editor's choice



I LIKE LISA KLEYPAS. She’s become a favourite author in the last few years since I was first introduced to her historicals by The Literary Cat, who, to get my attention, purposefully knocked a copy of Seduce Me At Sunrise (Hathaways #2) on to my keyboard from the bookshelf above my desk. It’s thus with great pleasure that I’m reviewing Brown-Eyed Girl, her latest novel.

18126966The fourth book in the Travis family series, Brown-Eyed Girl has been long-awaited by Kleypas fans – it’s almost five years since the publication of Smooth Talking Stranger (Travis #3). The series tells of uber-wealthy ‘Texan royalty’ Gage, Haven, Jack and Joe Travis, the children of larger-than-life patriarch Churchill, who’s a sort of shorter, steely-haired, 21st-century version of Bick Benedict in Giant (film, 1956). Each of the books is narrated from the viewpoint of the female protagonist/love interest and while, in many ways, while they are straightforward contemporary romances, they also tackle quite weighty issues head on, including racism, poverty, domestic abuse and marital rape.

In Brown-Eyed Girl, wedding planner Avery Crosslin is the heroine and narrator – and like most of Kleypas’s protagonists, she’s strong, yet insecure, feisty, funny and also a bit of a maverick. Enter, photographer Joe Travis, the youngest of the four siblings, who rescues her from a scorpion, which she’s trying to stun with a can of hair spray, and with whom she goes on to have a one-stand stand (Joe, not the scorpion). Or does she? What follows is a charming love story – the winning of Avery’s heart by Joe.

Love does will out despite various misunderstandings, often caused by Avery’s own many insecurities and prejudices about herself, her body and her [in]ability to love. This is all set against the rich context of elite Texan society, which the Travis’s, and Avery, by way of her profession, inhabit and also the close-knit relationships of the Travis family members themselves. Sadly, Churchill has moved on to a better place, so to speak, by this point in the series – and that is sad, as he is a much-missed manipulative, yet charismatic and funny presence.

Like the other books in the Travis series, Brown-Eyed Girl is at times poignant and yet funny, with some standout laugh-out-loud moments, but it’s essentially about a woman who, despite her profession, doesn’t believe in love. Gradually, through Joe’s eyes, Avery begins to see herself in her true light, as a sexy, independent woman, fully capable of being courageous enough to take the final steps towards love.


A bright wash of light had imparted a great pearly light to my skin and turned my hair ember red. The eyes were heavy-lidded, the lips full and slightly parted. The woman in the photo was sexy, inviting, radiant.


As I stared at the image in wonder, Joe wrapped his arms around me from behind, and whispered in my ear, ‘Everytime I look at you, this is what I see.’


Joe, while very masculine, is much more easy going and in touch with his feminine side than his brothers or brother-in-law. Perhaps that is why Brown-Eyed Girl seemingly has much less edge than the previous Travis novels. That said, Brown-Eyed Girl is a very fitting end to the series – if end it is, indeed, as one hopes Ryan, the Travis’s cousin, may get his moment in the sun at some point.

Inevitably, in any series one has a favourite book or books: mine is Sugar Daddy, the first book, featuring Liberty Jones, Gage Travis and Hardy Cates (the hero of Blue-Eyed Devil, Travis #2), and this is purely because it reminds me so much of Giant (the film, rather than the Edna Ferber 1952 book). Sugar Daddy, like Giant, is set against the backdrop of the Texas oil industry, raises all manner of questions about race and wealth, and Gage and Hardy’s relationship is reminiscent of Bick (Rock Hudson) and Jett’s (James Dean) in the movie.

All in all, Kleypas’s charm lies in the fact that she is an equal opportunities writer, crossing subgenres to write as comfortably and proficiently in contemporary romance as she does in historical. What’s interesting about her is that she writes in a very different way in each genre. In this, she brings to mind heavy-weight novelists (and personal favourites) like Mary Stewart, Georgette Heyer and Nora Roberts (JD Robb). By this, I mean they write in a quite removed, almost matter-of-fact manner, and yet in a way that manages to engage the audience’s interest. We’re invested in all these writers’ books from start to finish, in the plots and outcomes, and we’re rooting for the characters, even when they don’t behave particularly well. It takes a very good writer, indeed, to do this successfully. And Kleypas is certainly that.

So, read Brown-Eyed Girl if you love the Travis series. And read it, even if you’ve never read a Kleypas book before. It’s a great introduction. And, I promise you won’t be disappointed.


Brown-Eyed Girl by Lisa Kleypas is published by Piatkus (11 August 2015) and is available from Amazon and iTunes. It is the fourth book in the ‘Travis family’ series.


Sugar Daddy, Blue-Eyed Devil and Smooth Talking Stranger are the first three books in the series.



The excellent Giant is a 1956 film, starring Rock Hudson, James Dean and an absolutely stunning Elizabeth Taylor and directed by George Stevens (oh he of iconic Shane (1953) and A Place in the Sun (1951) fame). Watch it, please, if you haven’t seen it before. It’s an absolute gem. And if you’re a filmmaker, please, please don’t remake it! See ‘The Splendour of George Stevens’ Giant (1956)‘.


Image and text credits: Quotation text, p. 234, Brown-Eyed Girl. Copyright © 2015 by Lisa Kleypas.


Also of interest:A Georgian Fairy Tale – Joanna Taylor’s Masquerade’; An Alaskan Epic – Rosamund Lupton’s The Quality of Silence’; ‘Homeward bound” – Nora Roberts’ The Liar’;The beauty of Sara Taylor’s The Shore‘; ‘Kate Perry’s Give a Little – Beatrice in love‘; ‘Mary Balogh’s The Escape – finding a haven in a heartless world’


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Notice: Please note the images and quoted text in this article are used for promotional purposes only (see above).


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