Wednesday, January 15, 2014

TBR Challenge 2014: Baring It All
Disclaimer: The author and I go way back.  Back before blogging became a "thing" and I was with The Romance Reader, she was a reviewer at All About Romance.  Over the years we've been friendly online, I'd see her at conferences etc.  So when she helped to concoct the idea that would eventually become Heroes & Heartbreakers (it was simply called "Project X" back in those development stages!), and she asked me to write a couple of columns for her to help pitch the concept?  I said, sure.  H&H took hold, I stayed on as a columnist, and Megan now edits the columns I submit.  So yes, we have a working relationship and I think she's the bee's knees.

The Book: Baring It All by Megan Frampton

The Particulars: Historical romance short story, 2013, Loveswept, digital only release

Why Was It In Wendy's TBR?:  I picked it up at RWA 2013 in Atlanta.  Also, see above disclaimer.  I like Megan as a person, I thought maybe I should try reading some of her books.

The Review:
"Why did she have to fall in love with someone so smart?

Oh, that's right.  Because a stupid man just wouldn't do."
And that pretty well sums up what I liked about this story.  It's a quick, frothy concoction with some witty banter, equally witty internal monologues and some sexy shenanigans to spice up the proceedings. 

Lady Violet is betrothed to Lord Christian Jepstow, whom she has known since they were children.  She's, naturally, smitten as all get out - but the man doesn't seem to even notice she's a woman.  A troublesome bit of suspicion for Violet since they do plan to marry.  She'd prefer to have some passion in their marriage, instead of competing with his studies and various dead philosophers to gain his attention and affection.  What ever is a girl to do?  Well, take matters into her own hands of course!  Turns out her BFF and Christian's sister is unexpectedly called away and is unable to complete writing her newspaper column about women's fashion - the topic du jour being undergarments.  Violet proposes that they work on this endeavor together, and naturally the results = sexy times.

Enjoyment of this story hinges on a few things:

1) The reader has to be willing to go with the cotton candy, frothy tone of the tale the author lays out.  This, my friends, is about as far from angst as the Care Bears or My Little Pony.  I'm, generally speaking, an Angst Ho, but I loved the tone of this story and inhaled it in one sitting.

2) It's a short story, and by short story I mean short.  Similar in length to a Harlequin Historical Undone - so about 50 pages.  No sense in whining about it, it's a short story and it's not pretending to be anything else.  I think it works very well in this format and I didn't feel "cheated."  Hell, if anything, see #3....

3) This is, obvious from the first chapter, a short connected to the author's full-length release What Not To Bare, which just came out in October 2013.  I do think this short does what any decent short story connected to a series should do - which is stand alone, but also whet your appetite for other stories set in the same universe.  Mission accomplished!

I have the attention span of a fruit fly, and there are some days when Real Life is sucking out my very soul.  This is why I love reading shorts, because sometimes 50-100 pages is just about all my poor lil' wee brain can handle.  Yet I still want what feels like a complete story, and I want something that is going to entertain me while I'm on my lunch break at work, or trying to quickly unwind once I get home.  That's what Frampton accomplished for me with Baring It All.  One of the better short stories I've read in recent memory.

Final Grade = B+


Megan Frampton said...

Whee! Thanks, Wendy. I'm glad you liked it (and I know you woulda said if you didn't, which makes me feel even more proud that you did).

azteclady said...

I didn't have as good luck with my choices this time around--see here.

Jamie Brenner (aka Logan Belle) said...

I am also a big Megan Frampton fan, as a person but also as a writer. I enjoyed this short but also loved her novel Vanity Fare, FYI for any readers who like books more on the commercial fiction/chick lit end of the spectrum.

nath said...

This sounds really fun! :) Angst can sometimes be tiring. Nothing wrong with fun and light, especially if it's witty!

Wendy said...

Megan: Liked it, and bought What Not To Bare. Which means once again the TBR Challenge was totally counter-productive.

AL: Boo! Hiss! But on the bright side, it's totally out of your TBR now.

Jamie: I actually do have Vanity Fare, where else? In the TBR. Along with every book ever published.....

Nath: It was fun! I tend to wallow around in Angsty-Reads, but it's good for me to get that break every once in a while and read something frothy. This hit the spot and I immediately downloaded What Not To Bare after I finished it - so the short story did it's job :)

Hilcia said...

This sounds like a great choice for one of those moments when we just need to relax. It sounds fun and you sold me! Great review.

Amber said...

I'm the anti-angst girl usually, so I'm probably going to try this one. I've heard great things! And it has nothing at all to do with the fact that I flaked out on Megan as an H&H columnist.

Plus I'm into shorter works these days, so this sounds perfect.

Tracy said...

Sounds fun. I love a good frothy short every once in a while - kind of a cleanse from all the angst flying everywhere else. :)

Wendy said...

Hils: It's perfect for that - and it's also only around 50 pages. I read it at home, but I could have happily zipped through it on my lunch break at work.

Amber: I love shorter works, especially for authors that I'm not familiar with. I like Megan, but had never read any of her books - so this was a great introduction to her "style." I enjoyed the fun, playful tone of the story so happily downloaded What Not To Bare after finishing this.

Tracy: I can't read a steady diet of froth, but yes - even as much as I love angst, even I need a break from it every now and then. This story was perfect for that.