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Book Review: One To Watch by Kate Stayman-London

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Recommend to Others?: Yes
Favorite Quotes: “…it’s the hardest thing in the world. To have been that hurt, to feel that afraid, and to know that the only way you can be really, fully happy is to risk going through it all again? It’s a terrifying choice to make. But if you want to let someone be that close to you, it’s the only way.”

“It’s about choice. A lot of people live their lives by default, walking through the doors in front of them because it seems expedient. That’s one way to have a family. But us? We chose each other…that’s why it feels so scary. Because it is. You’re choosing your family.”

ABOUTReal love…as seen on TV

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 anti-fat 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, razor-sharp debut, Bea has to decide whether it might just be worth trusting these men–and herself–for a chance to live happily ever after.

 

My Review: I loved One To Watch. I loved seeing Bea’s journey of self-discovery, self-love and body positivity. The book aptly depicts the internal and external conflicts experienced by plus-size women in a thin-preferred world, especially in the world of fashion and dating.

Through Bea’s eyes everything felt raw and real. Every insult and degradation and fat shaming was painful. It never got easier for Bea, only harder. Being on a show like Main Squeeze (lol, mega title cringe!) was a true test of the carefully crafted armor she’d been encasing herself in her entire life.

The competition is very similar to ABC’s The Bachelor. If you’re a die-hard fan, casual watcher, or know the gist of things, you won’t have much trouble immersing yourself in the book’s version of the dating show. Chris Harrison always says that every season will be the most dramatic. In the case of Main Squeeze, it was THE MOST dramatic season yet. I love all the allusions to The Bachelor franchise (such as there being a few guys with the same first name or there being villain contestants, lol!). The author creatively transforms all that material/history into something new and just as captivating. The story (and show) keeps you guessing and it was difficult (at least for me) to fully decide who makes it to the end.

Bea’s a great character and inspiring person. She’s kind and confident and living the good life as a popular fashion blogger. I love Bea’s family and how close everyone is. There’s so much big-family love when she’s with them. I also like the close bond she has with her mother and stepdad.

Bea and her best friend, Marin, are die-hard fans, so I was really surprised she’d agree to be on a show like Main Squeeze. Once on the show, her insecurities cause her to self-sabotage herself on numerous occasions, not wanting to trust the process or the men. Lots of mistakes and miscommunications and assumptions are made by everyone, which creates a lot of tense and awkward moments that push the plot forward. Yet it’s great to watch Bea slowly thrive and prove she deserves to not only be on the show but deserving of love like any other woman no matter their size.

I liked that the book itself is a mix of prose, transcriptions from texts/chats/emails, articles, etc. It made the whole reading experience very immersive and real, authenticating everything that happens to Bea. The mix of content enhances things.

Oh-my-goodness I did not see the plot twists coming nor could not have imagined how the show would end. They were the most shocking of plot twists but extremely satisfying of endings I have ever read. Everything came full circle rather nicely.

I can’t say enough good things about One To Watch. There are characters to love, characters to hate. I laughed, I cringed, during my running commentary about the things that were happening. One To Watch is an engaging contemporary romance with a story you have to read to believe.

One reply on “Book Review: One To Watch by Kate Stayman-London”

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