Author: Lisa Kleypas

March 24, 2017

Review | Dream Lake by Lisa Kleypas

Review | Dream Lake by Lisa KleypasDream Lake by Lisa Kleypas
Series: Friday Harbor, #3
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin, August 2012
Pages: 374
Format: Paperback
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They say that opposites attract. But what happens when one of them has been devastated by betrayal and the other is so damaged and jaded that his heart is made of stone? In New York Times bestselling author Lisa Kleypas's Dream Lake, readers well enter the world of Friday Harbor, an enchanting town in the Pacific Northwest where things are not quite as they seem and where true love might just have a ghost of a chance. . . .
Alex Nolan is about as bitter and cynical as they come. One of three Nolan brothers who call Friday Harbor home, he's nothing like Sam or Mark. They actually believe in love; they think the risk of pain is worth the chance of happiness. But Alex battles his demons with the help of a whiskey bottle, and he lives in his own private hell. And then, a ghost shows up. Only Alex can see him. Has Alex finally crossed over the threshold to insanity?
Zoë Hoffman is as gentle and romantic as they come. When she meets the startlingly gorgeous Alex Nolan, all her instincts tell her to run. Even Alex tells her to run. But something in him calls to Zoë, and she forces him to take a look at his life with a clear eye and to open his mind to the possibility that love isn't for the foolish.
The ghost has been existing in the half-light of this world for decades. He doesn't know who he is, or why he is stuck in the Nolans' Victorian house. All he knows is that he loved a girl once. And Alex and Zoë hold the key to unlocking a mystery that keeps him trapped here.
Zoë and Alex are oil and water, fire and ice, sunshine and shadow. But sometimes it takes only a glimmer of light to chase away the dark, and sometimes love can reach beyond time, space, and reason to take hold of hearts that yearn for it. . . .

Dream Lake’s Alex Nolan is having a bad day.

Or rather, more like a bad couple months.

Okay, a bad year. His wife has left him and is kicking him out the house to put it up for sale. His construction business is floundering because rumors of his drinking are spreading. He can’t get his mind off the beautiful chef at the B&B and, oh yeah: he’s being haunted.

On the surface, Dream Lake‘s romantic plotline is fairly predictable. Broken man finds loving woman to heal his wounds. I’m okay with that. In fact, I’ve even a fan of the cookie cutter plot because it allows so much room for creativity. And Kleypas has plenty of creativity, namely the ghost.

The ghost is a unique plot twist. He has no idea who is he, why he seems to be tied to the house (then Alex), or if he can move on to the next life. In short, he’s the perfect foil for grumpy, defensive Alex, who would probably throw a hammer at your head if you looked at him funny.

Yet the ghost isn’t enough to make Dream Lake memorable. His story alone? Fabulous. Intertwined with the fairly mundane and – dare I say it? – predictable romance between Alex and Zoe (aforementioned loving woman)? It’s not enough.

The thing about Zoe and Alex is that they weren’t exciting. There wasn’t a new tweak to the stereotypical characters, aside from Alex being haunted. Alex is mean to Zoe, Alex kisses Zoe, Zoe cooks for Alex, and here we are.

From Kleypas’ past books, I expected more. More zing, more banter, deeper characters. With that, Dream Lake could have been great. As is, it’s okay.

3 Stars

Posted March 24, 2017 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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October 2, 2016

Review | Tempt Me by Twilight by Lisa Kleypas

Review | Tempt Me by Twilight by Lisa KleypasTempt Me at Twilight by Lisa Kleypas
Series: The Hathaways, #3
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks, September 2009
Pages: 373
Format: Paperback
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He was everything she'd sworn to avoid.
Poppy Hathaway loves her unconventional family, though she longs for normalcy. Then fate leads to a meeting with Harry Rutledge, an enigmatic hotel owner and inventor with wealth, power, and a dangerous hidden life. When their flirtation compromises her own reputation, Poppy shocks everyone by accepting his proposal—only to find that her new husband offers his passion, but not his trust.
And she was everything he needed.
Harry was willing to do anything to win Poppy—except to open his heart. All his life, he has held the world at arm’s length…but the sharp, beguiling Poppy demands to be his wife in every way that matters. Still, as desire grows between them, an enemy lurks in the shadows. Now if Harry wants to keep Poppy by his side, he must forge a true union of body and soul, once and for all...

