Whenever I read a book in which the heroine is perfectly beautiful and slim yet
curvy yet can pack away a bacon double cheeseburger, I sigh a little. Yes, yes,
there are many beautiful people with hummingbird-like metabolisms, but Iâ€™m not
one of them.
I like reading about a person who has some of the same wee insecurities I do.
Positive self-esteem can be a daily battle. Some days, I look in the mirror and
roll my eyes. Some days, I think, â€śNot so bad, Higgins!â€ť But I can guarantee you
Iâ€™ve never thought, â€śDamn! I am perfectly beautiful, slim yet curvy and maybe
Iâ€™ll get a vanilla shake with that bacon double cheeseburger!â€ť
In two of the thirteen books Iâ€™ve written, my heroines were perfectly
beautifulâ€”Harper from MY ONE
AND ONLY, and Parker from SOMEBODY TO LOVE. But
Harper had reason to despise her looks; sheâ€™s the image of her mother, who
abandoned her. Parker is looking at forty and realizing those looks she took for
granted arenâ€™t quite what they used to be.
Emmaline Neal, the heroine of IN YOUR DREAMS, is the more
normal sort. Sheâ€™s fine with her looks and shape, more or less. She runs and
takes the occasional kickboxing class. But she also eats Pepperidge Farm Coconut
Cake and may as well be a shareholder in Ben & Jerryâ€™s. Her hair is
difficult, and she has no fashion sense. None of that matters to her, not too
muchâ€¦until sheâ€™s invited to the wedding of her ex-fiancĂ© and his personal
trainer. Both are fitness junkies. Both are perfectly beautiful specimens with
lightly tanned skin and rippling abs and beautifully defined deltoids. Both have
judged her harshly and found her wanting in the looks departmentâ€¦especially
where the scale is concerned.
But it wasnâ€™t always so. Kevin, Emmalineâ€™s ex, was once obese.
Emmaline met him in junior high school, where they were both outcasts. Kevin,
who was always overweight, kept piling on the pounds over the years. It didnâ€™t
matter to Em; she loved him for his sweet and kind heart and gentle sense of
humor. But as the years passed, obviously was Emâ€™s concerned. Morbidly obese has
the word morbid in it for a reasonâ€”it can be a fatal condition, rife with health
issues. And so she asks him, gently, kindly, to become healthier so their life
together can be long and happy.
Itâ€™s the beginning of the end of their relationship. Women arenâ€™t the only ones
who struggle with body image problems. As Kevinâ€™s fat melts away, so do all the
things Emmaline loved about him. And now, three years later, sheâ€™s going to his
wedding. Her date is Jack Holland, everyoneâ€™s go-to man in times of dating
desperation. Jackâ€™s practically a cottage industry in town; with three sisters,
he well understands the female heart and doesnâ€™t mind stepping in to escort
women in times of need.
The fact that Jack is gorgeousâ€”Em thinks of him as a Greek god, and I kind of
pictured Paul Walkerâ€”is actually a problem for Emmaline. After all, she has
reason to mistrust the Beautiful People. Jackâ€™s never seemed interested in her
before, heâ€™s got some tough issues to face these days, and besides that, his
super-pretty ex-wife is back in town, hoping for a reunion. If he never found Em
attractive before, why would he now? Is she just a distraction?
There are a lot of books out there about looking past a personâ€™s external
appearance. Itâ€™s one of the beloved tropes of romance novelsâ€”the Cinderella
effect, if you will, the shy woman who, with the right haircut and clothes, is
suddenly beautiful. IN YOUR
DREAMS is about getting past looks in a few waysâ€”Kevinâ€™s transformation and
subsequent personality change; Jackâ€™s stellar good looks; and Emmaline learning
that her hard-won self esteem is well worth the battle.
After all, every romance reader knows that real love is all about honor,
kindness, and doing the right thing. How much you weigh isnâ€™t part of the equation.
5 comments posted.
I have read so many of your books and vwey anxious to read this one too. Your depiction of characters as real people with real faults and strengths is what I love the most about them. From "The Best Man", to " Catch of the Day"/ to "Too Good to be True" Have read them all and love them all! Texastee.
(Theresa Henry 2:20pm October 3, 2014)