“THE BIG GIRL’S GUIDE TO BUYING LINGERIE” BY AMIE STUART

The Big Girl’s Guide to Buying Lingerie | Bluebonnet Texas #4 | ISBN 9781517413804 | Dancehall Diaries, Ltd, 2015 | 4 out of 5 Points

“”Redneck Casanova”: After a disastrous marital near-miss Jade Ballard retreats to San Antonio, cutting herself off from the world in general and more specifically her family’s country club lifestyle, which she no longer wants any part of. She takes comfort in food and eventually, the safety of an internet love affair.

“Miss Snooty Pants”: Rowdy Yates is a semi-reformed womanizer who’s leery of long-term entanglements. Until Jade, he never seriously considered anything beyond a “Wife-For-A-Night.” After months of flirting on the internet the couple meets, only to discover they already know one another.

Rowdy has always mistaken Jade’s shy reserved nature for snobbishness, and Jade has always viewed the woman-loving Rowdy as a Redneck Casanova. But the months they spent getting to know one another formed an attraction neither can fight. Warning: This book contains cookie consumption, shopping, rants about bras, lost bras, stolen bras, a fake engagement, hawt sexy times, and a snooty plus-sized chick who falls hard for her Redneck Casanova.”

LUDOVICA’S REVIEW

Holy hell, do I love reading books about heroines who are plus-size/fat/chubby/whatever you call it and still are perceived and treated as the hottest thing to walk the earth since freshly microwaved hot pockets by the hero. “The Big Girl’s Guide to Buying Lingerie” promised just that, and damn, did it deliver. This is a book that made me feel good in my own plus-size skin, a book filled with my favorite tropes (‘You Got Mail’s famous ‘I’m in love with you on the internet but I hate you in real life’ trope, lovely misunderstandings and the great ‘We have to be in a relationship’ trope) and with characters and moments that damn near made me swoon. Mostly. But let’s talk about how great the characters are before we go into nitpicking mode.

THE PRINCESS AND THE COWBOY

When her wedding plans fall apart and her mother’s controlling nature becomes too much for Jade Ballard, she flees from her family and starts a new life for herself as a liquor sales rep, carefully rebuilding her shattered self-esteem piece by piece. She falls in love with a guy she met through a fan mailing list and who loves her favorite singer as much as she does, and one day decides to meet him in real life – only to find out that he is none other than Rowdy Yates, the provocative asshole who keeps bugging her whenever she visits the bar he works at. She can’t know, of course, that Rowdy only behaves like that to her because he feels like she looks down her nose at him and his Redneck ways, even though what he perceives as snobbism is just Jade’s crippling shyness.

And then, after Jade runs away in anger, thinking Rowdy had masterminded this all along, difficulties of the maternal sort happen, and Jade begs Rowdy to play her boyfriend for her mother’s sake.

Jade and Rowdy are two people with very strong personalities, well-defined understandings of who they are, and a whole ton of lovely little wounds from their life before they met each other that just beg to be poked unintentionally. And I was so happy when I read that Rowdy actually found Jade attractive even when he still thought she was a snob, because ‘real beauty is on the inside’ might be generally a very good and very true sentiment, but there are still times when you want to feel desirable even when you’re a big girl. Rowdy using his Redneck persona later to scandalize Jade’s mum and generally everybody at Jade’s mum’s country club just makes him even more lovable.

I also really, really liked Jade, not just because I empathized a lot with her. She has a lot of baggage and quite a number of emotional scars from growing up with her mother, but she decided to break out of her family’s stifling embrace and to change her life, even if it means that she’ll be all on her own. I admire this kind of courage a lot. She is insecure about her body, and she is still extremely shy, but she is getting more and more self-assured, and I think she would even have gotten there without Rowdy, though her romance with Rowdy does seem to help. I was so stoked for her when she got her comeuppance against her mum and her ex-fiancé, and this book might have one of my favorite scenes in all of romance history:

Mild spoiler ahead!

The plot of “The Big Girl’s Guide to Buying Lingerie” is pretty much a basic, trope-filled journey from ‘I hate you but I need you to help me (also you’re kinda hot)’ to ‘You fill out an emptiness in my heart that I denied existed for too long (also you’re hot as fuck)’, and it’s just really well-written and well-paced all over. The side-characters slash future or past heroes and heroines, obligatory for any romance series, are likable and not overbearing, and even though I don’t have any real desire to read the rest of the series (since the main attraction in this book was the plus-size heroine for me), the world of the small town which is the setting of this story feels realistic and well-defined.

By now you might ask yourself ‘But if the book was so good, why did you only give it 4 points?’

Well, I will tell you why.

Because of the horse scene. Because of the god damn horse scene.

THAT IS NOT HOW HORSES WORK OH MY GOD STOP PLEASE

There is a scene in this book where Jade and Rowdy have sex on a horse.

Just take a second to take that in.

It’s Rowdy’s biggest fantasy, apparently. The book claims that he does a lot of horseback riding, and that he basically grew up around horses, but if THAT is his biggest fantasy, I call bullshit. Especially with how the whole thing was executed.

Don’t get me wrong, I guess you can fuck on a horse. It might be very difficult, but I’ve seen people in equestrian vaulting who can stand on their horses on one foot while the horse is in gallop, and I’ve personally been lying on my back on horses in trot, so I guess there might be some way to figure it out – not that it’s likely going to be enjoyable for either the humans nor the horse, but it might be possible.

