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Feature book: Self Made

9 December 2020

Self Made by Belinda Williams

Series: Freshwater #2
Subgenre: contemporary romance
Release date: 28 Sep 2020
Publisher: self-published
Format: ebook and print
Length: 334 pages
RRP: $5.99 (ebook); $27.10 (print)

In August 2020 I reviewed Read Between the Lines, the first book in this series—a fresh, modern book with deep issues that blew me away. Self Made is the second book in the series.

The hero, comedian Ant Monticello, is co-host of the nightly television chat show with Kat Chalmers from book 1, and the heroine is Kat’s friend and fitness coach Jessica Jinks. When I read the first book both Ant and Jess intrigued me, so I’m thrilled to read their story. There was a little spark between these two already, oh yes I noticed it, so do yourself a favour and begin with Read Between the Lines (thank me later)—but the book can also be read standalone.

I’ll begin with Ant. Honestly, this guy is so funny. A comedian, he has witty, sharp lines for every situation, and he isn’t afraid to use them. He’s the kind of guy who comes up with the incisive punchline you wish you’d had but can only think of three days later.

We saw in book 1 that he pushed Kat on camera to her boundaries and then a little more—and the show was better for it in the end. He knows how to read the room, and people, and use every situation to his advantage. His verbal wit and parry are fabulous and fun. Yes, when he pushes things a little too much it can lead to surprises, but he can cope.

He’s self-deprecating and modest, and calls himself a ‘professional goof-off’, because that’s essentially his life and career. Interestingly enough he’s not particularly proud of that. He was never really destined to get a ‘real job’ or be a high academic achiever. Comedy is his thing; it is what he loves and does best. His mouth and mind are his best assets, along with his dark Italian good looks (which he does not even count). He also always considers himself punching above his weight when it comes to women; never confident.

Jessica Jinks is a self-made fitness guru, fabulously successful online with her Hi-Jinks workouts and fitness brand. Her success is somewhat of a surprise to her, because she truly loves her ‘job’ and does it well. She loves that it makes people fit and healthy, and doesn’t mind showing the ‘real’ cost of exercise (e.g. sweaty photos), unlike unrealistic posed photos elsewhere online. She is all about not going to the gym but making the most of life and doing something you love to get fit, plus eating super well.

Jess makes people feel better. Ant makes people feel happy.

The book begins when Ant’s TV chat show gives Jess a three-month contract to whip Ant into shape before he accompanies a gorgeous model to the Aussie showbiz Logie Awards night. This might take some doing, because Ant considers cardiac exercise a nice walk down the street to pick up takeaway food. Jess, obviously, has other ideas. The whole fish-out-of-water syndrome with a fairly reluctant Ant being confronted with fitness training is highly entertaining—but the book is much more than that.

Both Ant and Jess have deep-seated insecurities and hang ups. Let’s face it, we all do to some extent. Watching these two discover the ‘real’ person behind each other’s façade is fascinating. Then they both make big mistakes, so step back from their tentative relationship. Then make more big mistakes!

It takes a lot to get these two together and I enjoyed every step of the way. Thanks, Belinda Williams, for another cracker of a story!

Looking forward to Freshwater #3, Daddy’s Girl.

Reviewed by Malvina

A review copy of this book was provided by the author.

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