Published by Berkley Books on May 10, 2022
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Romance
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FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley. All opinions are my own.
SET ON YOU is Amy Lea’s debut novel and it is a delight! It’s a contemporary romance that focuses on fitness, features a plus size heroine and her sexy gym rival, but that also shines a light on the unfair standards our society has when it comes to beauty and anyone who isn’t a size zero.
The protagonist Crystal Chen is a biracial curvy fitness influencer. The gym is her happy place and she doesn’t go there to lose weight. She goes there because she loves to lift weights. Being strong and healthy is her goal. Her social media channels are devoted to supporting others like her who aren’t a size zero but who are looking to improve their overall fitness. She posts workout tutorials and lots of support and encouragement. Crystal is such a fabulous character. I loved that she embraced her curves and that she worked so hard to inspire others and keep them motivated to achieve their goals. I also liked that even though she’s so inspirational, she also comes across as a realistic and relatable character, and sometimes she’s a downright hot mess.
The romantic element of the story is fresh and fun too, as it centers on Crystal and her gym nemesis. Crystal is meticulous and regimented when it comes to her gym workouts. For that reason, she doesn’t take too kindly to Scott, the new guy at the gym, a sexy firefighter who seems to be going out of his way to be annoying, even taking equipment that she is clearly about to use. Now I’ll admit that some of Scott’s antics were a little juvenile, but it was hilarious watching him get under her skin, especially when she starts referring to him as Squat Rack Thief. It’s pretty obvious that Scott is attracted to Crystal and trying to get her attention, and it’s equally obvious that no matter how mad Crystal gets at the Squat Rack Thief, she is pretty obsessed with him.
The evolution of their relationship is adorable too. Crystal and Scott are forced to relate to each other as something other than rivals when they realize that Crystal’s grandmother has been dating and wants to marry Scott’s grandfather. Getting to see each other outside of the competitive gym environment really helped take their relationship to the next level. Crystal begins to think of Scott in ways she never would have imagined, while Scott becomes one of Crystal’s biggest supporters when it comes to both her career and her fitness, working out with her and even helping her film workouts for her social media account. Both of their families are great too, and I especially enjoyed watching the grandparents embrace a second chance for love. They were so sweet together!
Aside from the fun rivals to lovers romance, Set On You also does a lot to tackle those unfair perceptions about size and beauty and it offers some interesting commentary on the body positivity movement and the effect internet trolls and haters can have on a person’s self esteem. As much as I enjoyed the romance between Crystal and Scott, Crystal’s work to inspire others and to honestly talk about her struggles with her own perception of her curvy body really made this a powerful read in addition to being a super fun one. If you’re looking for an entertaining and timely read to toss in your beach bag this summer, definitely check out Set On You!