There is nothing like a good book boyfriend after a long stressful weekend that leaves you sick, sore and sorry that your bounce back ability isn’t what it used to be. I feel every day of my age right now and I need a hunky hero to swoon over to self medicate with and Nate West is this week’s best of the best.
Alessandra Thomas’s first book in her Picturing Perfect series, Picture Perfect, deals with the touchy subject of body image and body dysmorphic disorder. Cat Mitchell was sexy, skinny and modelled clothes that made her feel beautiful before an accident eight months earlier left her with such a severely broken leg that even with surgery and physical therapy made it impossible for her to get back the body she had always known. Having gained sixty pounds and four sizes she feels like a stranger in her new body, her confidence is tanked and humiliated by how she feels she is now seen in the eyes of others, she doesn’t want to be seen by anyone–much worse, look at herself. Enter childhood summer camp pal and former chubby sixth grade seven minutes in heaven kiss mate, Nate West.
Nathaniel, the fat boy who was ridiculed and picked on for his weight as a kid is barely recognizable under the muscles and height of the hottie she meets when she poses as a nude model in his drawing class in an attempt to face her inner demons. When she loses the nerve to complete posing for the entire time of the class and barely makes it further than the steps of the art building Nate finds a despondent Cat, who he has recognized yet, and invites her out to eat where they discover their past connection.
This book may drive you crazy with the repetitiveness of Cat’s inner dialogue regarding her insecurity and her self loathing, but it really is how someone with this disorder and with anyone with any anxiety disorder would think and see or feel about themselves. Nate is a very supportive and patient boyfriend who works on distracting her in positive ways rather than giving her other things to make her feel even worse about herself. He is always offering her ways to empower herself. When she thinks she is weak and ugly, he takes her to a gym where she can try a climbing wall as a challenge so she has a physical obstacle to overcome as a symbol of her own strength. Since her weight is an issue he makes the act of eating something they could explore and enjoy together. And in the face of her fear of intimacy with her new body he shows her the beauty of every curve he loves. All the while he allows her the modesty she needs to feel until she trusts him enough to bare it all.
I loved how Alessandra Thomas pulled no punches with this book. There was a great deal of psychology at work here not only in the dealings of Cat and her issues but also in the relationship between Nate and Cat because she made it clear in several parts of the book the importance of being able to stand on your own feet and owning yourself. Nate is a great book boyfriend and even though he hasn’t always been the most upstanding guy and he has a shady past with some really horrible mistakes which he doesn’t disclose up front that muddies his relationship he does all the good boyfriend things. He doesn’t alienate her from her friends. He is supporting of her in her chosen career aspirations. Nate lives by a rather high standard of honor and he treats everyone according to that standard. Nate doesn’t cause scenes or act rashly. He doesn’t make moves on an intoxicated girl. He doesn’t do hook-ups on the first night. He doesn’t treat his mom badly and he doesn’t treat his girl badly. He’s a stand up guy. Even if all of these good guy things are things he has learned to do the hard way. But isn’t that what makes a Book Boyfriend the best kind? A reformed bad boy who gets it right at some point is worth a million medium hot ones who flub it perpetually.
I have to give him a shout out for being a NEPA native too. Hometown-ish fellows, you and I nate. Mohegan Sun Casino really is an exotic flower in the Wyoming Valley.
Alessandra Thomas can be found snug as a bug in a rug on her website, on Goodreads, Amazon Author Pages, Twitter and Facebook. She has two other titles in the Picturing Perfect series: Subject to Change and Drop Everything Now. I loved Picture Perfect and recommend the series.
For more information about Body Dysmorphic Disorder check out the ADAA website. There is a lot of great information and a search in case you are someone who is suffering from some form of body image issue that you would like to seek counselling for. It doesn’t need to be as serious as an eating disorder for you to look for someone to speak with, sometimes getting even the smallest insecurity that is plaguing you off your chest liberates you to do things you wouldn’t have otherwise. Help is always near; strength isn’t how long you last, it’s how you fight and win.
And apologies for the run-on and compound sentences chock-a-block in this blog post. I’m claiming hangover.
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