A Willful Woman…

Thoughts about books from a romance addict.

The Fastest Way to Fall by Denise Williams

on December 2, 2021

#SnowInLoveBingo square: “Holding Hands”

CN for book: drug addiction, slurs about the main character’s weight, discussion of eating disorders

Some people like to plan their bingo boards out ahead of time. Me, I love the synchronicity of a random book just falling perfectly into a square. This could go in “all the tropes”: there’s forbidden love, evil other woman, secrets, fake dating, only one bed, a touch of grumpy/sunshine. It could go into sparring, since the love interests are a personal trainer and his client and they playfully spar a lot. It has several delightful romantic gestures (and a past one that went excruciatingly wrong.) I could even make an argument for “dessert,” because the hero’s name is Wes and I don’t care if the author says he has dark hair, to me he is undoubtedly the hunk of deliciousness from “Nailed It.”

But as soon as I got to this line, I knew where the book had to go: “that night began a lifelong love of hand-holding.” And the theme continues. Although Wes and Britta are resisting each other for much of the book (ethical concerns on both sides) and don’t have many official boyfriend/girlfriend moments, his hand is always there to catch hers when she needs it.

“Let’s stretch,” I said, hurriedly reaching a hand to help her up again. In the sterile, muted colors of the gym, she was full of color and life, and the moment her hand was in mine, things felt right.

I mostly really liked this. Wes is very sweet, trying painfully hard to be a better man than the father who abandoned his family, and Britta is totally relatable with her efforts to love her large body. They’re adorable together, and I laughed so hard at this scene from their brief stint of fake dating:

“You’re an easy fake girlfriend to love.”

My breath stuttered at his words. “Whoa cowboy. Love? You’re moving a little fast, aren’t you? We’ve been fake dating for less than six hours.”

“When you pretend to know, you know.” His low chuckle shook the mattress enough to put my body on a delicious edge. “And after defeating your aunt, I’m feeling confident.”

“Fair, And, I’ll admit, the pretend sex is good–“

“Good? C’mon girl. I rock your imaginary world.”

There’s some good stuff about self-love and self-care, and those grand gestures are worked in so well thematically, I wound up feeling more positively overall about the book than I expected to. The thing that put me off was the personal training aspect. Wes co-owns a coaching app, and has worked very hard to make it one that is positive, supportive and not weight focused. And I really appreciated that we see Britta fall into the trap of over-exercising and undereating, with pretty dire results. I’ve been there, and it’s not talked about enough. But I’m really skeptical about a lot of the “science” of physical education and nutrition, to say nothing of “healthy living” fads that are all just diets under another name. Despite Wes and the author’s best intentions, I guess I found this a little triggering.

Still, the scenes in which he’s helping her train are very tender. And Britta has a really good arc, learning to love herself and reach her dreams, both personally and professionally. I do hope it’ll all continue to be good for her.

2 responses to “The Fastest Way to Fall by Denise Williams

  1. azteclady says:

    I’m glad you are writing down your thoughts.

    I have a lot of issues with the “wellness” industry myself, and the relentless emphasis on weight and BMI, everywhere.

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