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Review: Chubby & Charming by Mary E. Thompson

It’s been awhile since I have felt the need to write a review. However, this novel frustrated me so much, I felt compelled to. As an overweight woman, this novel was not only frustrating, it was borderline offensive and we deserve better. 

Both the characters and the plot are as thin as tissue paper, and just as transparent. The cliches begin with Mandy’s self introduction about how she’s happy with her life and does not need men, even for friends. From there, everything is so cookie cutter, the reader could have written the outline without ever reading the rest of the novel. Hero is over the top gorgeous? Check. Still somehow is excessively sexually attracted to the heroine? Check! Multiple misunderstandings involving the heroine’s weight to create conflict instead of any true creative conflict? Multiple checks! Hero almost obsessively chasing after the heroine because he can’t, for some reason, imagine life without her? Unfortunately, check. 

Mandy is not a likable character, either, and doesn’t even have a personality beyond being a “fat girl.” Not to mention, her page 3 rant about her best friend Claire portrays Mandy’s true colors not only as an awful person, but an awful friend as well. She likes to claim that “fat is fun” but that immediately follows her claiming Claire – her best friend – is “wasting her body because if I could have been skinny I would have.” This is vital to remember when the reader reaches scenes later in the book such as where Mandy eats four gourmet cupcakes in a row, almost making it six. I am for body positivity and am not here to body shame anyone, but she claims to have been fat all her life because her weight is “genetics and uncontrollable.” Was it, Mandy? Was it really?

From the moment she actually meets Xander in person, her insecurities are immediately apparent in her downright rude interaction with him. Then the rest of the novel is misunderstanding after misunderstanding of her just being overly sensitive about her weight and taking it out on him, forcing him to grovel after her in hopes that she will be gracious enough to grant him another chance for something he did not even do wrong despite her trying to make him the bad guy. Nowhere in the novel does she prove that she is worth chasing after, and after how poorly she consistently treats Xander, it is hard to root for her as a heroine much less a romantic interest.

Normally, I DNF novels that start off as poorly as these, novels that so clearly mean to appeal to a specific demographic but miss the mark by a mile. As a larger woman, I know that my experiences are not the same as others and I cannot speak for the group as a whole. However, I would love for a novel involving larger women that does not follow this frustratingly overused formula lead by truly awful heroines. 

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