She’s my sun and moon.
My stars, my air, my sunshine.
She’s every heartbeat.
There are two kinds of women in the world – those I can bang, and those I can’t.
My teammate’s sister?
She’s a can’t.
I moved in with her to protect her from a nasty ex, not to be the next guy in line.
She’s the brains.
I’m the brawn.
She’s the fruit.
I’m the sausage.
She talks too much.
I don’t talk at all, if I don’t have to.
Should be easy to resist her.
But every minute I spend with Felicity is another minute she gets under my skin. She makes me feel like something more than a dumb puckhead with a big Zamboni pony. And it’s getting harder to remember why I need to keep my hands to myself.
Beauty and the Beefcake is a vegan-friendly standalone romantic comedy featuring a hockey player whose vocabulary is the only thing smaller than a hockey puck, a book smart but aimless ventriloquist with too many voices in her head, a dilapidated old house that may or may not be haunted, and no cheating or cliffhangers.
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Your honor, I’d like to enter into evidence exhibit one, The Beauty and The Beefcake by Pippa Grant on why you should never underestimate the romance genre, why people should stop referring to it as “mommy porn”, and why people (women especially) should stop being embarrassed to read it.
Yes, The Beauty and The Beefcake has all the requisite requirements of a romantic comedy – humor, shenanigans, and of course, sexy times. But Ms. Grant’s ability to weave words into an entertaining and enjoyable story is not what sets her apart from other contemporary romance authors. No, it’s Ms. Grant’s ability to insidiously insert an underlying message about the human condition, social norms, and acceptance into an otherwise fluffy, feel-good story that truly makes this novel stand out.
On the surface TB2 reads like any other book in the genre – silly, steamy, and full of as-expected tropes – but it’s so much more. She took a silent, brooding secondary character and turned him into a hero with depth and emotion and managed to do it while giving him only 176 lines of dialogue. Additionally, the heroine of this story is not at all whom I expected her to be when she was introduced in the previous novel, Royally Pucked. Ms. Grant served up the expected on a silver platter, but when the cloche was removed we instead find the surprising and the unexpected.
Let’s move past the characters because as likeable as they and their story are, it’s the underlying theme of this seemingly irreverent romantic comedy that I want to explore. That of acceptance; of looking beneath the surface; of not judging the book (or the beefcake) by the cover. Perhaps that wasn’t Ms. Grant’s intentions. Perhaps she meant to write a regular romance about regular characters, but she failed. She gave us human, hurting, flawed characters searching for someone, anyone, to see who they truly are (no, I did not intend to evoke Moana, but it works so I left it). To see past the brawn or the brains, or the weirdness and awkwardness, to understand that they are so much more than what society sees and disregards because they aren’t “normal”.
And THAT your honor, is why I loved this story. THAT is why I couldn’t put it down and read it straight through at eleven o’clock at night. Because I’ve been the awkward one, the weird one, the one who talks too much or doesn’t talk enough, the one who has been underestimated or condescended to because of how people perceived me without taking the opportunity to really know me.
So please, don’t let the cover or the title of this book fool you. It’s not your ordinary, run-of-the-mill romance.