“Skinny Bitch in Love” by Kim Barnouin, is frothy chick-lit with every requirement. Heroine Clementine has a suitably bizarre family, a gay best friend and a fat best friend. Her fat best friend is actually an aspiring actress, hoping to play the Fat Friend in movies. (That means she is probably Los Angeles fat, which is what we in New York sometimes call “a person”) Her gay best friend likes to make cupcakes. Her corporate sister refuses to use her given name, Apple, and asks their hippie family to please use her middle name, Elizabeth. Later on, Clem spies her love interest with a gorgeous young lady who turns out to be his as-yet-unmmentioned, fraternal twin sister. So much chick-lit goodness!
In the beginning of the book, Clem dramatic loses her job (that chick lit standard!) when the vegan meal she prepares for a high-profile food critic mysteriously contains butter. Although she’s pretty sure she’s been sabotaged by a jealous coworker (Is there any other kind, in chicklitland?), she’s blacklisted from the vegan restaurants of Los Angeles.
She sets up vegan cooking classes, does some personal catering, and, of course, meets a handsome and wealthy man who is opening a steakhouse across the street from her apartment, because of course he is. “Skinny Bitch In Love” follows the caught-between-two-guys model, not the he-was-there-all-along model, and the second love interest is a sweet British vegan chef. Actually, I was rooting for the British chef, even though he was fairly two-dimensional, because Clem and steakhouse guy just kept clashing. I’m not really moved by a cycle of dramatic fights over misunderstandings, and more dramatic reconciliations, with expensive gifts. Although I admit to enjoying a male lead who makes every single grand gesture possible in the course of just one book, I’d rather Clem had ended up with less door-slamming in her lovelife.
Meanwhile, fat friend Sara starts going vegan, and weight just disappears, leading to the inevitable moment when a guy sees her thinner and stylish, and really notices her for the first time. Oh, rom-com cliches, how I love you!
I discovered after reading it that the Skinny Bitch novel is actually a spinoff of the Skinny Bitch cookbook, which fit in well with Clementine’s No-Crap Cafe, but made Sara’s magical weightloss while feeling so full and eating such yummy things seem like more of cookbook advert and less chick lit magic. Still the book includes all the charming chick=lit standards, against the exciting backdrop of LA.