Review: You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me by Sarra Manning

Review: You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me by Sarra ManningYou Don't Have to Say You Love Me by Sarra Manning
Narrator: Julie Maisey
Length: 18 hrs, 14 mins
Published by Whole Story Audiobooks on September 7, 2011
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
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four-half-stars

Girls like Neve Slater don't get gorgeous guys like William. But William's been in L A for three years, and Neve's been slimming down in preparation for his return. Then her sister Celia points out that if Neve wants William to think she's an experienced love-goddess then she'd better get some experience - a man to show her the ropes, like Celia's colleague Max. And since he's not Neve's type, she certainly won't fall for him...

Thus far, Sarra Manning’s books have been very much hit or miss for me. I loved Adorkable, but then I DNFed the first book in her French Kiss trilogy and Unsticky. I fell in love with You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me from very early on, and I ended up not getting a whole lot of reading done because I could not stop listening to the audiobook. You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me is a good romance, but it’s an even better emotional journey for the heroine from insecurity to self-acceptance.

Neve Slater used to be morbidly obese, but through a couple of years of working out and a healthy diet, she’s lost a little over half the weight. She hasn’t yet reached her fitness goal (fitting into a size ten), but she’s sure that when she does, her life will finally be perfect. When she slips on that magic size ten, she will love herself and her body. And her long time crush William will be returning to England from his job in America soon, so the timing is perfect.

Now, I can’t speak to fat rep on a personal level, but I really liked what Manning did here. From what I can tell, Neve learns valuable lessons, and it’s decidedly not a book about how being slim is the path to happiness or the only way to find love. Neve’s low opinion of her own body could certainly be triggering, but You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me doesn’t come off as hating fatness (at least to me). And it very much comes down against unhealthy forms of losing the weight, like crash diets and juice cleanses that go on too long.

While I’ve never been obese and I’m probably pretty close to Neve’s goal size (though I am a million times less fit than Neve is), I do relate 100% to her body image issues. Basically everything she goes through and feels about her own body, I feel on a regular basis. I’ve had times in my life where I thought if I could get into the next smaller size, everything would be okay. It wasn’t a size I could ever be (I got into the goal size once, after having been sick and barely able to eat for a couple weeks). And now I’d love to lose ten to fifteen pounds, but guess what? I was that size in college, and I still hated my body. Neve learns this same thing on her journey; body image doesn’t have that much to do with what you actually look like.

Neve’s never kissed or dated anyone, and she’s terrified now that William’s return is coming closer. She doesn’t want to ruin their relationship through her inexperience. Thus, she decides to try to land a temporary boyfriend to practice on. Max, her sister’s coworker, agrees to play this role, as a test for himself to see if he can handle a relationship.

I really, really love Max and Neve together. They struggle a lot. They fight and they miscommunicate, and they both think about giving it up. However, they work through their issues, and they learn how to communicate with one another. Max thinks Neve is hot from the first time he meets her, and he continues to be really into her; it’s never a question, except in Neve’s head. This is another thing I related too a lot; as much as he tells Neve that he’s really attracted to her, it doesn’t do anything for her own valuation of herself.

On top of learning to be more okay with her body, Neve learns to be more confident and to stand up for herself. You can actually see her changing before Neve realizes. She starts calling people out for treating her poorly and refusing to be a doormat. It’s so satisfying emotionally when Neve and her evil sister-in-law finally talk. The character development in this book is A+.

The one thing I wasn’t that wild about was William. I hated him immediately, because he mostly seems to stay good friends with Neve so he can get her to send him things from Britain (and I don’t think he was paying for the no doubt quite dear shipping) and so that she will read over his work. He’s awful. In this sort of romance, it’s always so painful waiting for the point where the heroine drops a really good guy (who is giving her endless orgasms btw) to try to make it happen with her dream dude. Manning puts a slight spin on this, but I still wish Neve had been able to realize it earlier.

Now I want to read a whole bunch more Sarra Manning because that was so excellent. Neve’s character arc is amazing and powerful, and I just want to hug her (and maybe borrow Max for a bit).

Favorite Quote:

This was her body and she had to stop giving it such a hard time.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

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