What Not to Bare
Loveswept / October 14, 2013 / $2.99 digital
Lady Charlotte Jepstow certainly knows how to make an impression—a terrible one. Each one of her ball gowns is more ostentatiously ugly than the one before. Even she has been forced to wonder: Is she unmarried because of her abysmal wardrobe, or does she wear clashing clothing because she doesn’t want to be pursued in the first place? But when Charlotte meets Lord David Marchston, suddenly a little courtship doesn’t sound so bad after all.
David will be the first to admit he’s made some mistakes. But when he gets yanked from his post by his superiors, he is ordered to do the unthinkable to win back his position: woo his commander’s niece. If David wants his life back, he must use his skills as a negotiator to persuade society that Charlotte is a woman worth pursuing, despite her rather unusual “flair” for color. But David does such a terrific job that he develops an unexpected problem, one that violates both his rakish mentality and his marching orders: He’s starting to fall in love.
(Full disclosure: Megan Frampton is the community manager of Heroes and Heartbreakers.)
Megan Frampton’s What Not to Bare balances several tropes to spin a fun and creative tale with characters that I can truly say I wish were my friends.
David Marchston is a second son who recently returned from India where he had been dubbed Mr. Gorgeous by the locals. As his name suggests, he is gorgeous, flawless, and seemingly out of reach of plump, unfashionable Charlotte. I immediately fell in love with Charlotte. She’s bold and mostly unapologetic about her fashion sense. We, and Marchston, first meet her when her beautiful friend, Emma, asks her to write her fashion column while Emma is away tending to her pregnant sister. Charlotte reluctantly agrees and meets Marchston, a man who quickly inspires her topics for the column.
Marchston himself is a diplomat, a man who should be eloquent and well-spoken, but in his interactions with Charlotte only ever manages to say exactly the wrong thing—What are you wearing often slips through his lips for starters. Soon, the pair become friends, mostly because Marchston is forced to court Charlotte when her uncle, Marchston’s Foreign Office supervisor, orders him to help her reputation.
He did enjoy spending time with her, but nothing more. There couldn't be. What he wanted, what he needed, was to keep his reputation clean so he could return to India.
Despite this less than ideal beginning, Marchston quickly realizes that he actually likes Charlotte. More importantly, that she likes him not because he's handsome, but for who he is. And maybe he could be attracted to her—if she would just take off her atrocious clothes.
That was all. He should not be thinking of how and when he could kiss her again.
Nor how it had felt when they had laughed together.
Nor how she seemed to see beyond his looks to the man underneath.
None of that.
While Marchston, at first, understood Charlotte's nickname, The Abomination, (after all wearing “frog green” and purple is only now somewhat acceptable), he quickly became one of her defenders. Charlotte's mother, her mother's friend's son, Charles (who gave her the nickname), are at the top of the list of people David wants to thrash on her behalf. What makes their courtship all the more endearing is that it is David who changes, not Charlotte. David begins to see the person behind—and underneath—the clothing.
The chemistry between Charlotte and David is terrific and grows slowly as David's affection for Charlotte grows. The next time we see this couple, I hope they're riding off into the Indian sunset where Charlotte's love for color will be accepted.
Learn more or order a copy of What Not to Bare by Megan Frampton, available October 14, 2013:
Jennifer Proffitt is a Midwest transplant to New York City. She spends most of her time reading and writing about romance, but you can follow her other adventures on Twitter @JennProffitt. She works for Heroes and Heartbreakers and Criminal Element.