Baring It All
Loveswept / June 24, 2013 / $.99 digital
It is with great discretion that this columnist discusses the sensitive topic of undergarments. Some ladies, it seems, do not pay strict attention to what they wear under their gowns. A crucial error, my ladies.
Lady Violet knows Lord Christian Jepstow is interested in women. The problem is, he hasn’t seemed to realize that Violetis a living, breathing woman—a woman with needs. Which is a huge problem, considering the fact that Violet and Christian are betrothed. Violet has no intention of saying her vows without knowing if her husband has the capacity to love her properly, so she does what anyone would do in her situation—she steps into his study and offers to take off her clothes. What happens next could be an utter disaster . . . or it could be surprising, seductive, and sizzlingly sexy.
(Full disclosure: Megan Frampton is the community manager for Heroes and Heartbreakers.)
Megan Frampton's Baring It All begins where most Regency romances end—the blushing innocent bride is happily engaged to the handsome, titled gentleman to the joy of both their families. What kind of story could come after that? When the young woman in question is Lady Violet, the story is sexy and playful and wonderful.
Violet is engaged to her best friend’s brother, Lord Christian Jepstow. Violet has long been secretly in love with Christian. He’s tall and intelligent and so handsome he makes her breath skip on a regular basis, but their polite acquaintance transforms into a polite betrothal with the requisite number of dances at every ball—two, no more, no less. Violet is desperately unhappy being invisible to her distracted future husband and decides she needs to take a risk to make him notice the woman he’s promised to marry. When her friend reveals that Christian will be at home one evening, Violet takes her fate in her own hands and slips away to see him. She’s going to find out if there is any passion hidden away in Christian.
Christian gets dragged away from his books to write his sister’s column “What Not to Bare.” The problem? Although he has a wild and unrestrained past, he has immersed himself in his studies and now he has to write about women’s undergarments. He considers himself a little out of practice. And then Violet walks in and offers her service, shaking up his world. He’d agreed to the engagement to placate his family, but he never had any intention of allowing his future wife hinder his work.
I loved the premise of this story. Violet might be the typical Regency heroine, sheltered and virginal and left with no one to turn to for advice. She certainly isn’t going to talk to her parents. So she muddles through on her own. Sometimes the more assertive, modern feeling Regency heroines take a bit of suspension of disbelief on the part of the reader. I’m often willing to ignore the absurd stretching of credulity for the sake of a fun read but that wasn’t at all required here.
In fact, the very believability of Violet was my favorite thing about this story. When she begins to bare it all, she’s scared. She is well aware of all the ways her plans could backfire. She is also in love with and betrothed to a man who didn’t even bother to kiss her when he proposed. She is desperate to get her fiancé to at least notice her.
From before the first glove hits the floor, the story swings from sexy to sweetly romantic to playful. In every moment I was more and more certain that this couple belonged together and would be better together than they were apart. Violet brazens her way through a seduction and eventually, Christian sees Violet not just as his fiancée—but as a surprisingly desirable woman.
Her determination to push Christian and find some way to get what she wants despite the limitation of her options by society just adds to the tension between Violet and Christian. Because Violet might want to a kiss, or even a bit more than that, but what she really wants from Christian is a connection. And she isn’t going to let him get away with giving her anything less than his heart.
This story is short. All the events of the novella take place in a single evening spent in a single room, but it still is a satisfying read.
Learn more about or pre-order a copy of Baring It All by Megan Frampton before its June 24 release:
Julia Broadbooks writes contemporary romance. She lives in the wilds of suburban Florida with her ever patient husband and bakes ridiculous amounts of sugary treats for her teens' friends. Find her on Twitter @juliabroadbooks.