Fashion design major Cat Mitchell has a closet full of gorgeous clothes – and not a single thing fits. After two years of runway modeling for easy cash, an accident shattered her lower leg bone and her self-esteem in just one swift fall. Ten months of no exercise, prescription steroids, comfort eating and yoga pants meant returning to campus as a size twelve instead of her former size two. When her gorgeous long-time friend with benefits sees her for the first time after her accident and snubs her in front of all her friends, Cat’s self-image hits rock bottom. Her sorority sisters all insist that she looks gorgeous, but all Cat sees is the roll of her stomach when she sits down, or the dimpling at the back of her thighs that wasn’t there last year. Cat’s therapist prescribes something radical to stop the downward spiral – nude modeling for a nearby college’s human form drawing classes. When Cat faces her fears and bares it all for the class, she realizes that she’s posing naked in front the most gorgeous, buffest guy she’s ever seen in her life. He asks her out after the class, and after one steamy night together, Cat’s absolutely smitten.
Nate’s pretty close to perfect – he takes Cat rock climbing when he discovers that it makes her feel strong and becomes a great chef after he learns that the perfect pesto sauce makes her swoon. Cat starts to feel like her old self again – confident and beautiful – as long as Nate’s around. Even when he discourages her from entering the Real Woman Project, a design competition for plus-sized apparel, she reasons that he’s just trying to prevent old body image wounds from splitting wide open again. But when Cat goes home with Nate for Thanksgiving, she discovers something shocking from his recent past that proves that he hasn’t always been so encouraging of women of all shapes and sizes. Cat has no idea what to think, but she does know one thing – this might destroy their relationship before it’s even had a chance to get off the ground.
Before Cat can figure out whether the real Nate is the sensitive, adoring guy she fell in love with, or an undercover asshole, she’ll have to finally feel comfortable in her own skin – even if it means leaving him forever.
I reached up and tugged his head forward, bringing his lips to mine again. I knew one thing as his tongue dove between my lips, tasting, seeking, playing against mine – I wanted those lips on every part of my body.
Which is why it made no fucking sense that, when his lips drifted to my neck and his fingers played under the edge of my shirt, I started shaking. And then – Oh my God, not now, I begged myself – I was short of breath, and my vision blackened at the edges.
I could not be having a panic attack. Not right here, not right now. No.
I wanted him so badly. But my hands pressed flat against his chest and pushed him away.
“I’m so sorry,” he said, sitting upright and running a hand through his hair. Every time he moved his arms, all I could see was the slight movement of his pecs underneath that close fitting shirt.
“No, no. It’s me. I swear.”
“Tell me it’s just your leg. Tell me I didn’t misinterpret this.”
I let my head fall back on the bed. The air hit the damp trail his lips had left on my neck, and I shivered with wanting his lips there again.
“God, I hate myself,” I moaned. “I’m so sorry. Just…ever since my accident…everything is so different. I feel like my whole body is just some prison for a person who looks different, who feels different. I keep trying to shake it, but sometimes…I can’t forget who I used to be.”
His face was so confused, and even though I’d sworn I’d never do this, I fumbled in my pocket for my cell phone. I scrolled back through the pictures from my freshman year at college, and pulled up one of me in short shorts and a tank, on the quad in between classes during the first hot August week of school. My collarbones jutted out, my thighs weren’t even close to touching each other, and there wasn’t an excess blob of fat anywhere.
Nate peered at the phone, then peered at me.
“Yeah,” I said, looking down and shaking my head slowly. “See? That’s what I used to look like.”
“Well, that doesn’t look like you. Not the you I know anyway.”
His comment was sweet, and I knew that. But by now my brain was already a step ahead of him. I swept my hands down, indicating my whole body. “No. This doesn’t look like me.” A lump rose in my throat, but I swallowed hard, forcing it back down. I would not cry. Could not. Refused to cry in front of hot-used-to-be-fat-and-was-now-totally-gorgeous Nate.
“And when you kissed me like that…I don’t know. The last person I did this with” I motioned to the bed “totally dumped my ass the next time he was close to seeing me naked.”
He scooted closer to me on the bed, letting his hand rest on my waist. Hi voice dropped and he looked into my eyes. “Is this okay?”
I nodded, biting my lip. There I went again, trying to look sexy in one of the least sexy moments ever.
“I want to tell you a story,” he leaned in, his voice low and husky. “About the day I went to my human form drawing class at Drexel, And instead of some ugly horny guy model, or some old woman, or some skin-and-bones girl with ribs popping out, literally the most gorgeous individual I have ever seen in my entire life walked into that room.”
“You’re kidding me.” My voice was a whisper. “My therapist said it was either try doing shit like that to get over my body issues, or have them get even worse.”
He moved his hand farther down my waist. When it grazed against the bump of fat and skin at the top of my yoga pants, I tensed. I didn’t want to hate my body – but I did.
“Did it help?” Concern flooded his eyes, laced with something like hope.
“No,” I whispered, and his mouth pressed into a tight line. “But,” I said, brushing my hand under his jaw, “Tonight did. The rock climbing. I felt strong.”
“And the kissing? Did that help?” His eyebrow flicked up, and the smile was back.
