It’s been a while since I’ve read my favourite summer genre—the cute, light, romantic rom-com—so when Bet On It by Jodie Slaughter (in stores July 12!) was next on my TBR list, I was so excited to into it. Not only could I relate to someone having a panic attack in the middle of the frozen foods section and how incredibly embarrassing it would be to have someone find you like that, but add in a bingo twist (I secretly love playing bingo—I’ve only been with my grandmother, but I need to find a way to do it again), and I had high expectations.
The first time Aja Owens encounters the man of her dreams, she’s having a panic attack in the frozen foods section of the Piggly Wiggly. The second time, he’s being introduced to her as her favourite bingo buddy’s semi-estranged grandson. From there, all it takes is one game for her to realize that he’s definitely going to be a problem. And if there’s anything she already has a surplus of, it’s problems.
In Walker Abbott’s mind, there are only two worthwhile things in Greenbelt, South Carolina. The peach cobbler at his old favourite diner and his ailing grandmother. Dragging himself back after more than a decade away, he’s counting down the days until Gram heals and he can get back to his real life. Far away from the trauma inside of those city limits. Just when he thinks his plan is solid, enter Aja to shake everything up.
A hastily made bingo-based sex pact is supposed to keep this…thing between them from getting out of hand. Especially when submitting to their feelings means disrupting their carefully balanced lives. But emotions are just like bingo callers—they refuse to be ignored.
I breezed through this in less than two days (and not a weekend!) because I absolutely loved it. It was sweet, well-written, sexy and featured an actual plus-size character who loved her body and was loved despite her body, and there’s just not enough of that in the world.
There is no way I could cover how much I love (and relate to) Aja, the female protagonist: she’s a big girl who suffers from anxiety, likes to hang around older people and whose day job involves writing words for social media. I mean, other than the fact that I’m white and don’t live in the South, I could see myself in her. She was who she was and made sure the people around her respected her for it. And then there’s Walker, the more typical southern boy with a traumatizing past that affected him. He felt like a whole person—and a dreamy one at that!
While I love that most of their relationship was healthy—they tried to set boundaries and were respectful of them (until both of them were comfortable enough breaking them!), they had meaningful conversations and were super believable as a couple. That is until the central conflict comes into play near the end of the story. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, so I’m not going to say anything more than I don’t think people (even those with PTSD) would act the way he did for as long as he did. I wish Slaughter had resolved the problem earlier—I don’t see why that much time needed to pass.
I was not expecting this to be as sexy as it was. It wasn’t inappropriate or crossing a line or anything, but the sex is pretty explicit (and sexy!), and I love that we got to see bigger-bodied people have sex in a healthy, loving way where their size wasn’t an issue or even talked about. The chemistry between the characters was insane, and unlike anything I’d read in a long time.
I highly recommend this to anyone who loves these kinds of books, especially those with anxiety or PTSD (we deserve love, too!) and all my big girls out there. I can’t wait to go back into Jodie Slaughter’s back catalogue and read some of her other stuff.
“I know we live in a time where some people feel more comfortable talkin’ about mental health than they have in the past, but it’s still easy to feel alone when you’re in the thick of it. Plus, it’s not like society as a whole makes it safe for people to be as open as they might want to be about this kind of thing.” —Jodie Slaughter, Bet On It
Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the advanced copy, and to Sarah Pflug on Burst for the featured photo.