Release Reviews: The Weight of it All: N.R. Walker

The Weight of It All
N.R. Walker
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Released September 12, 2016
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After being dumped by his long-term boyfriend for being overweight, Henry Beckett decides to make some drastic changes. In a vain attempt at getting his boyfriend back, Henry does the most absurdly frightening thing he can think of.

He joins a gym.

Reed Henske is a personal trainer who isn’t sure he’ll ever be ready to date again. He’s sick of guys who are only interested in the perfect body image, never seeing him for who he really is.

As Reed tortures Henry with things like diet and exercise, Henry enamours Reed with recipes and laughter. As the friendship lines start to blur, Henry is convinced there’s no way Thor-like Reed could ever be interested in a guy like him.

Reed just has to convince Henry that life isn’t about reaching your ideal bodyweight. It’s about finding your perfect counterweight.

Most people can’t tell you the moment their life changed. One day they’re twenty years old with the world at their feet, then the next they’re closer to forty and wondering where the hell their life went. There’s no Logan’s Run age qualifier that deems you’re past your use-by date. There’s no ceremony with gowns and funny hats to say you’ve graduated from ticking one age-group box on a survey to ticking the next age-group box. You just turn around, and wham-bam-thank-you-very-fucking-much, you’re old.

Well, older.

I’m thirty-five. I don’t classify myself as old. Well, I didn’t.

Until Graham, my live-in boyfriend of eight years, came home and told me he was done. He didn’t want to spend his life with an overweight old man. I wasn’t fun anymore. I didn’t look after myself anymore. I wasn’t what he wanted.

And that was the moment my life changed.

Just to be clear on one thing, my now ex-boyfriend is the same age as me. And when he called me an old man, he wasn’t having a dig at my age. He was having a go at how I lived my life. I didn’t go out clubbing, I didn’t go for runs through the park, I didn’t want to go hiking on weekends.

Strolls for coffee, yes. And weekends at a log cabin reading books, doing wine tours, and cooking too much food, yes. I was more about enjoying the finer things in life, whereas he was avoiding his thirties the same way a cat avoided going to the vet. And apparently that made me old.

So the age comment I could ignore because I liked what I liked. But the overweight comment hit me hard.

After I’d gotten over the shock of his words and the shock of seeing his stuff packed in boxes and his front door key sitting on the kitchen bench, the realisation hit me that, yes, he really was leaving me. But the biggest shock came afterwards. After two bottles of wine and sobbing with my best friend, Anika, on the now-mostly-empty living room floor, I made my way to the bathroom. Drunk and an emotional mess, I stripped off intending to shower. Only I saw myself in the mirror and, for the first time, saw myself.

And I saw how Graham saw me, and I saw why he left me.

I was overweight. I did look old. I was a fucking mess.

So yes, that, the very lowest point of my life, was the day my life changed.

* * * *

Two days later I stood out the front of the local gym, which was ten minutes from my place, that I’d driven past a thousand times, gathering my resolve to walk inside. With a deep breath and newfound determination, I pushed through the doors and walked up to the reception counter. A young and fit looking woman smiled brightly at me. “Can I help you?”

“Yes. My name is Henry Beckett. And I need some help getting my boyfriend back.”

She blinked. “Pardon?”

“My life,” I amended quickly. Great work Henry, you idiot. Announce that you have no life and you’re gay as an icebreaker. Seriously, this is why you’re single. “I meant to say, I need help getting my life back.”

I heard someone chuckle beside me, and I turned to see a gorgeous, six foot fridge-sized man smiling at me. He had short blond hair, stunning blue eyes, and he wore a gym uniform so tight it looked like it was painted on. He held out his hand, and I was almost scared to shake it in fear he would crush my fingers or something, but it was warm and firm. “My name’s Reed. And you’ve come to the right place.”

Henry Beckett's life just hit rock bottom. His long time boyfriend left him and feels fat, boring, and lonely. He decides to take charge of his life and joins a gym. He meets his new trainer Reed Henske who is built, handsome, kind, and funny.

Henry is embarrassed and out of shape, but has a great sense of humor and an unfiltered mouth. But he often uses it in a self deprecating way and as a shield. Reed is attentive, positive, and supportive. He helps Henry through the "these-workouts-are-going-to-kill-me" stage and encourages Henry to do his best. They gradually begin realizing they have some common interests and develop an easy going rapport that begins to carry over outside of the gym.

I loved both of these guys. They had me constantly smiling and laughing, But I could also understand Henry's negative feelings and insecurities. Reed gives off the the illusion that he is perfect, but he has his own history and trust issues. They both have vulnerabilities and fears. And it is hard for Henry to believe that someone like Reed would be interested in him. Henry struggles with his self worth and body issues, so it is an ongoing growth process for him. But Reed is there for him, and pushes him outside of his comfort zone. And he also has great cheerleaders in his best friends Anika and Sean.

