Personal trainer Rebecca McCall is furious when she’s forced to teach a “Be Your Best Bride” workout class after her coworker comes down with a case of Mono. From the beginning, Rebecca never liked the class because it promoted body image way too much. In addition, a lot of the women who take it are preening, giggling Bridezillas. It’s more than enough to make Rebecca pull her hair out in frustration if it wasn’t for one bright spot in the class. Spencer Thompson.
After making the worst mistake of her life years ago, Spencer has decided to leave all the decision making to others. So, when her fiancée, Marti, signs her up for the BYBB Class at the gym – without asking Spencer first – Spencer goes along with it. After all, she’s always felt a little bit too curvy and this class would probably help…at least that’s how Spencer justifies Marti’s actions. From the first day, Rebecca has a dislike for Spencer, leaving the poor woman wondering what she did to make Rebecca angry with her.
As the class progresses, Spencer finds her courage to confront Rebecca about her attitude towards her. Rebecca suddenly sees Spencer in a whole new light, making their dynamic transition from hostile, to friendly, to flirty. Both women know they’re playing with fire with Spencer engaged, but they can’t help but be drawn to each other. After an incident with a smoothie leads to a smoldering kiss, Spencer is challenged to make another decision that could lead her to a love she has never experienced.
Will Spencer find the courage to change her life? Or will she bury her desire for what she believes is right?
Anna: Rebecca is not the typical tough-as-nails trainer I expect to find in a gym. She is very much of the mindset that exercise should be fun; otherwise, people don’t want to do it and end up quitting. When she’s given the “Be Your Best Bride” workout class, she’s upset because she knows how the class is designed – it focuses on body image and not body health. Once she makes the class her own, she finds that she does like it and has made it fun for herself and all the participants. Well, everyone except Spencer. Rebecca notices Spencer right away, but it’s not because of her physical appearance. She sees Spencer as someone who is weak and surrenders too easily. It’s a very touchy spot with Rebecca because she watched her own mother surrender her decisions to her father for many years. While they may get off to a rocky start, Rebecca soon discovers a fire inside of Spencer. And she knows if she gets to close, she will get burned.
Spencer is a very giving person to the point where other people’s happiness exceeds her own. It allows her to be taken advantage of. It’s not that she doesn’t want to make decisions. But after a terrible, and publicly humiliating, breakup, Spencer just finds it easier to go with the flow and allow others to steer her life in the direction they feel is best. Yet, Spencer is constantly questioning herself and her relationship with her fiancée. While these questions don’t cause her to become attracted to Rebecca, they do lead her to have dangerous thoughts about the gorgeous trainer.
Both women have the strongest moral compass I have ever seen and fight against their attraction. But as Beers shows us, fighting something so strong can lead to an explosion that will leave both women questioning their actions and their circumstances.
Tara: I can’t say I’m shocked that I liked Spencer and Rebecca, because I usually enjoy Georgia Beers’s leading ladies. What did surprise me, however, was how much I liked them. They’re both relatable and real, exactly the kind of people I’d want to hang out with.
Spencer has a richer character arc than Rebecca and that works great, since Spencer isn’t happy or confident when she starts the book and Rebecca’s in a more stable place. While we may not like or agree with what Spencer does, it’s all part of her growth, helping her become someone who is better by the end of it, and not just to make her more suited for Rebecca.
The Writing Style
Anna: I love when a writer challenges my perception of a specific topic, and Beers does it beautifully in this book. She’s very particular in how she approaches the subject of infidelity, and it’s done in a such a smart way that it allowed me to appreciate the struggle Rebecca and Spencer face as their attraction grows. After they act on their desire, Beers shows us the self-confrontation Rebecca and Spencer must endure. She makes the characters ask those all-important, difficult questions people usually avoid. Each woman holds a mirror up to their psyche and takes ownership of what they did and how it effects everyone in their lives, especially Spencer’s fiancée. Without these details, Rebecca and Spencer’s future could have become a casualty of another torrid affair that shouldn’t have been pursued. Instead, we are able to empathize with their situation and want them to succeed in finding their happy ending.
