So the book blurb reads like this: Bea Schumacher is a devastatingly stylish plus-size fashion blogger who has amazing friends, a devoted family, legions of Insta followers—and a massively broken heart. Like the rest of America, Bea indulges in her weekly obsession: the hit reality show Main Squeeze. The fantasy dates! The kiss-off rejections! The surprising amount of guys named Chad! But Bea is sick and tired of the lack of body diversity on the show. Since when is being a size zero a prerequisite for getting engaged on television?
Bea gets cast on the show as the first plus-sized lead. You would think based on the blurb on the back that the heroine is confident in her body, but she is crippling insecure. In fact, she doesn’t believe any of the suitors on the show she is cast would be into her. The problem with this is the book starts where Bea is in college studying in Paris, and is shy and insecure. She gets gifted a cloak from a vendor in a market which sparks her interest in clothes. But THEN, SHE EXPERIENCES NO EMOTIONAL GROWTH as she establishes a successful business as a fashion blogger. She doesn’t date anyone despite travelling the world. She pines after her co-worker, and then after he drunkenly takes her to bed thinks it’s true love.
Okay, so let’s pretend this person that Kate Stayman-London has created is completely emotionally stunted and that’s fine! By the end of the book however, she is spouting such worldly, interesting, wise things, that I could NOT believe this was the same character. No one does a complete turn in personality that fast. It was very jarring.
The rest of the story is a paint by numbers satire of the Bachelor and Bachelorette. The producer casts a conventional group of attractive Brads and doesn’t tell them the bachelorette is plus sized for shock value. (I will warn people the book adds comments from people on the internet that disparage Bea and they will be very upsetting to some.) You have your villains, you have your international heartthrob, you have your person who has kids. That part is fine. Some parts of it were clever enough to make me smile. Then she rushes to the end to put her with one contestant. Who is Asian. Which is great, diversity in a cast that doesn’t exist in real life. But….it’s like she was writing her characters to check off boxes. There’s a lesbian best friend- check! There’s a young man who is the token African American character who has no job and no idea what he wants to do with his life….so….yikes.
I read this book because Linda Holmes of Pop Culture Happy Hour posted on twitter about how this characters’ insecurities with dating resonated with her. But that’s not what the reader is promised with the book blurb, and ultimately, I did not care for it. This is marketed as a romance, and it is not a romance, unless you count 2 pages of making out and a proposal at the end that is fast forwarded to.