Monday, August 26, 2013

Book Review: Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich


Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich is a rollicking and poignant romantic comedy about a young widow who decides to get in shape...and winds up getting her groove back—and a whole lot more!
Holly Brennan used food to comfort herself through her husband’s illness and death. Now she’s alone at age thirty-two. And she weighs more than she ever has. When fate throws her in the path of Logan Montgomery, personal trainer to pro athletes, and he offers to train her, Holly concludes it must be a sign. Much as she dreads the thought of working out, Holly knows she needs to put on her big girl panties and see if she can sweat out some of her grief.
Soon, the easy intimacy and playful banter of their training sessions lead Logan and Holly to most intense and steamy workouts. But can Holly and Logan go the distance as a couple now that she’s met her goals—and other men are noticing? from


I picked this book up on a whim because I thought it looked hilarious. It had an intriguing premise: a large woman decides to change her life dramatically by losing weight. As a woman who has changed her own life over the past year, by losing a significant amount of weight, I was ready to love this book for the topic alone because it was such an unexplored theme. I was greatly disappointed.

I “get” what I think the author was attempting to do with this book: educate people about obesity, confront stereotypes and provide a larger heroine, thereby proving “overweight women” can have fun and have a HEA (even if they still have 20-50 pounds left to lose).  The writing, however, was not very good and in my opinion did not convey the message as well as it could have been done by a more experienced writer. I thought the hero, Logan, was a shallow man-whore, self-centered, overly-focused on feminine weight, commenting about his best friend’s love of women with excess flesh with the implication he doubted his ability to “deal” with extra weight in a partner. The sex was mediocre and the side story involving previously mentioned best friend and his partner’s sex practices was really extraneous.

My biggest problem with the book is how it was so “preachy” about obesity and health. I’m not complaining about pointing out some facts about obesity and how some people will never be thin, due to bone size or body type. Certainly a large portion of people need to lose weight and this book does indeed point out safe ways to do just that: proper nutrition, portion control and exercise are the best way to do that. There is no magic pill that will take away years of bad habits and psychological problems related to food overnight or even in a month. My problem with the book comes more from the way the author presents the  issue. She probably meant to portray realistically confronting society’s notion of thinness and health, but it seemed like she got caught up in a few of her subplots instead of having the hero confront his prejudices earlier in the book. As it stands, he just magically comes to his senses (well, OK, with a little help from…a certain event—no spoilers!) at the end of the book. It just didn’t ring true to me. I had already invested so much time and frustration in grumbling to myself about what a scumbag in an Adonis suit he was that I just didn’t buy his transformation.

There were, however, some really good parts. I loved the part when Holly worked at a gym and encouraged an extremely large woman who had come into the gym to begin the road to losing weight. That alone was worth the price of the book (but it wasn’t enough to give it an overall good rating). I loved when Holly stood up for herself on a few occasions that really warranted it. I wanted to yell at the book “You go, Girl!”  

Recommendation: While the book has a few good points, I cannot in good conscience recommend it to most people. I think the target market is overweight women and it does have some scenes that will appeal to them, but as I mentioned earlier, there is an emphasis on change, not acceptance of who one is. While change is necessary in changing life situations where one is obese, I would wager people reading this book don’t want to read a fiction book about the need to change their life (they KNOW it already!). This review is written by a formerly fat person, so I know the importance of change, patience and perseverance, but I also know I despise being told what to do in my personal life by a book I pick up to read for laughs. Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie deals with a not-tiny heroine and the Adonis who falls for her in a much better way.

Sensuality: some sex, not amazingly written and spanking.

Rating: 2 stars

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