Thank You to She Writes Press for providing me with an advanced copy of Cathryn Novak's novel, Size Matters, in exchange for an honest review.
PLOT - John Frederick is a recluse, who hides in his mansion, and has debilitating love for food. Lexie Alexander, a young chef, who uses cooking as a way to heal her loneliness, has been hired as John's personal chef. She will live in his mansion, make all of his meals, but she will never see him. Their only communication will be through the food she makes and the handwritten notes that he leaves her regarding his meals. Soon, through the bond of food, John decides that he can trust Lexie and meets her. Incredibly self-conscious about his obesity and food obsession, he quickly realizes that Lexie is not only kind, but that they have another thing in common, their mutual love of Broadway musicals! Lexie and John build a fast friendship that is threatened when John has a heart attack and must go on a strict diet. Can John learn that his relationship with food is less important than his relationship with people?
LIKE- Novak's story reminded me of the fairytale, Beauty and the Beast. I'm not saying that physically John is a beast because of his obesity, but that the story mirrors the fairytale in themes. Like the beast, John is reclusive and terrified of the potential judgement of others. Although Lexie is certainly not a captive in his mansion, she, like Belle, is living in a strange place, she is curious and trying to figure out the secrets of her employer. Like Belle, Lexie is sweet and kind, John quickly realizes this, and as soon as he feels like he is in a safe place around her, he wants to do nice things for her. Although John and Lexie don't have a romance, they do have a quick friendship that is reminiscent of the fairytale.
I like the unexpected inclusion of musicals, especially the scene where John delights himself and Lexie, by throwing an elaborate dinner themed to, The King and I. The joy was seeing John come out of his shell. John is often hard-headed and petulant, so the moments where he seemed happy, were when the story dazzled.
DISLIKE- On a whole, I found Size Matters, to be odd and requiring a heavy suspension of disbelief. Perhaps part of the problem was that the story was too short and I didn't feel that I had the appropriate time to logically build the arc of the story. I needed more character building and perhaps another plot line, to flesh it out and render it more believable.
Size Matters is narrated in a close third perspective, often quickly jumping between Lexie and John, which was occasionally confusing. More than once, I had paused to try to understand the narrative, which ripped me out of the story world.
I think the biggest problem was the lack of connection between Lexie and John. I liked them as individuals, but I didn't buy into them having a deep friendship. It seemed one sided, like John had a crush on Lexie, and Lexie thought John was nice enough, but was really reacting in a way that shows she's a nice person and he's her employer. The chemistry was lacking.
RECOMMEND- No. Size Matters has an intriguing premise, but it's too problematic to recommend. I admired Novak's creativity and would seek out future books by her, but this one, I cannot recommend.