The Fastest Way to Fall by Denise Williams
Britta, a writer for a lifestyle website, has been assigned to review the body-positive FitMi Fitness app that includes anonymous personal training services. Wes, the co-founder and CEO of FitMi, is struggling with feeling unfulfilled and decides to get back into coaching, what he really loves to do. His first client, coincidentally, is Britta, and they click immediately, engaging in funny, light-hearted back-and-forth banter through the app’s messaging function in between workouts and nutrition tips. Their feelings continue to grow, despite the ethical quagmire of a trainer-client relationship and even as each keeps their identity secret from the other.
The greatest strength of this contemporary romance is how author Williams wrote Britta’s relationship with her body and exercise as a proudly fat woman. While fat characters deserve more inclusion in romance, point-blank period, I particularly enjoyed that Britta’s relationship with her body isn’t dominated by insecurity and doubt. She’s honest about the ups and downs she’s had - and continues to have - with her body, but overall this book celebrates feeling good in the body you have. I call that a win. The book also touches on toxic exercise culture and female workplace rivalry through a coworker of Britta’s who is reviewing a different, very problematic fitness app and with whom Britta is competing for a promotion. Wes and Britta are great both as individual characters and together. However, I wasn’t a fan of Williams’ decision to have both characters withhold their identity from the other for nearly the entire book. It seems unnecessary given that the ethical dubiousness of the situation (trainer/client relationship, she’s reviewing his company for an article) could have provided plenty of fodder for the story’s main conflict. I’m not convinced that either Britta or Wes had a particularly compelling reason for withholding such important information for so long. To make up for it, though, readers are treated to delicious steam and a swoony grand gesture from Wes. Overall, I liked this romance, and I’ll be reading more of Williams’ books.
Goes well with:
Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade is an excellent companion novel. It’s also a sweet and sexy love story with great characters who first “meet” anonymously and features a fat heroine who loves her body, even when other people don’t. These two books also share the keeping-your-identity-a-secret-from-your-partner trope as a key driver of tension/conflict, and the stakes are even higher in Spoiler Alert. If you enjoy the secret identity trope, these books are for you.