Title: Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovitch
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 429 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher
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?
Stephanie Evanovitch’s debut novel, Big Girl Panties, is a poignant, funny and ultimately uplifting romance between an overweight woman and her personal trainer. The novel begins with a brutally honest and cringe-worthy first encounter that is difficult to read but accurately reflects where both characters are coming from. It is a sad fact of life that people are quick to judge one another based on outward appearances, and lead protagonists, Holly Brennan and Logan Montgomery, are guilty of doing just that. But once they take the time to delve a little deeper, Holly and Logan are pleasantly surprised by what they learn not only about each other but themselves as well.
Both Holly and Logan have their fair share of flaws and while I always liked Holly, I veered back and forth between like and dislike for Logan. Logan effortlessly fell into a lucrative career as a personal trainer and he is fairly superficial at first. The women he dates are blond, beautiful and model thin and what I would classify as nothing but attractive arm candy. His emotions are never engaged and in fact, he has not ever had a serious relationship. Right from the start, Logan misjudges pretty much everything about Holly and his surprising attraction to her challenges him in ways he never imagined. Of the two, Logan is the one who is undergoes the most growth and the fact that it takes him most of the novel to change makes his transformation believable.
Holly is easy to relate to in so many ways. She has always struggled with her weight and self-esteem issues. Without much of a support system after her husband’s death, she turned to food for comfort and she is now quite overweight. Holly uses self-deprecating humor and zingy one liners as a defense mechanism and she reveals very little about her personal life. But she is not afraid of hard work and she always rises to whatever challenge Logan throws her way. Holly gradually loses weight, emerges from her grief and gains control of her life.
While Big Girl Panties is fast-paced, the relationship between Holly and Logan is slow-growing and they are friends long before they are lovers. While Holly’s crush on Logan is there from the beginning, Logan is confused by his attraction to Holly. The two eventually wind up acting on their mutual desire and their sex scenes are very hot and steamy. But if their relationship is ever going to be more than a passionate affair, Logan will have to come to terms with his prejudices and Holly will have to overcome her residual insecurities.
Outside of a few confusing perspective changes, Big Girl Panties is a well-written, engrossing romance. The novel is a little uncomfortable at times due to the realistic storyline but it is also quite entertaining and thought-provoking. An impressive first effort by newcomer Stephanie Evanovich that I recommend to anyone who doesn’t mind imperfect characters who overcome real life problems on their way to happily ever after.