At first, I didn’t know how to feel about Tempt Me at Twilight‘s romantic hero, Harry Rutledge.

Scratch that.

For the first half of the novel, I didn’t know how to feel about Harry Rutledge.

He’s ruthless, especially when it comes to getting what he wants. A self-made man, Rutledge has created his success and is therefore fiercely defensive of it. He thrives on his business and vice versa. He has reached his wildest dreams: to make his mark among the rich and famous. So when he sees something he wants, he takes it.

Unfortunately, when it comes to Poppy Hathaway, it doesn’t work the way he planned.

I loved Rutledge at first. He was the hardened businessman, the one that never believed in love, especially not for himself. He was the reluctant underdog, the one fighting to win the chance at her hand. Then he made what I would consider some pretty bad decisions. I have to admit; I was close to putting this book down. But it was Poppy who saved both Rutledge and Tempt Me at Twilight.

Poppy is Rutledge’s foil in every sense of the word. Where he’s a tough-minded businessman, she’s a softer, family-focused woman. It’s this simple yin yang that adds life to both the narration and its hero. She makes him relatable, forgiving, even kind.

Like Poppy, I struggled with Rutledge, but also like her, I found the soft in him. It was the saving grace of Tempt Me at Twilight, the element that made me stay up half the night to finish it; that had me setting aside the book with a sigh when I finished. Their relationship creates this magic that brings the whole novel alive.

Despite the hiccups with Rutledge in the beginning, I fell madly in love with both him and Poppy. Tempt Me at Twilight brought all the charismatic, vibrant characters and the romantic storyline that made Kleypas a household name. And I loved it.

4 Stars

Posted October 2, 2016 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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August 18, 2016

Review | Marrying Winterborne by Lisa Kleypas

Review | Marrying Winterborne by Lisa KleypasMarrying Winterborne by Lisa Kleypas
Series: The Ravenels, #2
Publisher: Avon, May 2016
Pages: 416
Format: Paperback
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A ruthless tycoon
Savage ambition has brought common-born Rhys Winterborne vast wealth and success. In business and beyond, Rhys gets exactly what he wants. And from the moment he meets the shy, aristocratic Lady Helen Ravenel, he is determined to possess her. If he must take her virtue to ensure she marries him, so much the better…
A sheltered beauty
Helen has had little contact with the glittering, cynical world of London society. Yet Rhys’s determined seduction awakens an intense mutual passion. Helen’s gentle upbringing belies a stubborn conviction that only she can tame her unruly husband. As Rhys’s enemies conspire against them, Helen must trust him with her darkest secret. The risks are unthinkable… the reward, a lifetime of incomparable bliss. And it all begins with…
Marrying Mr. Winterborne

Please don’t hate me for what I’m about to say.

I didn’t love Rhys Winterborne.

know. Since I discovered Kleypas earlier this year (yes, I know, bit late to the party), I’ve fallen head over heels for her heroes, her heroines, her writing, hell, even her covers. But Marrying Winterborne? I couldn’t.

Since Rhys’ awful behavior at the end of Cold-Hearted Rake, I fully expected Helen to leave his sorry behind, well, behind, and find herself a good man. The way he behaves toward Kathleen at the end of the first series installment was so disgusting. But Marrying Winterborne picks up a few short weeks (week?) after, and Helen and Rhys fall back into a torrid affair.

To be fair, there were moments Rhys was heart-stoppingly romantic, and I’d hoped he’d left that nasty, controlling behavior behind. Then he ruined it by saying/doing something that made me want nothing to do with him. I couldn’t shake the feeling of controlling, hard man wrapped up in a layer of romance to make him appealing. The heady dose of possessiveness overwhelmed his character.