It’s just absolutely not possible if you do it like Jade and Rowdy do it.

A short disclaimer here: I’ve been riding horses since I was 4. I have never gotten very far with dressage or jumping, since I’ve basically stopped riding more than once a year when I was 10 (after an accident), but after that I still spent one to two weeks a year with my riding breeches glued to the saddle of various equine friends. I have done a bit of vaulting and watched a lot more, I have been on horses without saddles and I’ve watched friends of mine ride without tack. I fancy myself kind of well-informed in how horses work, how humans on horses work and what you can do to a horse before it throws you off and eats your shirt.

And as a person who has spent her fair share of time on horses, let me tell you: Horses just do not work the way they do in this book.

I know this is basically the pinnacle of nitpicking, but if you’ve read any of my other reviews, you know I’m the queen of nitpicking anyway, and this one absolutely horrible, ridiculous scene that kept my eyes glued to my kindle as if it was a pileup on my way to work is the one stain of ridiculous bullshit in an otherwise pretty much perfect book. And this scene has haunted me. For months. So all of you can now bear with me venting my spleen about this unrealistic, ridiculous, absolutely no good scene.

Let me describe what happens. I’m not going to put a spoiler here because honestly, you should be glad that I forewarn you, but I’m going to give you two space lines so you don’t have to look if you don’t want to.

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So Jade and Rowdy come to a horse enclosure where Rowdy’s horse already waits for them. They don’t have any saddle or any tack, only a blanket, even though this is going to be Jade’s first time on a horse, and even though with what they want to do, they could REALLY use those stirrups (riding horses without saddle is a personal pet peeve of mine, btw, because it’s shit for their backs, but that’s another topic for another day). Jade gets up on the horse, for the first time in her life, might I add, on sidesaddle, and Rowdy gets up behind her. Now, riding side saddle without a saddle is basically a trick bit you might learn to build trust between a rider and a horse, but believe me when I tell you, it is not something for beginners, especially when you have a blanket on the horse which is very likely going to slip quite a bit. And given that both Rowdy and Jade are on the horse (poor thing, that just can’t be good for her back), it’s likely Jade is sitting somewhere in the proximity of the horse’s shoulders. And then the horse starts walking. Even with Rowdy holding her, this is still very, very unlikely not to end with Jade slipping down.

And then Rowdy starts guiding his horse by the mane.

By the mane.

I know a lot of people look at a horse’s mane and are like ‘Oh, it’s like hair, I bet you could use that as a rein!’, but no. No, you cannot. The only thing your horse will do if you pull its mane is to throw up her neck and try to get the pull off, because that shit hurts, and the horse doesn’t even understand what way you want her to go. There are ways to lead a horse without tack, but her mane is not it. Just… no. No. And I don’t even want to know what exactly this Sunday rider is doing to the poor animal when the book says he ‘pulls her to a halt’. Ouch.

And then the sexy bit starts, and my eyes basically pop out of their sockets.

Rowdy tells Jade to turn around. He nudges the horse into a walk.

Then he pulls Jade’s legs over his own.

You have to understand, at this point Jade is lying on the meadow. There is no other way. The book says they are having sexy sex after this, but no, that has to be a fever dream of Jade or something, because when you have nothing but your butt on a horse, when your thighs are on another person’s thighs, when the horse is walking and its shoulders are moving right under your butt? You’re not on that horse for longer than two seconds. Unless you’ve had a lot of vaulting experience, maybe. But like I said – this is Jade’s FIRST time on a horse.

I just really think that the author never sat on a horse, especially once I read that Jade ‘leans back and props her hands up on Eve’s broad back’. There is no more back behind Jade. Horses are not benches. You cannot sit on every part of the horse. If there are two people on the horse, one is either sitting on the croup so the person in front can sit on the back, or one person is sitting basically on the horse’s shoulders. And I cannot imagine that Rowdy is sitting on the croup, first of all because then it would be even more impossible for Jade to put her thighs on his, and second because then he wouldn’t have any control of the horse. So if Jade is sitting on Eve’s shoulders, there just is no more back behind her. There is not. She is grasping at empty air. She is lying on the ground and having a fever dream, is what I’m telling you.

I’m going to leave it at that, because that was enough ranting for anybody. Oh, just one more thing: When Rowdy has his fingers in Jade, the horse hits an incline. While Rowdy’s fingers are in Jade. Not only is it absolutely impossible that Jade is still sitting on that horse, it is also pretty unlikely that she is still up for sex after that kind of experience. But of course, since this book doesn’t know that a horse is not a moving bench, it just makes her hotter. Figures.

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Now, one chapter does not a book make, and apart from this absolute abomination of a chapter, “The Big Girl’s Guide to Buying Lingerie” is really, really good. I loved the characters, I loved the plot and the tropes and the comedy, and yes, I did love the sex scenes. Apart from that one up there. Because that is a bad sex scene. Don’t write sex on horses when you do not know how horses work. Please. I beg you.

About Ludovica

Ludovica is a translator, writer and aspiring librarian, which is why she already practices getting as many books into her overflowing shelves as possible. She lives in the heart of the Alps, but dreams of a life in Canada.

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