The Hartigans, Book 2
Heat Factor: “Let’s act out our fantasies in the car” kind of hot
Character Chemistry: Insta-clicked…even though they’ve known each other for a while
Plot: Let’s all avoid our emotional baggage until it blows up in our faces
Muffin Top starts out like Lucy’s a plus-sized heroine who’s okay with herself, but it’s a LIE. The really boiled down synopsis could read like: Lucy doesn’t think Frankie could be into her because she’s a big woman, conflict ensues. But that’s not quite what’s going on here. Lucy doesn’t think Frankie can’t be into her because she’s a big woman, exactly. That does play in, but the issue is more that Frankie can’t be into Lucy because Frankie sleeps around with everyone in town. AND THEN the question becomes why would he choose to settle down with her of all people?
While I was reading, I pictured Lucy as Adele:
And Frankie, heartthrob firefighter extraordinaire, as Kristofer Hivju:
This book is meant to be a fun, sexy read. And the sex was ACES.
But, for me, a book doesn’t live or die based on sex alone, and I have come to realize that I simply cannot get into the headspace that Lucy occupies. Specifically, I don’t understand the idea of self-sabotage when, all things being equal, a (new!) relationship is progressing in a very positive trajectory. It’s not uncommon in contemporary romance, so Flynn isn’t alone in this. And yeah, Lucy’s big and I could get all hung up about her hang ups because I’m big and why we gotta be like that? But really, Lucy’s weight has very little to do with the conflict. She’s unwilling to be vulnerable to Frankie because she’s afraid to get hurt, which is the same issue that about 70% of heroines have. The whole “he’s a man-slut, why would he be with the fat girl” is just an excuse that clearly indicates that Lucy would benefit from therapy.
To be fair, Frankie also would benefit from therapy, because he’s got his own nonsense baggage where his dad is concerned, and he’s unwilling to make himself vulnerable, too. But Frankie wants to make the relationship work, so most of his concerns revolve around making Lucy believe him and trust him, and not screwing up. Which is pretty much impossible when Lucy has already decided that it’s not going to work.
So of course there’s a big fight, and I’m over here like, “How ‘bout y’all talk this through like healthy adults?!” But where’s the fun in that?
While Flynn appears to start to go in on the whole “Girlfriend, I don’t care what he did or didn’t do, I’m on your side and he’s a giant scumbag!” bandwagon, she course-corrects. Because self-actualized adults might make pretty silly communication mistakes because they haven’t been going to therapy, but they can recognize when they’ve made them. It helps when your friends are willing to be on your side but are also willing to call you on your bullshit.
Tangent – I love the BFF girlfriend power in smut because community is important in our lives, so it should also be important in romance, but what is the deal with heroines thinking their brand new, fledgling relationships should somehow be as trust-infused, strong, and robust as their friends’ relationships that have been developed and strengthened for years?
Flynn also seems to like the grand gesture, which is nice and all, but when the primary issue between protagonists is that they need to communicate, a grand gesture that doesn’t actually resolve the actual problems that led to the need for the grand gesture falls a bit flat.
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