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Simply Romantic is a free and volunteer book review service by Deanna Frances, author of Taking Chances. As an avid reader, Deanna hopes to help promote published authors by launching her own book review service for romance novels. If you are interested in having Deanna review your book, please read her review policy and fill out the request form below. 

 

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Simply Romantic Book Reviews

 
 

Simply Romantic Book Review:  

One to Watch: A Novel by Kate Stayman-London

August 1st, 2020


Summary: "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?

Just when Bea has sworn off dating altogether, she gets an intriguing call: Main Squeeze wants her to be its next star, surrounded by men vying for her affections. Bea agrees, on one condition—under no circumstances will she actually fall in love. She’s in this to supercharge her career, subvert harmful beauty standards, inspire women across America, and get a free hot air balloon ride. That’s it.

But when the cameras start rolling, Bea realizes things are more complicated than she anticipated. She’s in a whirlwind of sumptuous couture, Internet culture wars, sexy suitors, and an opportunity (or two, or five) to find messy, real-life love in the midst of a made-for-TV fairy tale. In this joyful, wickedly observant debut, Bea has to decide whether it might just be worth trusting these men—and herself—for a chance to live happily ever after." 

(Courtesy of Amazon.com)


Let me start by saying that I was so excited to read this book! As soon as I read the description on the Book of the Month website, I knew I had to read it. While I've read books that include plus-sized women before, I was intrigued by the idea of reading a story about a plus-sized woman starring in a Bachelor style reality show. I've always loved reading books that are relatable to me, and as a young woman who is considered plus-sized, I truly connected with the way Bea felt about her body and her image throughout the novel. 


At the beginning of the novel, Bea has an incredibly magical night with her best friend,  Ray, who she's loved for as long as she can remember. The only problem: he's engaged to another woman. This fact seems completely irrelevant to both of them when Ray reveals that he's always had feelings for Bea, but the next morning, Bea wakes up to find that Ray has vanished. Despite her attempts to contact him, Ray seems to have completely forgotten about their night together, and Bea knows that she'll never be the same. When she's offered the position of the next Main Squeeze,  Bea is initially shocked. While she was already known as a popular fashion blogger, she knew that putting herself into the spotlight of a show like Main Squeeze  was an entirely different ballgame. She'd faced haters and "fat-shamers" on her Instagram page for years, so why would she choose to subject herself to an even bigger platform to be heavily scrutinized by people that had never even met her? After some convincing from the producer, Lauren, Bea agrees to star in the show. Despite all of the hate that she might receive from being a plus-sized woman in a position typically only given to the thinnest and most model-like women, Bea knows that if she can change the way at least one person thinks about plus-sized women deserving love and happiness, it will all be worth it. But Bea and Lauren both agree on one thing: Bea will act the part, but she has no intention of actually falling in love on the show.  


During the live opening ceremony of the show, Bea's spirits are almost entirely broken after being immediately rejected and scoffed at by several of the handsome suitors. Over the next several days of filming, she is faced with some of the most embarrassing and intimidating experiences of her life, but she does find some light in a few of the kinder suitors, even if their kindness is partially provoked by the producers. After being confronted by a suitor named Asher about her true intentions for being on the show, Bea realizes that no matter how hard she tries, there's no way that she can fake her way through the show. If she has any hope of making a difference for young women everywhere, she has to gather the courage to face the suitors head-on, even if that means she may have to be truthful and vulnerable with men who she imagines have no interest in her whatsoever. As Bea learns more about her individual suitors, she realizes that she may be able to open herself up to love after all...if she can figure out which suitors are being truthful about their feelings, and which ones are just in it for the TV screen time.


Overall, I truly enjoyed this novel. Not only was it a great story about finding love in the place you least expect it, I found that it was written in a unique style that I hadn't seen before. Instead of having distinct chapters, the story line follows the 9 episodes of Bea's Main Squeeze  season. While some of the book is written in a traditional 3rd person point of view prose style, it also features blog posts, news articles, emails, and podcast chats from Bea, the viewers, fans, and producers, which I thought was really different and engaging. While I thought the story may be a little predictable, it was honestly the complete opposite. Stayman-London threw in several twists and turns that kept me interested the entire time I was reading. Although the story is fictional, and a plus-sized woman from Ohio starring on The Bachelor any time soon is unlikely, the characters were all very relatable, and Bea's story is heartfelt, emotional, and honest.  I look forward to reading more from Kate Stayman-London in the future. 

You can purchase a copy of One to Watch: A Novel by Kate Stayman-London at the following link: