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A gym nemesis pushes a fitness influencer to the max in Amy Lea’s steamy debut romantic comedy.
Curvy fitness influencer Crystal Chen built her career shattering gym stereotypes and mostly ignoring the trolls. After her recent breakup, she has little stamina left for men, instead finding solace in the gym – her place of power and positivity.
Enter firefighter Scott Ritchie, the smug new gym patron who routinely steals her favorite squat rack. Sparks fly as these ultra-competitive foes battle for gym domination. But after a series of escalating jabs, the last thing they expect is to run into each other at their grandparents' engagement party.
In the lead up to their grandparents' wedding, Crystal discovers there’s a soft heart under Scott’s muscled exterior. Bonding over family, fitness, and cheesy pick-up lines, they just might have found her swolemate. But when a photo of them goes viral, savage internet trolls put their budding relationship to the ultimate test of strength.
Lea debuts with a heartwarming rom-com centered on body positivity. Crystal Chen, a plus-size fitness influencer and personal trainer, has built her online brand on self-love, emphasizing that the gym is for everyone, regardless of shape or size. One day, she's having a good workout until an attractive "gym bro" blatantly ignores her clear dibs on the squat rack. Scott Ritchie, aka "Squat Rack Thief," is a firefighter, a devoted dog dad, and, despite first impressions, a good guy who wears his heart on his sleeve. Both tension and lust rise between him and Crystal during repeated run-ins at the gym making it a shock when they're reintroduced at their respective grandparent's engagement party. With the nuptials fast approaching, Crystal and Scott get to know one another on a deeper level and passion ignites. But when Crystal introduces her new boyfriend to her followers, internet trolls test their budding romance. Lea's prose is clear, witty, and powerful, delivering an ode to all those who struggle with self-acceptance. While the pacing lags a bit in the second half, the cute pop culture references, hilarious supporting characters, and sensual love scenes make up for it. Lea is a writer to watch. Agent: Kim Lionetti, Bookends Literary.