This is really Henry's journey towards finding balance, becoming healthier, gaining confidence, and acceptance. His transformation is just as much mental and emotional as it is physical. I enjoyed seeing his progress, his changing attitude, his opening up to others, and really sharing himself. He used to make himself as invisible as possible and had been living a stagnant, apathetic life. This is a true awakening and chance for him to make positive changes. 

I liked Henry's point of view and his humor (even when he was negative or whining), but sometimes I really wanted to get more in depth with Reed. The guys were sweet, endearing, and at times awkward, but they were completely adorable. I could appreciate Reed's kindness, understanding, and ability to motivate Henry and others. I understood Henry's insecurities and feelings of hopelessness and not being worthy. Even though they appeared to be opposites at times, they truly complemented and balanced each other in the ways that counted.

I really enjoyed the story line and felt is was real, relatable. funny, and heartwarming. The relationship was a slow build and the romance sometimes seemed secondary to Henry's life changes. I would have liked to see a bit more depth and drama to pull in stronger emotions. But it had many good messages, and I can honestly say that I really enjoyed this sweet and inspiring book and fell for these lovable guys.

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review. 

The Weight of It All is the sixth novel I’ve read from N.R. Walker, and this is easily the lightest read of them. It is a sweet and cute story that was easy and often fun to read, but neither the characters nor the plot are very deep, so despite the fact that I enjoyed the story, it left me wanting for something more.

Being dumped by his boyfriend of eight years is a shock to Henry Beckett, especially since his ex’s reason is that he doesn’t want to be saddled with an old and overweight man for the rest of his life. It’s a harsh wake-up call that makes 35-year-old Henry realize he wants to get his life back. So he does something that frightens him even more than the idea of being alone (and old and overweight), he joins a gym. His personal trainer, Reed Henske, is a paragon of physical fitness, but his friendliness and ready smile go a long way toward easing Henry into the hell known as exercise. And for some reason Henry can’t fathom, Reed finds him sharp and funny instead of an awkward know-it-all. But there’s no way someone who looks as good as Reed could be interested in someone like Henry, or is there?

The plot in The Weight of It All focuses almost completely on Henry’s journey, not just his path to becoming healthier but in gaining the confidence needed in order to accept himself as something more than a thirty-something whose ex-boyfriend called him fat. It is told entirely from his point of view, and the plethora of self-image issues he has makes his voice relatively easy to relate to. He’s intelligent and successful in his career, but he knows he doesn’t have much of a filter to keep himself from being awkward in social situations. His defense mechanism to deal with all of this is a rather sarcastic humor that comes across as amusing many times in the book. That being said, much of his humor coincides with situations where he is complaining about something, especially in the first quarter of the book. During this section, nearly every paragraph mentions how much pain he’s in during and after his first few exercise sessions. Granted, I’m no fan of exercise myself, but the repetitive grousing became irritating enough that his humor didn’t amuse me anymore. It does abates after this point, and we fortunately get to see a lot more of his humor in other situations and some of it is quite funny.

The good news for Henry is that Reed is a sucker for his humor, even when Henry is complaining. Reed is a lot of things that are perfect for Henry—perfect for a lot of people too—friendly, encouraging, attentive, and yeah, drop-dead gorgeous. The development of their relationship throughout the book was endearing, and I often found myself smiling because one of them said or did something sweet. By the time the book is done, we pretty much know all the important stuff about Henry. But while we do get to learn some about Reed, I found myself wishing his character had been developed more. Both of these characters are fairly simple, and there really isn’t a source of conflict between them outside their insecurities making them hesitant to advance their relationship. Since the story is mostly about Henry’s journey, though, there isn’t much need for them to be very deep, nor is it necessary for them to be at odds with one another for some convoluted reason. Furthermore, the author kept the characters true to themselves throughout, and that’s a much more important trait than having characters that are larger than life.

The net result: The Weight of It All is a simple and heartwarming story with a fuzzy romance built in. I suggest you save this one for a time when you aren’t looking for anything remotely heavy, when you can just let yourself enjoy all the cute fluff and an ending that will make you awww!

The author generously provided me a complimentary copy of The Weight of It All in exchange for this fair and honest review.
N.R. Walker

N.R. Walker is an Australian author, who loves her genre of gay romance. She loves writing and spends far too much time doing it, but wouldn’t have it any other way. She is many things: a mother, a wife, a sister, a writer. She has pretty, pretty boys who live in her head, who don’t let her sleep at night unless she gives them life with words. She likes it when they do dirty, dirty things… but likes it even more when they fall in love. She used to think having people in her head talking to her was weird, until one day she happened across other writers who told her it was normal.

She’s been writing ever since…


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