Hi, my name is Karen, and I love reading romances about fat people.
One of the biggest issues I have with romance books is that the main characters – both the heroes and heroines – are typically straight-sized.
Why? I find it hard to believe that fat people don’t have romances. We all know that’s not true IRL, so why is it so hard to believe in books? Why can’t the chubby girl get the guy?
Or – and this is even worse to me – the heroine goes through a drastic change where she drops an excessive amount of weight, has a makeover, and the hero doesn’t realize just how beautiful she was until he sees her without the extra 20, 25, 30, or more pounds. Ugh. It hurts because it makes me personally feel like I don’t deserve my HEA (Happy Ever After, I just learned this term at BLC) until I’m smaller.
Well, I’m here to tell you that this idea is bullshit. Welcome to Big Fat Books.
Big Fat Books is my new regular column where I read and review books with plus sized main characters where their weight loss is NOT central to the concept of their happiness. Because any BODY can get the booty (or not, depending on their preference), save the day, and end on a high note.
I was inspired to start this column when I read Feel The Heat by Kate Meader last weekend at Book Lovers Con. Allison got this as one of the books in her swag bag, and while we were sitting around, she read the description of this book out loud:
If you can’t stand the heat…
Photographer Lili DeLuca spends all her time managing her family’s Italian restaurant, instead of following her dream of getting an MFA. When famous British chef Jack Kilroy unexpectedly challenges her father to a cook-off, Lili decides she’s tired of playing it safe and vows to seduce the tempting Brit. But once a video of her and Jack kissing goes viral and her luscious (If voluptuous) butt starts trending on Twitter, Lili fears she’s cooked up a recipe for disaster…
Get into the bedroom
Jack Kilroy’s celebrity has left him feeling used and used up. While Lili’s oh-so-sexy moans when she tastes his delicious creations turn him on, he’s even more aroused by how unimpressed this beautiful, funny woman is with his fame. He knows they could be amazing together, if she could only see past his rabid, bitch fork-wielding fan base. Now, as he’s about to start a new prime time TV cooking show, can Jack convince Lili to realize her own ambitions – and turn up the heat in his kitchen?
Y’all, I am not ashamed to say that I essentially BEGGED to borrow this book from her.
Voluptuous MC? CHECK.
Hot British chef? CHECK.
Possible food porn? CHECK.
In the words of Sarah from Smart Bitches Trashy Books, THAT IS ALL MY CATNIP.
Big Fat Thoughts
So, the main character, Lili, isn’t majorly plus sized, she’s more of an inbetweenie. It’s said very plainly at the beginning of the book that she’s a size 14. Based on her description, I’d say she’s more on this THICC side of things. It is a welcome sight, though, considering that a lot of romance heroines are smaller. Even though she’s pretty up front from the get-go about being fine with her body, there are a few things that kind of bug me about her:
- It is made very clear that she used to be larger. Not sure HOW much larger, but definitely bigger. She flashes back a lot to her high school days where she was bullied by classmates about her size. She apparently lost a large amount of weight between then and the current day because she started exercising. So even though she doesn’t go through a weight loss transformation during the events of the book, there’s definitely mention of her losing weight in the book.
- She has some major self-esteem issues due the above-mentioned bullying, having a thin hot sister (who is not a rival, thank god), dealing with some pretty shitty people on the internet after someone films her and Jack making out, and dealing with a bunch of other crappy people in her life. She has a lot – and I mean A LOT – of thoughts that revolve around her not being good enough for Jack. Even after she tells him how she feels and he’s like “nah girl I love all of your fine self”, she still has a ton of doubts and it results in some nasty situations where I was just sitting there like GIRL, KNOCK THAT SHIT OFF AND MAKE OUT WITH THAT MAN ALREADY.
I expected Jack, the love interest, to have that cold British thing going, but nope. About 25 pages in I was like “oh, this is sexy Gordon Ramsey who focuses on French food and curses less”. I mean, I like Gordon Ramsey, but I never thought of him in that “how YOU doin’” way until this book. (If you don’t like him, watch him on Masterchef Junior. The way he is with those kids is just precious and makes my ovaries seize up.) I do like that over the course of the book he really pushes Lili to go for what she wants rather than what everyone else wants from her, and even though he gets super revved up for her from the get-go, he pretty much says he’s in it for the long haul instead of just wanting to get some from her. He also has to prove to Lili that he’s not just a celebrity that she thinks she knows from the entertainment news, which I’m sure would be something that a celebrity would have to do. He’s definitely got that alpha male thing going on, especially in the sexytime scenes, but he’s not all GRUNT GIMME WOMAN BITS GRUNT.
The supporting cast are pretty well-rounded themselves, which makes sense considering that pretty much everyone who’s introduced end up with their own love stories in the series. From what I can see, book two (All Fired Up) focuses on Lili’s workaholic sister, Cara, and book three in the series (Hot and Bothered) focuses on Jules and Tad. All of these characters and their stories are introduced in this book, and I’m kind of interested in reading the rest of them.
Feel the Heat is a fun book, a cute read, and even though it’s not QUITE as body-positive as I’d like it to be, I still enjoyed the book overall. I think it’s a good read for the beach or by the pool and it’s DEFINITELY piqued my interest in more chef/foodie romance settings. Not only that, it’s inspired me to seek out more fat-focused romances and to start the Big Fat Books column!
Do you have any recommendations for books with plus-sized main characters? Feel free to leave a comment, send me a message, or chat me up on social media!
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. I only promote companies and/or products that I personally have used and would recommend.