Joint Review: Brown-eyed Girl by Lisa Kleypas

Reviewers: Has and Lou
Publisher: St. Martins
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Where did you get the book: e-arc from publisher
Release date: 11th August

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.

women lying on a white couch holding flowers in front of her face.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.

*blurb taken from Goodreads*

Lou: When the publicist sent us this review copy, our screams of delight were probably heard very far and wide. Lisa Kleypas. What can I say about Lisa Kleypas? As far as I’m concerned, she’s one of the queens of romance. While I’ve liked her contemporaries, her historicals are the books that I crave above all else. But a fourth Travis book? Yeah. I was doing some craving and squeeing. But I have so many mixed feelings over BROWN-EYED GIRL. While I fell in love all over again with Lisa Kleypas writing and the magic she creates, there was something really off about BROWN-EYED GIRL’s structure. It felt really, really undercooked in quite a few areas of the book.

Has: When I first heard that Lisa Kleypas would finally be publishing the last Travis book, featuring the youngest brother, Joe, who finds his own heroine, I was ecstatic. I loved the previous installments and they’ve become a firm comfort reread for me. However, like Lou said above, I had a lot of issues with the book, especially with the structure and the characterizations. They felt uneven and underdeveloped, although that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the book.

I also found it hard to get into Avery’s character who was hurt in a previous relationship. She was left stranded at the altar and she had issues with her deceased father who abandoned her. I could understand Avery’s reasons on why she wouldn’t embark on a relationship with Joe, who was hot and desirable. But I did find he was sometimes too perfect and patient. I found myself disconnected with her character because I didn’t really see a connection between Joe and Avery, although that improved later in the book.

Lou: Avery being reluctant to get involved with Joe I didn’t have an issue with. I could understand why she didn’t want to get involved with Joe who was so out of her comfort-zone coming from a very rich and famous family. Her suspecting he was a playboy wasn’t as far-fetched because you do read about rich playboys in newspapers. Joe was very persistent and though he was very charming, he wasn’t taking a no from Avery. I love Lisa’s writing and her way with characters and dialogue. I’d forgotten how talented she is because despite Avery sometimes being very frustrating, Lisa made it work for me. In fact, I found myself more annoyed with Joe at times because of his persistence as Avery was clear to him from the start. When he pulled her into the pool that had me a little antsy. This book also felt a little old-skool; that it could have been published ten, or twenty years ago. I didn’t mind it but it didn’t feel as if it was the world we live in today.

Has: I get what you mean about the book having this old skool feel but I think the previous books had those aspects, although it didn’t feel dated. But I agree with you about Joe. I actually wished he was more developed in their scenes together, and I wanted more time spent on them as a couple because I felt at certain parts of the book, their relationship kind of breezed past. I also felt Joe was way too perfect, and while I agree with Lou about the scene with the pool, I did think it showed his frustrations. I just wanted more development, especially at the end when Joe gave Avery her space but she then does a 180 degree turn towards her feelings which was pretty sudden. We didn’t get to see that realisation of her changing views because it was just breezing along with Joe and Avery getting comfortable in a new relationship. It was very sudden and it just emphasized the disconnection I had with the romance and Avery’s character.

Lou: This is where the development of the relationship didn’t feel natural at times. I believed in their attraction but the building up of the tension and relationship seemed all over the place and out of order. For most of the book there is resistance on Avery’s part in dating Joe, but in action she did a lot of relationship things with him. She met his family. She was there for him when there was a family emergency. Joe was there for Avery when there was an incident during a house-party with a see-through floor. Apart from Avery’s resistance because of her past, there is very little conflict in the book. There was a small secondary romance between Avery’s sister and Simon, who both work at the wedding planner business. I loved their interactions and there was some lovely humorous scenes and I loved the sisters had each others back no matter what.

Has: I really enjoyed the secondary romance with Avery’s sister and Simon. I actually felt there was a better build-up and development with their relationship, especially how it turned out at the end. And even though I felt Avery and Joe’s romance was uneven, I did enjoy those scenes, especially the see-through door and the family emergency later on in the book. It highlighted the fantastic chemistry and warmth the Travis’ had with each other and regained that bit of magic. But I could not help feeling underwhelmed in places with this book. I think it didn’t help that I reread the series just before I started BROWN-EYED GIRL.

Lou: A lot of the book worked for me until the very end when Avery did a complete turn-around and demanded Joe to make a huge decision that would mean being away from his family. It was very strange and Avery’s demands almost felt manic in nature. It was weird reading this book because of all these strange issues. I hadn’t reread the series so I’ve forgotten a lot of what happened from the previous book. BROWN-EYED GIRL read like a second or even third draft, rather than a finished copy. It’s disappointing because Kleypas is a wonderful writer who can create magic on the page and while there was truly wonderful moments in this book, the other issues I had kinda made the book a frustrating read.

I’m giving this book a B for the wonderful moments, and a C for its issues. Yes, it’s a conflicting grade, but it represents my feelings on the book.

Has: I totally agree with you about the unfinished feel of this book, and I have similar mixed feelings too. Because while I had issues too with the unevenness of the book and characterizations, I did enjoy the story because it did have elements of fun humour and Kleypas’ magical charm. And the romance did improve at the end despite the choppy buildup between Avery and Joe.

Overall, even though this was an uneven book, BROWN-EYED GIRL was an enjoyable read although it has flaws. I give it a C+

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