RISKING IT ALL
by Christi Barth
Who doesn’t love Naked Men? In Christi Barth’s irresistible series, a group of close-knit friends talk out their problems with naked honesty on a popular blog. Bonded by a high-school tragedy, they’re moving on from the past—and fighting for the future with strong and sassy women.
Griffin Montgomery helps people. As a teenager, he kept his best friends alive after their soccer team’s bus crashed in the Alps. Now, as a Coast Guard search and rescue pilot, he saves lives with reckless abandon—until he goes too far and earns a lengthy suspension. Working on the Naked Men projects keeps his mind busy, but Griff’s itching to get back in the action. That’s when he finds his latest rescue mission: a pretty wallflower who’s stuck in her comfort zone.
Chloe Widmore doesn’t take risks. As a professional letter writer, she gets enough excitement out of expressing other people’s emotions. So when the hottest man she’s ever seen invades her coffee shop, Chloe surprises herself with how much she wants to be with him. Routines make her feel safe. Griff makes her deliciously unsafe, in so many ways. But falling for him is one risk she might just have to take . . . whether she’s ready or not.
“The joke fell flatter than Missy Constantine’s chest beneath the Miracle Bra that had fooled half the football team into sticking their hands up her sweater.”
“At this point, her virginity was like an unwanted party guest who stuck around after everyone else left.”
“Men look at a virgin like finding the Loch Ness Monster – once you’ve got it, what the heck do you do with it?”
“Why reinvent the wheel when there’s a brand-new one with untouched treads right in front of us?”
“To me, being loved is both the ultimate safety and the ultimate risk.”
I was a bit slow to warm up to this story but I began to admire the characters for their ability to compensate and overcome their traumatic pasts, although I also found them more than a bit frustrating. Both of the main characters had experienced a major trauma in their teens that significantly impacted/scared/reshaped their psyches. Griff’s experience caused him to form a fierce bond with his friends and an intense need to personally jump in and save/assist/help others – as if it were instinctual. Being a Coast Guard pilot with the motto of “Always Ready” fits Griff perfectly. Chloe’s life choices were more rooted in controlling or avoiding her personal anxieties, and although she also took a route that involved assisting others, it was more from a distance and through paper communication.
Despite her vast body of work, this is the first time I have read Christi Barth. I enjoyed her humor and clever use of metaphor as this group of successful, varied, intelligent, and witty characters bantered and teased each other. I also found the premise of the plot and story line to be interesting and relevant. Moreover, I truly loved the idea of these witty alpha men blogging so openly and honestly with each other, and for them to have entitled their blog as Naked Men to be nothing short of ingenious. The writing was easy to follow and entertaining, and I hope to see more books to follow for the other Naked Men characters.
About the Author
Christi Barth earned a Masters degree in vocal performance and embarked upon a career on the stage.
A love of romance then drew her to wedding planning. Ultimately she succumbed to her lifelong love of books and now writes contemporary romance.
Christi lives in Maryland with her husband.