Tara: Much like Flinging It by G. Benson, I appreciate that Beers delivers a nuanced approach to a cheating story. There are no heroes or villains here, just people who are trying to do their best even when they know they’re missing the mark. The romance between Spencer and Rebecca is developed well and thoughtfully, with an excellent push and pull as they fight things like preconceived notions, mutual attraction and the rapport that builds almost against their wills. The ending makes sense and is satisfying, feeling like the most natural conclusion after everything Spencer and Rebecca had been through.
Tara: In my review for Landing Zone by Erin Dutton, I talked about how Lori Prince has been growing on me as a narrator. Her performance of The Shape of You is hands down my favourite so far. She differentiated the characters well, she brought Rebecca and Spencer’s attraction to life, and she made me feel every bit of their anguish. Prince absolutely crushed it! I highly recommend listening to this book because she did a phenomenal job.
Anna: I really liked how Beers showed us that Rebecca and Spencer had similar interests, yet she never has either woman reveal it to the other. I feel that was a smart decision because if they reveal those interests to each other, it could lead to a more serious affair and damage their entire relationship. By highlighting their interests separately, it shows that the two women are compatible if they decide to start a relationship the proper way should the status quo change.
Tara: Everything about The Shape of You worked for me. Excellent characters, amazing chemistry, a romance I was cheering for even (or especially?) when I probably shouldn’t have been, and a thoughtful approach to a difficult subject.
Anna: There is infidelity in this story. I have my own struggles with this specific topic. However, I do understand that it’s not always a black & white situation. It’s complicated and messy. And when an author approaches the situation the way Beers does, it warrants our attention and appreciation on this delicate subject.
Tara: I mean, it’s a cheating book. So if that’s on your never-buy list, you probably won’t want to pick this one up. It’s excellent and I loved it, but it is what it is.
Anna: Stories involving infidelity usually make readers hesitate, and rightly so. But I put my trust in Beers, and I was not disappointed. I urge you to pick up this book, and hopefully you will get a better understanding of just how complicated the heart can be when moments of weakness happen, and hard decisions must be made.
Tara: If you can get past the premise, I highly recommend you pick up The Shape of You. Hell, I recommend it regardless—I just know that it won’t be for everyone. Georgia Beers delivered an excellent story with memorable characters and it’s well worth your time.
Excerpt from The Shape of You by Georgia Beers
BodyFit wasn’t busy at all, only a small handful of people milling around the equipment, mostly muscular men lifting the free weights, diehard bodybuilders. Spencer watched one guy curl a dumbbell that was bigger than her head. Not for the first time, she was amazed by how strong men were.
As Spencer slowly got herself to her feet, she saw Rebecca and the guy named Phil coming down the stairs, chatting away. Rebecca led him to the nearby area that had long straps with handles on the ends fastened to the wall. He must have said something funny because Rebecca laughed. Not a fake laugh. Not a polite laugh. A full-on laugh. It was fun and contagious enough to make Spencer smile at the sound.
“Not at all,” Rebecca said. “We’re going to challenge you, yes. But this will be fun.” She stressed the word, put a hand on Phil’s shoulder. “Working out should be hard, but not stressful. Not something you dread. I want you to enjoy it. Okay?”
Spencer simply blinked at the words. At the relaxed approachable expression on Rebecca’s face. It was one she hadn’t before. The encouraging words were ones she hadn’t heard before. And she found herself annoyingly jealous of Phil.
Feeling her anger beginning to simmer, Spencer made a face as she wiped down her mat and put it away. Without looking at Rebecca again, she stalked into the locker room.
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781635552176
- Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
- Audiobook Publisher: Bold Strokes Books Inc
- Narrator: Lori Prince
Georgia Beers Online
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