But when some random guy suggests I might not be eating alone if I’d ordered a salad instead of a hamburger I’m shocked silent, which is a feat, trust me.
That brings us to one sexy fireman named Frankie Hartigan. He’s hot. He’s funny… And he’s just apologized for being late for our “date” then glared at the fat-shaming jerk. Next thing I know, he’s sitting down and ordering himself dinner.
I have no problem telling him I don’t need a pity date…unless of course it’s to my high school reunion next week. Oops where did that last bit come from? And what do I do now that he’s said yes?!
Because this is no make-over story, and I think Frankie is using me for something. I just have to figure out what…
I actually read this book a few weeks ago, so bear with me if I mess things up. However, it’s stayed with me, and this book is the reason why I read a number of Avery Flynn’s other backlist titles. These Hartigans though – there’s something about them. However [November’s] challenge prompt was “cover love” and! While this isn’t one of those immediately eye catching covers, or eye poppingly (bad) ones … what I love about it is its simplicity, and the fact that there actually is a plus sized woman on the cover. I know we’ve all talked about problems where the models on a book cover are nothing like the characters in the book. And before authors start running in here with “well actually” … yes I also realize authors have varying levels of control in [traditionally] published books. With all that out of the way … I think this is a really great contemporary romance! Onward!
Lucy Kavanagh is quite the heroine. (I have to say I kinda was like “thank god her surname wasn’t Kavanaugh because just with this current timeline… it’s a lot.” YMMV there, of course.) She’s I want to say around a size 20, and that’s possibly something to put her firmly in “team plus sized” as opposed to the heroines who are a size 8 or so that used to be labeled plus sized. (I’m also realizing all over again the land mines of “plus sized heroines.”) Here’s the thing – we don’t want fat shaming. Of course. Of course. We also (do? should? need to?) realize healthy lifestyles etc etc. However, obviously Lucy is aware of those things. Image has also been front and center in her life because her mother was an underwear model. No joke. (Her mother was a bit of a static villain but … also people are shitty, so I had no issues there.) I’m sure Lucy would love to be a size 0, but the point is she knows her size and accepts it and has been working for quite some time to love herself as she is. I don’t think those are zero sum mindsets. She’s also badass and brassy, and has developed a very thick skin. Her defense mechanism is also to be self-deprecating, and attack first. She’s unparalleled in her job of damage control, but self-esteem and how we view ourselves is often so very difficult. I think Ms. Flynn does an excellent job here.
What I loved about Muffin Top is that it’s a book where Lucy experiences personal growth, but it isn’t a makeover book. I think we’ve all read those books where the heroine starts out plus sized, and it’s a [secret] makeover book, and it leaves a bad tasted in your mouth when you finish. (Even when the hero is all “I loved you at any size” but it’s just so convenient that she’s lost ~80 lbs.)
Francis Hartigan – who goes by Frankie – is a man whore. He’s 33. (Which, sidenote, I have some issues with timelines here because this book takes place after The Charmer, where the premise is Felicia is about to turn 30… and she’s the youngest of seven … but somehow Frankie is only 33 in his book? What is time even?! …) I actually had more of an issue here – wherein something (thought) he saw when he was 18 really affected his life. On the one hand, I get it. On the other …. are you fucking kidding me? Get over your fucking self and man up, you idiot. You make your own choices. I’m trying to avoid spoilers here …. so I know that sounds extreme. But really. (And I’d be happy to discuss in the comments if so desired.) Anyway, he’s actually a really great guy. Just – not if you want more than a sexual relationship with him. (Which, it seems he never really hooked up with anyone more than twice? So … ) He realizes everyone thinks he has no substance when he tries to revisit a hookup. He’s extremely protective of his family and friends, is dependable and a workaholic, and has a great sense of humor. He’s your classic good time guy. And to be honest? I liked that he was who he was. He’s a guy who is only interested in a hookup – in both him and his partner having a really good time that night – he’s never been deceptive about it – and you know what? That’s perfectly fair and fine.
The two of them are so perfect for each other, and so imperfect in general. (Seriously Frankie, omfg.) And then for Lucy … I think the real point is she tells the whole world she’s a-ok with herself and her size, and loves herself … but she doesn’t really. (The world is seriously unkind to fat people. We all know this.) Also … it’s hard to explain. She’s kind of an asshole when it comes to Frankie and their relationship. She’s determinedly keeping them in the “friends with benefits” category. (Which really made me think of that HoNY post, about the couple that had been hooking up but then had been together for years – and it was the girl, embarrassed, trying to explain things then punting to her boyfriend. Remember that?) Frankie realizes he’s actually really into Lucy pretty early on. His whole “sex diet” thing was basically a non-starter … and it isn’t “because she’s the only woman he’s been around.” The classic misunderstanding happens – wherein he doesn’t want to rock the boat, so he says nothing about emotions … which makes Lucy double down on her thought that this is all sex.
I’m explaining this badly, because I’m not making it sound very good. Both characters have a lot of issues. I have slightly less sympathy for Frankie’s … but Lucy – Lucy’s I really get, in general, but also because of how things happened. It’s mentioned in the book almost as a throwaway comment, but awful shit her mom said has stayed with her her entire life, and that’s so heartbreaking.
Really! The two have a lot of fun – they get to know each other, and find their personalities really mesh. They like and respect each other, have amazing chemistry, and are both established in their lives. Their social circles also overlap. (Which is yet another issue, because Lucy is all “why haven’t you ever approached me before then?” – and hello it’s because Frankie “had no substance” before! This is a huge wakeup call for him.) The things with Lucy and her dad – I … have a slight issue with how clueless her dad is? It’s really sweet and sad and poignant, the moment they have before she leaves but … ( really – how could her dad be so clueless?). Then there are the scenes from her high school reunion. There was a twist that I didn’t see coming, and really enjoyed.
I literally laughed out loud a few times when reading this book – in fact the humor and snappy comebacks were what drew me in from the start. There was also a scene with applause – which … you have to read. It’ll bring a smile to your face, and is a great “inside joke.”
One quick note – I had a slight issue with all the Mountain Dew. I low key tried to unpack where those issues were “just me” or not – and I think it’s a mix of both. I chuckled a bit because someone on Amazon gave the book 1 star and DNF’d it because Lucy drinks Mountain Dew. (It is a lot. As in both she literally drinks a lot, and this is a thing that’s a bit over the top/too much.) However. … one thing I loved about the book is that Lucy is who she is. She’s plus sized and this book has nothing to do with a makeover. Frankie loves her as is. It’s not because of, or in spite of her size. (I mean, he loves her curves and that she’s stacked for dayyysss – but if she wasn’t? He’d still love her.) And there’s that little scene where Frankie is surrounded by empty cans he drank and growls at his twin and it’s adorable.
There are so many delightful scenes, a lot of great humor, character growth, and sizzling chemistry. Seriously – they’re hot for each other, and this is a wonderful sexy contemporary romance. If you like contemporaries, and especially if you enjoy reading positive books with plus sized heroines, I cannot recommend Muffin Top enough. I’ve already read The Charmer (which I really enjoyed and have already re-read), cannot wait for Tomboy … and have Butterface in my TBR. (I’ve also read two other Avery Flynn books too.) While there are some issues with the book, I know everyone will view those differently, and I think I covered all of mine here (extensively) – so yes, I do recommend this book, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be re-reading it.
You can buy a copy here.