Author: N.R. Walker
Publisher: Blueheart Press
Genre: MM Contemporary
Summary: After being dumped by his long-term boyfriend for being overweight, Henry Beckett decides to make some drastic changes. In a vain attempt at getting his boyfriend back, Henry does the most absurdly frightening thing he can think of.
He joins a gym.
Reed Henske is a personal trainer who isn’t sure he’ll ever be ready to date again. He’s sick of guys who are only interested in the perfect body image, never seeing him for who he really is.
As Reed tortures Henry with things like diet and exercise, Henry enamours Reed with recipes and laughter. As the friendship lines start to blur, Henry is convinced there’s no way Thor-like Reed could ever be interested in a guy like him.
Reed just has to convince Henry that life isn’t about reaching your ideal bodyweight. It’s about finding your perfect counterweight.
Review: Just perfect. Let’s put it out there – Henry Beckett is my spirit animal. That man’s snark, inner beyotch and worldview not only made me nod and think, “yes, SIR!” but also, repeatedly and sometimes embarrassingly, laugh out loud. I even went so far as to read the book again about a week later, thinking there was no way he was as funny as I thought it was. But yes, he was. So obviously this is a character that resonated so strongly for me.
Henry has been dumped by his partner of eight years, Graham, with some seriously cruel words. “He didn’t want to spend his life with an overweight old man. I wasn’t fun anymore. I didn’t look after myself anymore. I wasn’t what he wanted.” That was the moment Henry’s life changed, for the worse he thought but of course, life has other plans. Henry decides he “..didn’t want to be the overweight drunk guy crying in my bathroom ever again” so he joins a gym and gets a personal trainer. Said trainer is gorgeous, fit, supportive and really sweet. Reed. Reed is all about it, going to make goals, get a workout plan and a diet plan. And he’s there for Henry when the numbers on the scale make Henry’s skin crawl. “I was speechless and horrified and embarrassed.” That is such a real feeling. “I had no witty comeback. I had nothing funny to say.” That moment isn’t funny, Henry, but you’re on the way to changing it. When he goes home, cries and eats all the cheesecake in the fridge, I got it.
I have to say, Henry’s “dying” at the gym was all too familiar as well. The aftermath, muscle soreness that caused him to “…walk like I wore razor wire underwear.” Yep, been there. The story is about Henry and his path to making his health and body better, but it is also about he and Reed becoming friends, then dates, then lovers. Reed is a gentle, good person who knows what it’s like to be on the losing side of a boyfriend battle and knows that the inside of a person far surpasses the outside.
Because Henry tends to verbally eject random thoughts, Graham had him not talk to people at work. This is something else he had to conquer – learning to be social with the people in his life. It was lovely to see him open up, because of course he doesn’t do it smoothly or flawlessly. Although he does find another awkward soul at work so that was a bonus. He has the most amazing friend in Anika and another in her boyfriend, Sean (and yes, the pegging comment had me laughing as well).
Henry’s acceptance of his worth doesn’t come in a day or a week. Even when he’s pretty convinced Reed is it for him and he’s it for Reed, that self-doubt and lack of confidence rears its ugly head and nearly ruins everything. “You’re a Disney prince and I’m Shrek.” Typical Henry.
The only real nitpick I had with the story was how fast the relationship between Henry and Reed progressed. But I was able to accept it because while Henry mourns the loss of his eight-year relationship with Graham, he is also self-aware enough to come to the realization that “I was happy just knowing he was a constant thing, but we didn’t have a relationship. We had a mutually agreeable companionship.” That seemed so real to me and something that wouldn’t necessarily make Reed a rebound.
I should mention, I rarely give 5 Hearts to things, just because I save that for books I completely adored and will reread over and over. I know 65 Hours, by this same author, was one of those rare 5’s. So I shouldn’t have been surprised that I loved this one so much. I so recommend this for the humor, for the snark and for the joy that is Reed and Henry. I adored it.