Brown-Eyed Girl
Grade : B-

It has been a long wait for Lisa Kleypas fans who have been anxious to read about Joe Travis and his story. As with any Kleypas book, Brown-Eyed Girl is well written, but it falls a little short in this reader’s opinion when compared to the other books in the Travis family series. I had to sit back and digest this book for a while before writing this review. I liked the book, but did not love it and am not sure how much the pre-release build-up contributed to this fact. If this were my very first Lisa Kleypas book, I might have given a higher grade. Still, Lisa Kleypas fans will still want to read more about the Travis family and those who have not had the pleasure of reading her previous books in this series will find it works well as a standalone.

Our heroine, Avery Crosslin, has migrated from designing wedding dresses in the Big Apple to opening her own wedding/party planning business in Texas. When she discovered she had a half-sister named Sofia at their father’s deathbed, Avery chose to get to know this sister and left her life in New York for the city of Houston. Avery and Sofia have moved in with each other and teamed up to run their business. Avery is the business and detail person with Sofia providing the creative touch.

When the book opens, Avery and her team are preparing for a wedding that could seal their fate in the Houston society scene and she is understandingly very concerned that everything go exactly as planned. A chance encounter with a scorpion brings Joe Travis to her rescue and Avery is suddenly thrown off her game. Avery is immediately attracted to the tall, dark and handsome Joe, but quickly rebuffs his advances. How could someone so handsome and rich be interested in her?

Joe Travis has recovered from his brush with death in a previous book and now makes his living as a commercial and freelance photographer, much to the chagrin of his now deceased father and patriarch of the Travis clan. While attending the wedding of a friend, he runs into the luscious wedding planner Avery Crosslin, and is immediately attracted to her. He pursues her quite avidly and is perplexed that she keeps brushing him off. But Joe is persistent and they share a moment after the wedding has concluded. When he tries to contact Avery again, she tries to ignore his calls, and finally tells him they should not see each other again. Then Avery is invited to a party at the home of wealthy Houston socialite Hollis Warner. Hollis’ daughter Bethany is reported to be on the verge of an engagement with Ryan Chase, Joe’s cousin, and Hollis wants Avery to plan the wedding. Once again Joe comes to Avery’s rescue after a see-through floor gives her vertigo and this time he isn’t giving up.

I really liked Joe Travis. He is a little more beta than most of the Travis men, but every once in a while, his secret alpha shows through. Joe is a man who is grounded in who he is and knows what he wants. He knows almost at once that he wants Avery Crosslin. It just takes the reader a good while to figure out why he wants her. She is prickly and very insecure about her looks (she is a full-figured girl) and while I like that Kleypas goes outside of the norm from the tiny waistline a man can circle with his hands, this issue almost felt forced. Avery has also been hurt badly in love and has decided to leave the romantic field so she won’t get fooled again. I have probably read too many books recently with the “I have been hurt before so I will never love again” trope and this may be why Avery’s reluctance to risk her heart again grated on me.

Then again, she really gives Joe almost zero encouragement and there is not enough personality insight there at the beginning for this reader to understand why Joe is so attracted to her absent the physical. Kleypas does do a good job of setting the background for why Avery is so insecure and as the book progresses, I did come to like Avery much more. It just seemed to me that there was not enough of a reason for the initial attraction to explain Joe’s pursuit. Avery is not terribly witty or charismatic, but almost blunt in her conversation style.

There was some suspense in this story, but for the most part it is character driven. The secondary romance between Sofia and Steven almost steals the show, and I question just which couple should have had top billing. The rest of the Travis clan make appearances throughout the book and it was nice to read about how their lives were progressing. While Travis cousin Ryan Chase has little screen time in this book, there was enough intrigue about him that I really hope that Lisa Kleypas has a story for him in the works.

I think it is hard not to be picky when reading an author that has consistently produced works which have me immediately placing them in my “to be read again” pile. I guess the final question I asked myself before grading this book is “Will I read it again?” My answer? Probably not. That does not mean I am not glad I read it to begin with. I am. It is a good little story, but there were just too many little things that kept this from being a keeper for me.

Buy it at Amazon/iBooks/Barnes and Noble/Kobo

Reviewed by Mary Skelton
Grade : B-

Sensuality: Hot

Review Date : August 10, 2015

Publication Date: 2015/08

Review Tags: Travis Family series

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Mary Skelton

I am from Alabama where I live with my husband of over 30 years in our now empty nest. Our three adult children have flown the coop and my husband and I are getting ready to build that retirement house in the next few years when I hope to have even more time for reading. I am a lifelong reader and while I read primarily romance, I enjoy most genres. If an author can tell a good story, I will read it.
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