From the BLURB:
Marketing exec Lucy Cunningham is thrilled when her firm lands The Palm Club account. The campaign concept for Miami's hottest fitness club was Lucy's idea: take one fitness-challenged woman, put her in front of TV cameras, and into the hands of the club's top personal trainer, Theo Redmond. And there's a big cash reward for each pound shed. It seems like a brilliant idea-until Lucy gets picked to be the guinea pig. It's obvious she needs to drop the pounds, but the idea of letting it all hang out in front of some Malibu Ken jock has her choking on her Milk Duds before she even begins!
After one meeting, Theo knows Lucy will be his toughest client and one of the most unforgettable women he'll ever meet. Smart-mouthed and stubborn, it's clear she isn't fond of marching to anyone's drumbeat but her own. But she shocks Theo by rising to the challenge like a pro. And he finds his heart in jeopardy long before Lucy starts to slim down and turn heads.
As Lucy sweats her way into a whole new life, things start to heat up between her and Theo. But trust doesn't come easy for either of them. They've both been burned by romance in the past. Now Lucy and Theo are about to discover that appearances can be deceiving-and in the end, true love lies somewhere between pizza and Pilates...
I was a little reluctant to read this one. I thought it would be a typical ‘She’s All That’ story in which everything is put to rights once the heroine is turned into a hottie. I was worried that it would be a story of skin-deep emotions; that only once the transformation was complete would the hero see fit to fall in love with the (now glamorous) protagonist. Thankfully, Donovan is a better chick-lit author than that. And what saves this story are the characters – they're complex and vulnerable and utterly believable.
When we meet her, Lucy is a size 22 and has sixty-nine percent body fat.
Lucy is funny – but she seems aware of the fact that she uses humor as armor, her own personal schtick as ‘that fat, but funny girl’. She is very self-conscious of her weight and humiliated at being coached by super hunky, Theo Redmond – to the point where she doesn’t want him touching her under-arms when she lifts weights. That’s the best thing about this feel-good novel; it’s funny, but relatable. And Lucy is a fantastic leading lady – Donovan documents her struggles with a light and humorous touch that also turns deep and introspective.
Theo Redmond is a great leading man for Lucy. At first I rolled my eyes at having a physical-trainer for a romance hero. The idea just didn’t appeal to me. Probably because I did the same thing as Lucy in the beginning of the book – I had all personal trainers pegged as ego-inflated gym bunnies. This isn’t the case with Theo. He’s actually a very engaging and enigmatic character. He works two part-time jobs on top of his stint as personal trainer in order to support himself and his mentally disabled brother, Buddy. Theo’s parents died a few of years ago, putting Buddy in Theo’s sole custody and forcing Theo to quit his medical internship to support his brother. When we meet him, Theo is gearing up to re-take his entrance exam and finally realize his dream of becoming a physical therapist – never mind that he’s now 32. As well as battling professional hardships, Theo is still nursing a broken heart two years after his ex, Jenna, left him for an older man. Theo was wonderful and my heart went out to him and his struggles. I especially liked him because he treated Lucy so well. Both Theo and Lucy are reluctant to lose their hearts, which means their romance is a slow build-up, which sees them getting to know each other first. And Theo does get to know Lucy, and fall for her personality before she even reaches her weight goal.
She held her head high. Her elegant arms and hands hung to her sides, and he could see the very feminine curve of her hips, the indentation of her waist, the swell of her breasts. He saw a little bit of her belly peeking through the tankini, and it was round and full and female.
Seeing her like this almost made him wish they didn’t have to keep pushing for her to lose more weight. She looked perfect to him just as she was.
The one cop-out of the book is probably the trauma that caused Lucy to gain weight to the point of obesity in the first place. A lot hinges on a certain hurtful event in Lucy’s past that triggered her over-eating and claimed her self-esteem. It’s a pretty awful story and would be a knock to anyone’s ego. I’m sure lots of people who struggle with their weight can trace the beginning of that struggle to an incident in their past, and I’m sure a good majority of those incidents are to do with bullying. But Lucy’s personal ordeal is set on a grand-scale and a little too unbelievable. I think the story could have worked just as well if Donovan had made the event a little more relatable and common place.
I really liked this book. I was in the mood for some thoroughly feel-good chick lit and ‘He Loves Lucy’ checked all the boxes, and then some. I will definitely be reading more of Ms. Donovan’s work because I was so impressed with this book.