Big Girl Panties

9780062224842Stephanie Evanovich’s debut novel, Big Girl Panties: A Novel asks the question: can sexual attraction and love trump social stigma in thin world? 

Holly Brennan is a 32-year-old widow who has been through hell.  Her husband’s long illness and death left her exhausted and weighing close to 200 pounds.  Holly is  living alone with a lifetime of pain and she has a bad comfort food habit.

 Personal trainer Logan Montgomery likes to think of himself as nice guy. He makes a good living keeping beautiful people and top athletes in shape. Logan is good at his job, which gives him freedom and success. Logan loves freedom, period. Aside from his college roommate, Logan keeps people at a distance, including his lovers to whom he never commits. 

Fate brings Logan and Holly together when due to weather problems they are forced to sit in coach. Logan feeling guilty about all the negative “fat girl” thoughts he had about Holly once he learns she is a recent widow, so offers to train her and help her lose weight.  

Soon Holly is in love with Logan. But when Logan realizes he is in love with Holly he has to ask himself if he can love a woman who will never be really thin.  

Evanovich is pitch-perfect writing about gyms, fitness, and pressure to be beautiful and thin. Her writing in Big Girl Panties is poignant and sexy.  Evanovich plays with a kinky side romance on the part of Logan’s best friends who befriend Holly. Many women will relate to Holly and cheer her on. 

Big Girl Panties is an emotional roller coaster of romance.



If you could start over, would you?

Forgotten: A novel by Catherine McKenzie, asks the question, if you could start over , would you?
Feisty, young lawyer Emma Tupper is about to become a partner in her law firm when her mother’s dying wish sends her on an unwanted trip to Africa. Once there she is trapped for months and presumed dead.
When Emma returns she finds much of her life has disappeared. Her apartment is occupied and many of her belongings are gone. Her office now belongs to her arch rival.
As Emma struggles to regain her old life, she is forced to ask whether she really wants it all back.
Forgotten is the third novel by bestselling Montreal novelist, Catherine McKenzie. She is a lawyer and part-time law instructor, with a deft ear for the modern career-woman’s angst.  Forgotten is a deceptively light-hearted romance that will resonate with many women.

The Feminist and the Cowboy

The Feminist and the Cowboy: An Unlikely Love Story
by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez  is a real life love story that will give hope to single women over 35 who are still looking for love in all the wrong places.
Smart and sassy, the bestselling author of The Dirty Girl Social Club books ends up moving home with her divorced father when she hits a dry spell. She is forced to sell her Lexus and pricy home when she hits a “financial dry spell,” as she puts it. She and her young son move back home with her semi-retired professor father.
Finally, at age 42, Alisa is forced to confront the demons in her past when she decides to date again. She falls for a man who seems to be the antithesis of all her feminist values. Unable and unwilling to deny her attraction to a tall, handsome cowboy who is unmistakably attracted to her, Alisa must explore her past as an angry, man-hating, feminist who denied her own womanhood.
Valdes often digresses from her personal narrative to expound on the roles of feminism and gender roles in romantic relationships. However, by sharing her own story, she articulates a common conflict many women feel today between their desire for a strong masculine romantic partner and intellectual and economic equality.
She endearingly admits to a guilty desire to be pretty and sexy while also wanting to be a sassy, intellectual bad ass.
The Cowboy and The Feminist is a fascinating personal memoir as well as an interesting discourse on finding love in the new millennium.
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The magic in the right dress!

Little Black Dress by Susan McBride is the tale of  a magical mystical romance that happens to a woman of middle-age.  

Antonia has built a thriving career as a wedding planner. She is past 40 and about to settle for a live-in relationship with her accountant boyfriend Greg, instead of the romantic wedding she had anticipated.
As Antonia is about to move in with Greg, she is called away to her recently-widowed mother’s bedside. Her mother Evie has had a stroke and is in coma. Antonia must take over the family winery and work with a man she always thought was her family’s enemy due to an old feud. 
As Antonia works to straighten out her mother’s affairs, she is forced to stay at her mother’s home. One night she needs a dinner dress. Out of desperation she tries on her mother’s old black silk dress. Despite their size difference, the dress mysteriously fits her. Antonia also finds a life that “fits” her as she works side by side with her former foe.
As Antonia works in the winery, she slowly unravels years of family secrets. The magic in the mysterious black silk dress shared by her mother, aunt, and finally herself allows her to see a future filled with love and happiness.
Little Black Dress is a modern fairytale filled with mystical happenings and hope. It will appeal to the romantics among us.


Being committed is not for everyone todayI’m a bit put off by Elizabeth Gilbert

The author of the phenomenally popular Eat, Pray, and Love has been on TV, promoting the paperback edition of her sequel, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage. In it, Gilbert applies literary analysis and self-reflection to the subject of marriage.