I had the same issues with Helen, but in a different way. I didn’t expect her to act as she did throughout the book, which tipped my entire perception of the series on its side. She didn’t develop as a character any further than she had in the first installment, a decision that I think really hurt her.

On the plus side, Kleypas’ writing was fantastic as ever, even as I struggled with her characters. Each scene was beautifully written, stunning, and vibrant. I loved the premise of the story and the ideas behind the characters, but they needed further development (and less aggression on Rhys’ part) to make Marrying Winterborne a winner. I’m not giving up on Kleypas…maybe Rhys just isn’t my style.

3 Stars

Posted August 18, 2016 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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July 14, 2016

Review | Brown-Eyed Girl by Lisa Kleypas

Review | Brown-Eyed Girl by Lisa KleypasBrown-Eyed Girl by Lisa Kleypas
Series: Travis Family, #4
Publisher: Piatkus, August 11th 2015
Pages: 291
Format: Hardcover
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Wedding planner Avery Crosslin may be a rising star in Houston society, but she doesn't believe in love--at least not for herself. When she meets wealthy bachelor Joe Travis and mistakes him for a wedding photographer, she has no intention of letting him sweep her off her feet. But Joe is a man who goes after what he wants, and Avery can't resist the temptation of a sexy southern charmer and a hot summer evening.
After a one night stand, however, Avery is determined to keep it from happening again. A man like Joe can only mean trouble for a woman like her, and she can't afford distractions. She's been hired to plan the wedding of the year--a make-or-break event.
But complications start piling up fast, putting the wedding in jeopardy, especially when shocking secrets of the bride come to light. And as Joe makes it clear that he's not going to give up easily, Avery is forced to confront the insecurities and beliefs that stem from a past she would do anything to forget.
The situation reaches a breaking point, and Avery faces the toughest choice of her life. Only by putting her career on the line and risking everything--including her well-guarded heart--will she find out what matters most.

Avery Crosslin would rather blend into the background, thank you very much. As co-owner of one of the primer wedding companies in Houston, she thrives in the background, ensuring negative best men are kept away from wayward grooms and creating the brides’ wildest dreams. But when she meets Joe Travis, a man who seems to see through her oversize, bland clothing and see her. And that leaves this brown-eyed girl a little bit nervous.

I really don’t know how Kleypas does it. Her ability to create such vivid characters consistently knocks me off my feet. I loved Avery right off the bat. Her self-consciousness is so endearing; it’s a characteristic that allows every girl, red hair/brown eyes or not, to identify with her. She’s a woman who shines out of the spotlight, who thrives on details. From that moment, we had an immediate kinship.

Joe was the perfect mix of domineering romantic hero and giant softy. Kleypas (wisely) offsets his alpha male tendencies with insight into mind through dialogue that makes it easier to connect with him and understand what’s going on.

The side plot of Avery’s sister and her quiet romance were fantastic…I wish there was a novel just for them. The push and pull of their relationship caught me in and I found myself wishing they had a happily-ever-after too.

The plot is what really won me over when it came to Brown-Eyed Girl. It was so realistic: a girl caught between a boy and a life choice. It’s a gamble, but also a learning opportunity to trust your heart – one of the hardest lessons in life. Avery’s character journey isn’t dramatic. It’s a life journey that could happen to any woman, decisions that could face any one of us. It was how their relationship evolved around it that made Brown-Eyed Girl an absolute winner.

4 Stars

Posted July 14, 2016 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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June 17, 2016

Review | Mine Til Midnight by Lisa Kleypas

Review | Mine Til Midnight by Lisa KleypasMine Till Midnight by Lisa Kleypas
Series: The Hathaways, #1
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks, October 2007
Pages: 376
Format: Hardcover
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When an unexpected inheritance elevates her family to the ranks of the aristocracy, Amelia Hathaway discovers that tending to her younger sisters and wayward brother was easy compared to navigating the intricacies of the ton. Even more challenging: the attraction she feels for the tall, dark, and dangerously handsome Cam Rohan.
Wealthy beyond most men’s dreams, Cam has tired of society’s petty restrictions and longs to return to his “uncivilized” Gypsy roots. When the delectable Amelia appeals to him for help, he intends to offer only friendship—but intentions are no match for the desire that blindsides them both. But can a man who spurns tradition be tempted into that most time-honored arrangement: marriage? Life in London society is about to get a whole lot hotter...

