Kleypas, Lisa. Brown-Eyed Girl: a novel. 2015. New York, NY. St. Martin’s Press.
Avery Crosslin is a single, 27-year-old woman who owns her wedding planning business with her sister, Sofia in Houston, TX. After successfully coordinating a high-profile wedding she is approached by a potentially new high-profile client named Hollis, who is looking to throw a lavish wedding for her pregnant daughter. While thrilled by the prospect, she is also approached by her friend, Jasmine to audition for a hot new reality TV series, “Rock the Wedding with Trevor Stearns,” which would relocate her to the Big Apple. In addition, she also meets Joe Travis: a single, 29-year-old Houston native and a member of one of the most prestigious families in the nation, who falls in love with her. Having a tough family past and painful love life, Avery believes that love is the last thing she needs. However, with the three opportunities, Avery will make a choice and will surprise herself with the results.
The book is narrated by the protagonist, Avery Crosslin, who is telling her story about finding herself, healing and love. She is an accomplished woman, having her own business alongside her sister, but unbeknownst to her is that she is a little bit too accomplished. Avery doesn’t see that while she is a hard-worker, she plunges into her work in order to escape the pain she feels on the inside. She uses working as a way to keep distance between herself and her potential suitor, Joe Travis; she uses working as a way to take care of her sister, Sofia; she used working as a way to shut down the pain of her past. It is a pattern that she is in denial of because she got used to it. Avery processes everything she sees, which lets the reader process not only what goes on around her, but also process what goes on within herself.
Why does one get married? This question is a common theme in the novel. Kleypas illustrates different scenarios and reasons behind marriage. Marriage is a bridge to family and closeness. Avery sees this in Joe’s family-in an emergency, they stick together to help each other cope; if something is out of line, they speak up. The end-result is a tighter bond that is tough to break. Marriage can be seen as the definition of success or failure of a person. Avery had to counsel a client who had cold feet on his wedding day. He was scared to get married not because he felt he would be trapped, but because he was exposed to a bad example in his own life and was scared that he would repeat the pattern. Marriage can be seen as a means to an end, as Avery’s potential client spilled the beans behind her reason to get married: to avoid having to work, and marrying for money would secure that-even if there is no love in the marriage. Through Avery’s eyes, the reader sees that her view of marriage is shaped by her line of work and she forms her own conclusions on love and marriage as the novel progresses.
Trusting in one’s judgment is another recurring theme in the novel. Avery is a bit lost in her own life because she refuses to see anything beyond her work and pain-or so she thinks. Kleypas reminds the reader that life is a journey and somewhere along the path, viewpoints will be tested and one will learn how to be strong by making decisions that feels right to them. Although guarded, Avery was wise to not rush into anything until she works out the events and facts she encounters. By seeing the closeness of Joe’s family, she sees that support in a family is important if the family is to survive the obstacles. She’s learned that by asking questions, she can weed out true intentions of her clients; sees what really existed in the opportunity she would get by moving to New York City; she also sees that the actions of one individual can have a domino effect on multiple individuals. She wins the internal battle within herself by taking to heart the facts and opinions of her sister, her friend Steven, Joe, no-time-for-love friend Jasmine, and scheming client Hollis. Weeding out what coincides and/or clashes with her values is the key to letting go of her past and embracing her future.
“Kleypas is among the crème de la crème of romance authors and this novel illustrates why…Kleypas characters manage to be both larger-than-life and friend-next-door accessible, and it’s hard not to be seduced by her breathtaking romance, believable yet wrenching plot twists, and pitch-perfect world building.” Kirkus Reviews
“Kleypas satisfyingly concludes her Texas-based Travis Brothers quartet…with this sweet contemporary…she’s a lovably flawed heroine and he’s a complex, appealing, and forthright hero. While this fun tale stands out on its own, the author also provides satisfying glimpses of the happily paired off protagonists of the earlier books in the series.” Publishers Weekly Reviews.
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