2015 RT Convention: Body Positivity & Plus-Size Characters

It’s a romance reader’s paradise in Dallas this week as we gather for the 2015 RT Booklovers Convention. We have so many intriguing panels this year, including “All Shapes: Body Positivity and Plus-Size Characters in Romance,” lead by authors Cara McKenna, Cherise Sinclair, Saranna DeWylde and Elia Winters.

L to R: Cara McKenna, Elia Winters, Saranna DeWylde and Cherise Sinclair

While “standard size” fictional characters are the norm, romance is known for its niches. And there are more romance novels with fat or plus-size characters than you may think. Below is a reading list of romance novels by the panelists, as well as other romance novels with plus-size characters that they recommend!

Cara McKenna

Unbound by Cara McKenna

“The book I was invited to be on the panel because of was Unbound. It actually features a ‘formerly fat’ heroine, who’s just lost a hundred pounds as the book opens, and is struggling to feel at home in her new and sometimes alienating body.”

Merry’s lost a lot recently—first her mother, then close to a hundred pounds. Feeling adrift, she strikes out in search of perspective. A three-week hike through the Scottish Highlands was supposed to challenge her new body and refocus her priorities, but when disaster strikes, she’s forced to seek refuge in the remote home of a brooding, handsome stranger…

Rob exiled himself to the Highlands years ago, desperate to escape his own self-destruction. Haunted by regrets, he avoids human contact at all costs…but when Merry turns up injured, he can’t very well run her off. And as he nurses her back to health, Rob can’t resist his guest’s sweet demeanor—or her flirtatious advances. The igniting passion between them rouses a secret appetite Rob has long struggled to keep hidden. But Merry craves nothing more than to help Rob surrender to his desires, and the journey draws the lovers into an entirely different kind of wilderness.

Curveball by Charlotte Stein

“Among many others by [Charlotte Stein]—she’s written loads of heroines who don’t fit the typical romance mold.”

When Judy Myers is offered a relaxing vacation to get away from her latest heartbreak, she can’t say no. A cruise on her brother’s yacht sounds like heaven…until she realises her brother’s best friend has been invited along for the ride.

Steven Stark is big, he’s loud, and he’s obviously not interested in the plump, plain little sister he used to tease unmercifully. In fact, he’s still quite happy to tease her – until she turns the tables on him. Now Steven can’t seem to keep his thoughts, or his hands, to himself. And worse, Judy’s not sure she can resist the attraction she’s kept buried for so many years.

Being trapped on a boat isn’t the best place to be, when you’re suddenly thrown a hunky curveball.

Saranna DeWylde

Fat by Saranna DeWylde

Writing this book was an emotional experience for me because my own self-doubt mirrors Claire’s and I have a track in my head that frequently tells me I’m not good enough. But I’m full on sick of that garbage and decided I’m not going to do it anymore. I’ve had so much feedback from this book where women have told me they have that same loop. It both broke my heart and comforted me at the same time. It was nice to know I wasn’t alone, but I’d never want anyone to feel that way about themselves.”

“You’re pretty, for a fat girl.” 

That’s nothing Claire Howard hasn’t heard before, and there’s part of her that doesn’t care, that thinks it’s okay to love herself just the way she is. Then there’s that other voice in her head, the one that plays on a constant loop that gets louder whenever people scrutinize her dinner order, snicker when she needs a belt extender on a plane, and outright laugh when they see her with her the kind of man they don’t think fat girls deserve. It reminds her that existing while fat is the worst thing in the world. It’s worse than being ignorant, bigoted or cruel—at least according to society’s standards. Even when she has the attentions of two men who are the embodiment of fantasy. 

But it’s not their love that matters, it’s her own. Fat is a brand that’s been seared into every aspect of her life—even her heart. Can Claire love herself enough to reach past the labels for her own happiness?

Called by the Bear serial by V. Vaughn

“[This book is] hot, sharp and edgy, well-written and just a lot of fun.”

I’m Carly Cutler and my dreams predict the future. So why am I dreaming about a sexy beast of a guy, a bear, and a paw print design? I don’t know. A force I can’t fight wants me to find out, and I’m leaving the only life I’ve ever known. With a fresh tattoo of a bear paw and my best friend by my side, I’m on a quest to find a man I’ve never met.

Sierra Steele here, and ready for adventure – We’ve been chosen. The moment I saw Carly’s first tattoo, I felt the undeniable attraction of the guy I’ve been dreaming about. My cautious friend can’t resist the pull either, and we’re off to the mountains to get answers. Something’s calling us, and I’m certain the hunky men are our exciting destiny. They’ll keep us safe from the bear, right?

Cherise Sinclair

Master of the Mountain by Cherise Sinclair

When Rebecca’s lover talks her into a mountain lodge vacation with his swing club, she soon learns she’s not cut out for playing musical beds. But with her boyfriend “entertaining” in their cabin, she has nowhere to sleep. Logan, the lodge owner, finds her freezing on the porch. After hauling her inside, he warms her in his own bed, and there the experienced Dominant discovers that Rebecca might not be a swinger…but she is definitely a submissive.

Rebecca knows that no one can love her plump, scarred body. But, to her surprise, Logan disagrees and is quite happy to show her just how much he enjoys her curves. Under his skilled hands, Rebecca loses not only her inhibitions, but also her heart.

Damaged from the war, Logan considers himself too dangerous to be around the enticing little sub. He sends her away for her own safety, not realizing she thinks she’s been rejected because of her size. When Logan’s mountains echo with her voice long after she’s gone, he knows she’s left behind part of herself—and taken his heart. But when he arrives in the city to reclaim her, Rebecca’s phone has been disconnected and her apartment is empty…

Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

“I loved that the theme was about acceptance and cherishing the body that the heroine had been given–and done with Crusie’s signature humor.”

Minerva Dobbs knows that happily-ever-after is a fairy tale, especially with a man who asked her to dinner to win a bet, even if he is gorgeous and successful Calvin Morrisey. Cal knows commitment is impossible, especially with a woman as cranky as Min Dobbs, even if she does wear great shoes and keep him on his toes. When they say good-bye at the end of their evening, they cut their losses and agree never to see each other again.

But fate has other plans, and it’s not long before Min and Cal meet again. Soon they’re dealing with a jealous ex-boyfriend, Krispy Kreme doughnuts, a determined psychologist, chaos theory, a freakishly intelligent cat, Chicken Marsala, and more risky propositions than either of them ever dreamed of. Including the biggest gamble of all—true love.

Elia Winters

Playing Knotty by Elia Winters

Emma Green has never been very confident. When Ian Cooper, an old friend, asks to rent out the back room of her bookstore for a bondage workshop, she agrees because she needs the money. She isn’t expecting to participate, and she definitely isn’t expecting to enjoy it. But all of Emma’s expectations fly out the window when she tentatively agrees to be Ian’s bondage model for workshops and exhibitions—and her success in the role upends all previous notions she had about her body and her desirability.

Now, Emma must learn to reconcile these conflicting images of herself while dealing with another conflict: Is Ian just another playboy, or everything she’s been looking for?

Fat by Saranna DeWylde

“I love Fat because Saranna perfectly captures the headspace of a fat woman who’s determined to love herself but doesn’t always find it easy. The book is incredibly hot and surprisingly sweet and touching, and I couldn’t get enough of it.”

Do you have a favorite romance novel with a plus-size character? Tell me in the comments! Check back here all week for more RT Convention coverage. If you missed some con coverage we’ve got it all right here.

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