Amelia Hathaway has her hands full. Her heartbroken brother is caught in the past. One sister is recovering too slowly from her illness while the others can’t help but get into mischief. When their brother unexpectedly inherits the family title, it’s up to Amelia to shepherd her family through the maze of societal manners under the critical eyes of the ton. Amelia thinks she has it all held together…well, until she meets Cam Rohan.

The thing about Cam is he is similar to Amelia in so many ways: constrained by society, trying to make a living according to the rules of “proper” society, and working to help those he cares about. The difference? Cam’s Romany nature.

Quite simply, I loved Mine Til Midnight. I opened the book on a Sunday morning, planning to read just a few chapters before starting my chores. The next time I looked up, I was closing the back cover. Kleypas’ writing is believable and emotional, her characters funny and enthralling…essentially, up to the standard I’ve come to expect from her. The kicker for me? The Romany element.

There was something so mysterious, so intriguing about Cam’s Romany nature. A successful businessman, he rejected material things and was borderline uncomfortable accepting his paycheck. He wore the clothes suiting a man of his position in society, but a small ring on his finger to remind himself of who is he and where he comes from. His character was steeped in a tradition I know so little about, and I loved every moment of it.

I understood Amelia’s need to take care of everyone else in her life, letting her own needs go by the wayside. It was never martyr-like. Instead, she was funny, warm, and maybe a little too focused on helping everyone else. There was a vibrancy about her that shone through Mine Til Midnight.

Kleypas wove the side plots, featuring minor characters, beautifully into Amelia and Cam’s story. Essentially, you couldn’t have one without the other. The dependency made me curious to see how Amelia’s sister’s story would turn out, how Cam would finally win her over.

Mine Til Midnight is fabulous. The romance, the historical fiction, and the portrayal of the Romany culture was fascinating. I felt enveloped into Kleypas’ world. It’s one I can’t wait to return to.

4 Stars

Posted June 17, 2016 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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May 26, 2016

Review | Cold-Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas

Review | Cold-Hearted Rake by Lisa KleypasCold-Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas
Series: The Ravenels, #1
Publisher: Avon, October 2015
Pages: 402
Format: Paperback
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A twist of fate . . .
Devon Ravenel, London's most wickedly charming rake, has just inherited an earldom. But his powerful new rank in society comes with unwanted responsibilities . . . and more than a few surprises. His estate is saddled with debt, and the late earl's three innocent sisters are still occupying the house . . . along with Kathleen, Lady Trenear, a beautiful young widow whose sharp wit and determination are a match for Devon's own.
A clash of wills . . .
Kathleen knows better than to trust a ruthless scoundrel like Devon. But the fiery attraction between them is impossible to deny—and from the first moment Devon holds her in his arms, he vows to do whatever it takes to possess her. As Kathleen finds herself yielding to his skillfully erotic seduction, only one question remains:
Can she keep from surrendering her heart to the most dangerous man she's ever known?

The Ravenels aren’t your typical family.

Characterized by a brutal temper and a rakish reputation, Devon Ravenel wants nothing to do with the earldom he inherits after his cousin’s untimely death, and especially not with the three sisters and young widow Theo left behind. He expects to sell it off, lock and barrel, and move on with his life, but the family dynamics pull him in, not to mention Theo’s widow, Kathleen, who’s ready to defend the ancestral seat.

Cold-Hearted Rake is my first Kleypas historical romance, but after this and the contemporary Blue-Eyed Devil, it will certainly not be the last. From the moment she introduced the eccentric family dynamics of the Ravenels, I was hooked: Devon, the older brother with the rakish reputation, and his brother Weston, the rich drunk, were quite a pair on their own. Yet when the estate is thrust into Devon’s hands, they meet the quirky twins, Cassandra and Pandora, serene Helen, and defensive Kathleen.