Ms. Gilbert — who has embarked on her second marriage after much soul-searching — recommends that couples write down and disclose their five worst character flaws.
What silly advice!
She told an interviewer that romance and seduction lead to marriage; you show yourself in your best light. But then the reality of marriage cannot sustain it.
 I worry about people who would rely on a list for that information. They are obviously rushing into a marriage with someone they don’t know well at all. Gilbert is not wrong that we need to know the character of the person to whom we pledge our troth. Frankly darlings, right before marriage is a little late to discover a person’s character flaws – at least for my taste.
People don’t change
The biggest mistake women, and some men, make when they fall in love is thinking a person will change. Few people do and even fewer ever change for love. Cheaters keep on cheating, spendthrifts spend, and slobs, well, you get the idea.
Many people can be little lax about their behavior in university. They may party it up or be a little sloppy. But a year or two out of school, you should have a pretty good preview of who you will be getting as a partner. If you are dating someone in their thirties or older, shut off the oven — they’re cooked.
So, if there are things about them you don’t like — stinginess, bad temper, big debts, or some other deal-breaker — move on. Odds are they won’t change. Trust me darlings, he may be fabulous fun or good looking, but if he has huge debts, is crazy jealous, or has some other fatal flaw, move on.
Men are better at spotting trouble than women. I know a lovely woman. She is accomplished and talented, but she is an emotional handful. Men sense the drama and leave her quickly, despite her good looks and charm.
But you can fine tune
I had another friend, whom I am pretty sure will always be single. She nit-picks every man she meets. She wants her ideal man to speak several languages, be brilliant and well-traveled, and have an impressive job. She is cute, but a little pudgy. She speaks several languages and has a good, but not fabulous, job. She does not find too many men who meet her standards. I could also mention the competition she faces from younger, prettier women as she has reached 40, but I don’t think that’s her real problem. Her biggest problem is one I see all the time; she can’t see possibilities. She never spots a good fixer-upper. She is so full of her own demands and sense of entitlement that she is blind to what some very nice, successful guys have to offer.
You can’t change people but you can change their clothes, their apartments, and even some of their annoying friends. Men who are good, kind, smart, and fun — but a bit scruffy — often are waiting for a good woman to spiff them up.
Getting noticed
Wise woman and single-girl maven Helen Gurley Brown talked about a woman’s total package of assets. Helen’s definition of ‘package’ included looks, personality, wealth, career, and fame. She is a practical woman. She also said it is hard to attract men who had a much better package than you. Like it or not, she wasn’t wrong. So if want a lot in mate, do as Helen Gurley Brown suggested, and increase the value of your package.
Troubles can a rise from different domestic, financial, or child-rearing styles and expectations. Deal-breakers are personal. They are things on which you just can’t and won’t compromise. It’s insane how many women try to hide their true likes and dislikes in the initial stage of relationship. It’s crazy too. If you don’t like sports – I loathe them – can’t he watch them with his friends? Why pretend to be someone you are not, to attract someone?
Deal-breakers include big- and small-ticket items. They include fidelity, finance, and children. They can also include things such as having your own bathroom or study. I need my own bathroom, it’s my sanctuary.
Make a list of your deal-breakers and keep track of any potential partner’s “deal-breakers” too. They are easy to spot, if you look.
Financial disclosure
Anyone who marries today without financial disclosure is insane. It’s that simple. A good friend, almost on the eve of her wedding, discovered that the person she was about to marry had no assets and was in serious debt, despite a good income. They are happily married today, but the spender had to surrender his credit cards to the saver — before the ceremony.
Romance and seduction
Darlings, I have been lucky to know too many people who have good marriages. It is becoming a rarity. Marriage is not for everyone, but it can be a wonderful, if you enter it knowing that no one marries a perfect person – not even the person who marries you.
I remember two newlywed diplomats in Russia. They constantly bragged about the perfection of their union. They even had the same first name; it was too cute. Soon we were all rolling our eyes as they held forth on how they conducted their “dream marriage”. They lectured us happily long-married couples on the merits of banning TV in favour of long dinners and baths together. Before they left Moscow they took to declaring they “couldn’t wait to go to Italy and have babies”. None of us were surprised to hear they had divorced – in Italy.
I think romance holds a marriage together. If you lose your sense of romance, then you have one of those marriages that people dread – dull, boring, or worse. But it requires small daily acts of romance, not the big daily show, as the doomed newlyweds had attempted. Taking time to make your home attractive, to share a cocktail and a good dinner are the things that season a relationship with romance. Love notes written after years of marriage are romantic and affirming. Flowers for no reason and taking pleasure in a shared glass of wine may be clichéd, but they are the stuff of everyday romance.
If you are looking to be “committed” for the long run, take care of the practicalities, but never my darlings, forget the romance.

An appetite for life

Good Enough to Eat by Stacey Ballis is a delectable modern romance. 

Melanie Hoffman was once a heavyweight lawyer — and a heavy girl, too. When she loses more than a hundred pounds, she also loses her husband to her former best friend, who is bigger than she used to be. So she takes her pride and her share of the house money, and opens a restaurant. As a recent culinary school grad, her budget is tight, but she loves her new career friends. Now Melanie just has to learn to make peace with her new life as a mature single woman with stretch marks and a fragile heart. 

The book is a fun read and Ballis has good knack for capturing the dilemmas that single women face today. She gives Melanie a colourful, but believable coterie of friends, including a waif of a roommate. Nadia teaches Melanie that the best way to start over can be to leave the past in the past.
This book will delight romantics, especially those who believe in second chances.