I received an ARC of this book via John Murray Press and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
OMBEA! Bea Schumacher is a devastatingly stylish plus-size fashion blogger with amazing friends, thousands of Insta followers – and a massively broken heart. Bea indulges in her weekly obsession: the hit reality show Main Squeeze. The fantasy dates! The kiss-off rejections! The surprising amount of guys named Ben! But Bea is sick and tired of the lack of body diversity on the show. Since whenis being a size zero a prerequisite for getting engaged on television?
Although Bea has sworn off men altogether, when Main Squeeze ask her to be its next star, she agrees on one condition: under no circumstances will she actually fall in love.
But when the cameras start rolling, Bea finds herself in a whirlwind of sumptuous couture, Twitter wars, sexy suitors, and an opportunity (or two, or five) to find messy, real-life love in the midst of a made-for-TV fairy tale. Bea has to decide whether it might just be worth trusting these men – and herself – for a chance at her own happily ever after.
I have a love-hate relationship with reality TV dating shows, for sure. The way they portray “love” is problematic, the cast aren’t representative of every group of society and the “real” scenarios they depict are – more than likely – down to producers poking and prodding at footage. This is exactly what One To Watch focuses on, except with a new kind of contestant at the forefront.
Bea is funny, sassy and successful but – as the book unfolds – we see her online persona being chipped away and a real, vulnerable person come out. There’s no denying that I liked Bea, but this feeling lessened a bit when she started actually playing the game and falling in love. I would’ve just been happy for this book to be a plus sized woman putting two fingers up to reality TV dating shows, her haters and the world that – consciously or not – stands against her. This wasn’t where her character went, unfortunately.
Stayman-London was bang on about her discussions on body positivity and sexuality, especially how they are two things that are always subject to change and criticism. We’re so used to reading one opinion on things like this so it was good that both sides were discussed and double standards were called out. I wish more writers called out things that need discussing, that’s for sure.
Whilst I couldn’t deny the reality TV basis of this book was appealing, if predictable and annoying at times, I wasn’t a fan of the writing style. I liked the dialogue filled chapters and the extracts from Bea’s blog, but I just felt like the magazine articles, WhatsApp group chats and everything else wasn’t as enjoyable to read – and wasn’t really needed – compared to the rest of the book.
Saying that, One To Watch is one to …well, read. An enjoyable, interesting book, which would be perfect whilst lounging poolside – or even whilst watching a dating show!
One To Watch will be published on 7th July 2020.
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