I use the word “defensive” for Kathleen carefully – she’s a careful woman, one who’s taught herself to hide her emotions, guard her heart, and protect those she loves. It takes some work to earn her trust, but once you do, you’re in for life.

Devon, in turn, is just as defensive, but hides it behind a rakish reputation. I liked how Kleypas painted the reputation into the background (sort of the “we’ve heard about you” style) but focused on his thoughts and motives when it came to unexpectedly inheriting this…mess.

Their romance may have been an initial hot flash, but morphed into a slow burn that kept its hooks in me. The slow shattering of two defensive people’s protections is a fascinating one to read. I loved the touch of alpha male in Devon, just enough to make hearts flutter, but not enough to overpower him. Kathleen’s strong nature, in turn, painted a character that wasn’t a pushover, so it became all the more thrilling when she fell.

I loved that Kleypas didn’t forget the minor characters and side plots. The heartbreaking side plot near the end was a hook to get me to read the next book (and boy did it work), and I was so happy to see the evolution of Weston.

Cold-Hearted Rake had all the elements I love in historical romance: kooky side characters, strong romantic heroes, and a little bit of heartbreak.

4 Stars

Posted May 26, 2016 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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April 21, 2016

Review | Blue Eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas

Review | Blue Eyed Devil by Lisa KleypasBlue-Eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas
Series: Travises, #2
Publisher: St. Martin's Press, March 2008
Pages: 328
Format: Hardcover
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MEET THE BLUE-EYED DEVIL - His name is Hardy Cates. He's a self-made millionaire who comes from the wrong side of the tracks. He's made enemies in the rough-and-tumble ride to the top of Houston's oil industry. He's got hot blood in his veins. And vengeance on his mind.

MEET THE HEIRESS - She's Haven Travis. Despite her family's money, she refuses to set out on the path they've chosen for her. But when Haven marries a man her family disapproves of, her life is set on a new and dangerous course. Two years later, Haven comes home, determined to guard her heart. And Hardy Cates, a family enemy, is the last person she needs darkening her door or setting her soul on fire.

WATCH THE SPARKS FLY....Filled with Lisa Kleypas's trademark sensuality, filled with characters you love to hate and men you love to love, Blue-Eyed Devil will hold you captive in its storytelling power as the destiny of two people unfolds with every magical word.

Haven Travis thinks she knows what’s best…and usually that’s the exact opposite of what her rich Texas baron father thinks. So when her college boyfriend, Nick, approaches her father and asks for her hand, her father says no. When Haven marries him anyway (and is cut out of the will), she quickly finds out the sweet man she knew in college isn’t the same guy as the monster she married.

When Haven finally divorces Nick and returns home, the last thing she should be thinking about is another man, let alone millionaire and family rival Hardy Cates. But there’s something about the way his blue eyes fasten on her that she can’t stop thinking about…

I don’t typically like when the hero/heroine of a romance starts off the book in a relationship with someone else. It makes me antsy and feels like the relationship’s getting off on the wrong foot. But when Haven mistakes Hardy for Nick in the dark at her brother’s wedding…that should have been a sign to her right there.

Kleypas’s depiction of Haven’s abusive marriage was heartbreaking. Since Blue Eyed Devil was told through her narration, watching how her mind processed Nick’s action was enlightening, but…well, there truly is no other word than heartbreaking. I stayed up half the night with Haven, hoping she’d make it through and crossing my fingers that Hardy would come storming through the door to save her.

The entire story felt so realistic: from Haven’s struggling to overcoming the emotional destruction from her marriage to the relationship she develops with Hardy, every element in Blue Eyed Devil had just the right touch of realism. I loved that the romance was a slow development, considering Haven’s past, instead of a sigh, swoon, fall into bed.

It all comes down to Kleypas’s writing. Her narration enveloped me, making the twenty minutes I intended to read before bed stretch into an hour and a half. I felt invested in her characters, their world, and their lives, so much so that I felt sad to close the back cover on the book when I finished.

After Blue Eyed Devil, Kleypas may be a new go-to for contemporary romance! Any recommendations?

5 Stars

Posted April 21, 2016 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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