because it felt like Avery should have had a confrontation with her ex, Brian, for how much time she spent using him as an excuse to avoid Joe.
It’s also that ‘Brown-Eyed Girl’ includes some of Lisa Kleypas’s best secondary character storylines that threaten to overshadow the main romance. One concerns Avery’s Hispanic half-sister and partner in her wedding planning business, Sofia. She has a nemesis in their colleague, Steven, whom the women assumed was gay for his impeccable style, taste and that he works in wedding planning … but after discovering that he’s heterosexual (and happily sat in a dressing room with Sofia to choose outfits once) the two have been at each other’s throats ever since – in a heady mix of sexual tension and romantic impasse.
The other secondary story concerns a Travis cousin, Ryan Chase, who finds himself in unhappy need of Avery and Sofia’s wedding planning expertise. I was really, really intrigued by Ryan, even more so by book’s end when his story finished up on a bit of a romantic challenge. Now, I know that Lisa Kleypas has said Joe’s story concludes the ‘Travis’ series … but I hope that means Ryan Chase’s will be the first book in a new contemporary series spin-off. Please? Please! I can’t go another six years like I did for Joe, hoping that Ryan gets his HEA!
I really did enjoy ‘Brown-Eyed Girl’, especially to catch up with the entire Travis clan again. It’s another one of the reasons I love Kleypas’ family romance sagas; that we get to check back in with the happily-ever-afters of past books, and all the characters we love and miss.
If I were just basing my score on Avery and Joe, ‘Brown-Eyed Girl’ would probably get a 3/5 … but because of the stellar secondary story of Sofia and Steven, not to mention the tantalizing possibilities of Ryan Chase, I’m giving it a –