A round and sassy baker chases love and (weight) loss in Stuart’s (State and Local Government Workers’ Retirement Savings Guide, 2002, etc.) rom-com.
Hannah More has a thriving cookie business, a son she adores, and an attractive boyfriend. Unfortunately, her boyfriend is a jerk, and her love of cookies may have led to an extra 35 pounds. In an effort to placate her shallow lover, Hannah joins a sadistic “health and fitness experience” (otherwise known as a very expensive gym) called Ultimate Level. Members are segregated into classes by weight and ability and forbidden to fraternize with those in different fitness levels. Though Hannah initially signs up only to support her friend Levreece Monroe, she soon drinks the Kool-Aid. In addition to solid weight-loss results, Hannah finds herself being wined and dined by two different members of Ultimate Level—wealthy, scrappy LA realtor Phineas Alto and handsome Brendan Daniels, who has already risen to Level Three. Both relationships are fraught with difficulty and potential red flags, and Hannah relies on a quirky network of friends to help her lock down love and stay on her weight-loss track. Stuart’s novel is a light confection starring a relatable, likable heroine. While details of Hannah’s life may read more like a fantasy novel (few women choose from among three successful and attractive men, and even fewer can afford a $500 a month gym membership), her struggles with weight, love, and a comfortable work-home balance are familiar. And Stuart’s nightmare gym creation, Ultimate Level, provides an amusing backdrop. While the teeny tiny designer workout clothing, ridiculous classes, and degrading caste system seem far-fetched, in our modern world of fitness trackers and an abundance of athletic-wear options, perhaps they’re not so outlandish. The novel wraps up neatly, though Hannah’s path to self-discovery would have been just as satisfying without a man to top it off.
A fairy tale with a thoroughly modern heroine who tackles problems with grit.