“The kissing made me feel sexy.” I leaned forward and planted a light kiss on his mouth, but when his moved against mine, I couldn’t stop. My breath quickened as he leaned further into me and our tongues played against each other. As my heart sped up, though, I realized how freaking confusing this must be.
“But,” I said, letting my forehead rest against his for just a moment before leaning back, “It really freaked me out. And the only thing I could think about after that night was that I would never let anyone see me naked again. And it seems that applies to touching, too.”
“I have a very serious question for you, then.”
Oh shit. This was it. Gorgeous Nate was going to dump me, just like Jake had done. My heart sank at the same time a fresh anger flowed through me. Why lead me on, if he was just going to do that?
“Do you think that it also applies to kissing?” He leaned in and kissed me lightly on each cheek, then on my lips.
My eyes fluttered closed. A rush of warmth surged through me, chasing away the nervousness. “You know, it might not.”
“Well,” he said, smoothing his lips across my jaw, “I have a proposal.”
“I’m listening,” I said, holding back a sigh.
“I kiss you. Everywhere. Starting with your gorgeous face.” He moved his mouth to the underside of my jaw, and flicked a tongue out there.
“You tell me when it’s too much. When you’re stressed, when you’re panicked, when you feel ugly. And I will stop, and we’ll find something we like on TV, and we’ll try again next time.”
He came back up to brush his lips against mine. “Next time,” I murmured. “Okay.” This guy was promising a next time, despite all my freaky freaking out.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
*ARC given to blog for honest review*
3.5 “Happy in this Skin” Kisses
Catherine Mitchell’s life is nothing like it once was. 10 months ago she was in a horse-riding accident that broke her leg and change her life. Pieced together with metal and screws, she not only looks different, she feels different, she thinks different – in less than a year, everything has changed, it’s a jolt to her system. A junior fashion design major at Temple University, working with and around beautiful things and people that in a world and culture you used to be a part of is also a mind fuck – this was your life, you used to look like that, and every look she gets from every friend she has, she feels like they are judging and pitying her for the way her life is now.
“Getting comfortable with how I looked was going to be tough, though, with the overwhelming feeling that all I wanted was to get the hell out of my body.”
Cat is a mess – she doesn’t know what to do with herself because her identity was wrapped up in what she looked like and her life as a model. Looking completely different obviously makes her feel completely different and it’s a shock – obviously. It’s very compelling and I empathized with her…what woman wouldn’t! There are very very few women I know that are 100% A-Okay with their looks, we can all find at least one flaw in ourselves…it’s our ‘Achilles heal’…as amazing and fabulous creatures that we are, no matter what we look like on the outside, we will always see the negative and hold it deep in a place in our hearts, letting it eat away until that’s all we can think about. That is what we get to see with Cat, and it’s very emotional.
Nathaniel West…Nate…sigh…yum…drooling…okay *shakes head* focusing now. What are the odds that a guy Cat has a brief encounter with also happens to be around during her ‘take back control’ moment? A moment involving nakedness…lots of nakedness…public nakedness. I bow down to Cat…the amount of balls it takes to get naked in front of ANYONE period = HUGE. To get in front of a perfectly gorgeous dude = ASTRONOMICAL. I was on the edge of my seat with that scene…it was just sheer greatness.
‘He was just a guy, and I was just a model. I was here to feel beautiful, to feel powerful. I was not going to worry about what one guy thought about me naked. He was just one guy. One completely gorgeous guy.’
I loved that Nate took all her fears, her insecurities, her worries, and pushed them straight out of her brain. Let her see and feel and hear how he thought she was perfect – cause for him, she really was. Their connection is serendipitous and almost has a ‘fairy tale’-esque ring to it, which I really loved…gives you the butterflies cause it’s just so sweet and perfect.
“…Now you’re my entire definition of perfect.”
So of course ‘perfect’ Nate is harboring secrets…I think the fact that he kept those secrets after everything she divulged to him makes that betrayal just a little more…wrong. Once again, I hurt for Cat, I couldn’t relate, but I could empathize. And I like that out of all the ways she could have taken that information, her reaction made her character stronger. I appreciated that…a lot. If I’m honest though, the ending with her actions/reactions as well as with Nate seemed a little rushed. Things came a little too easy.
Okay…my only “issue” (if you want to call it that) with this book, was how her weight/size was depicted and described. I understand she gained 60 lbs. For someone who has been small all their life, that’s a shock, a completely justifiable shock. The way Cat described herself, you would think she was morbidly obese. I am not a small girl and I never have been – so half the stuff going thru Cat’s brain, I could identify with, but the other half I was insulted by. I’m not saying everyone has their own reactions and feelings towards their weight or weight gain, but a girl that’s a size 12 should have ZERO worries about whether or not her butt fits on a chair. Maybe it was being played up and intentionally over exaggerated, I just feel like her insecurities about that could have been portrayed differently.
With all that being said, I really did enjoy Picture Perfect. It was a change in story lines I didn’t know I was craving. If you’re looking for an original story, I highly recommend Picture Perfect.
Alessandra Thomas is a New Adult writer who swears she was in her twenties yesterday. Since she’s not, she spends her time looking back on her college years fondly, and writing sexy stories about guys and girls falling in love and really living life for the first time. When she’s not writing, you can find her with a spoonful of ice cream in one hand and the newest New Adult release in the other.
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