Slim Chance, by Jeff Erno
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: June 26, 2017
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.
Friends to Lovers
Content Warning for:
I’m actually surprised by the variety of emotion such a short book took me through. There were a lot of morals in this one so I guess I’ll cover them as they come up. First off the story is primarily focused on Oliver who, when the book starts, is obese. He’s depressed and really down on himself. He’s surrounded by loving, supportive friends, co-workers and family, but he’s so down on himself he cannot see it. When the book started Oliver was unlikeable. I really hate when a person is miserable and it makes them mean and unkind to others. That was Oliver when the books starts, and I didn’t think I’d be able to suffer through.
After taking a good hard look at himself at a friend’s wedding, Oliver decides to make a change and starts to diet and exercise. The author was quite crafty, because as the book progressed and Oliver lost weight and started feeling better about himself his internal monologue and outlook on life changed, and I found him to be more and more likable and his emotions easier to relate to.
Initially Benjy is a co-worker of Oliver’s who progresses into a friend that just seems to always be around. He’s the complete opposite of Oliver; where Oliver is obese, Benjy is slim. Where Oliver is outgoing, Benjy is anxious and doesn’t do well in social settings. (We actually find out later in the book Benjy is diagnosed with a sever anxiety disorder.)
The two, against Oliver’s better judgement (he feels like he’s not happy with himself and not ready to be in a relationship) embark down a non-platonic path. Oliver is also going to a gym at this point and he becomes loosely associated with some fellow gym-goers. Initially the guys seem to be the “ideal” physically perfect specimens that Oliver can only hope to be.
This is where the book sort of pissed me off. I won’t get into any spoilers, but as Oliver becomes more and more self-confident he also becomes more self-focused. He stops seeing Benjy as someone who liked him in whatever form he came in and starts focusing on who he thinks Benjy should be to compliment the new him. The main take away from what I’m calling the “gym debacle” is that people aren’t always what they appear to be.
Overall I found the book to be enjoyable and full of life lessons without being preachy. I enjoyed the relationship Oliver and Benjy had, and the ups and downs felt well paced. It was an interesting take on weight loss that I’ve read a ton in the genre, but this felt very well done.
Jeff Erno is a gay man who writes gay-themed fiction. His stories include m/m romances, young adult themes, BDSM, paranormal & sci-fi, and mysteries. Jeff Erno grew up in rural northern-Michigan and is very much a country boy at heart. He came out as gay in his early twenties and began writing gay-themed stories in the late 1990s. Initially he wrote for his own enjoyment, then one day posted some of his work on a free amateur website. The positive feedback he received spurred him to continue. By the time he received his first publishing contract, he’d completed four novel-length stories. Many of Jeff’s stories are set in his small, northern-Michigan hometown, Boyne City. He’s passionate about combating teen bullying and LGBT homelessness. He loves decorating cakes, cooking, crafts, and PFLAG. And he’s never written a story without a happy ending.
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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.