Title: Slim Chance
Author: Jeff Erno
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: June 26, 2017
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 200
Reviewed by: CrabbyPatty
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Can a man improve his appearance without losing everything good inside him?
Oliver has always been obese and suffered from a negative body image. He’s tried diets before, failing time after time, but he vows this time will be different. As he begins an exercise program, his confidence increases—and so does his interest in his friend and coworker Benjy. Though they bonded long ago over a love of online gaming, it takes a lot of courage for Oliver to share his new body and be intimate with another man.
A passionate romance blooms, but as Oliver nears his goal, it seems he doesn’t need Benjy—with his chronic anxiety and troubled past—now that he’s made attractive new friends at the gym. But not all relationships are equal, and Oliver realizes that Benjy, who loved and supported him when no one else did, is more than a reminder of his old life.
A pleasing appearance means nothing when it hides a lonely, empty heart, and if Oliver cannot decide what’s truly important, he’ll lose what he cherishes most.
For anyone who has struggled with weight, Slim Chance may hit you hard. Twenty-four year old Oliver has been big most of his life from puberty on and is used to making fun of himself first before others can get a chance. The story is told in Oliver’s POV so we get full access into his psyche. When at a tuxedo fitting, Oliver looks at himself in the mirror:
He held out his arms, taking in the puffiness of his bloated hands. He turned again to the right to view his profile and glared angrily at his distended belly. This wasn’t who he wanted to be, not now at the age of twenty-four and not ever.
“I hate you,” he whispered.
It’s difficult to read of Oliver’s self-loathing but harder still when he continues the same internal dialogue as he lose weight. The author really gets that it can be hard to change that internal soundtrack ever when faced with positive results. Oliver’s co-worker Benjy is his cheerleader every step of the way and yet “Benjy’s unfailing optimism annoyed Oliver at times.” Benjy is a sweetheart, completely supportive of Oliver and I liked how their relationship develops, but yet it bothered me that Oliver couldn’t see past his own situation and embrace Benjy’s social anxiety. After lecturing Benjy (“Benjy, what if I tried to force you to be in situations you knew you couldn’t handle?”), Oliver turns around and does exactly the same thing to Benjy when his acute social anxiety kicks in:
Things didn’t have to be this way. Benjy didn’t have to turn every situation into an ordeal, a big, melodramatic scene. They were going to the fucking gym, not door-to-door preaching the gospel. What cause was there for anxiety in the first place? What exactly did Benjy fear?
There is a subplot regarding some heartless “gym bunnies” who ridicule Oliver, yet Oliver ends up going out with them socially. Again, I get how someone who has struggled with self esteem can get caught up in supposedly being accepted by the “cool kids” but I found it unforgivable in the context of Oliver’s relationship with Benjy.
Slim Chance has a lot to recommend it – a heartfelt account of a man struggling first with weight and then with self acceptance and I would give this part of the story 4 stars; however I really struggled with Oliver’s difficulty in understanding Benjy (however the lovely Epilogue (“I love you because of your imperfections. Baby, you’re perfectly flawed… and so am I.”- swoon) went a long way in upping the overall star rating) 3.5 stars for Slim Chance.