Review | If the Dress Fits, Carla de Guzman

32328505If the Dress Fits is a fun, body positive romance and a delight to read. I love the realism of Martha’s complex relationship with her body. I like that she is fat, and not just ‘pleasantly plump’ or ‘curvy’, how she is happy about her weight but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t sometimes lie in bed and wish she was big like a plus-size model, whose curves always end up in the right places.

The sweet, bookish, animal-loving hero Max is just perfect. He’s a veterinarian, which made my animal loving cat mom heart go into a full-on swoon. He never goes anywhere without a book, he has a dog, and he even helped a giraffe give birth. How much do I love the sex scenes where Max worships her body kinda like Joe Manganiello does in that scene from Magic Mike XXL! (Okay, maybe it doesn’t quite happen exactly like that and my fantasies may have blurred together somewhat… 😉 ) While the sex scenes were hot, they also felt realistic. I like that Martha braces herself on her elbows and worries about collapsing her full weight on Max, and I absolutely LOVE how smoothly Max shifts their positions while still keeping their rhythm going.

I have all empathy as well for Martha’s long-ago crush on theatre guy Enzo, because who doesn’t love a theatre guy? Seriously, part of why I loved reading this book so much is that Martha has exactly the same taste in guys I do.

My main gripe is with the ending. After such a deliciously slow burn building up the relationship, the last 10% or so rushes through a series of plot points just to wrap things up. In contrast to the emotional complexity of Martha’s relationship with her body, there are a lot of emotional issues woven into her relationship with Max that were never quite given the space to resolve organically. A romantic rival for Max’s affections appears, disappears and reappears seemingly at random throughout the story, and while this did add tension in the beginning, a reappearance near the end was just confusing, as it did nothing to the plot.

A particularly frustrating scene near the end involved the discovery of an object, but its significance was barely even unpacked. As with the romantic rival, I just didn’t see the point of this plot device, and wish that the ending had been allowed to unfold with the same slow burn as the rest of the book. When a romance pulses with as much real emotion as Max and Martha’s, quick fix endings just don’t work.

There are other minor plot points as well that are brought up, but barely developed before being resolved somehow (e.g. the tensions in Regina and Enzo’s relationship, the emotional fallout of Tita Flora’s news for the whole Aguas clan).

Despite my frustrations with the ending and some of the minor plot points, I absolutely enjoyed If the Dress Fits. I’m always on the lookout for contemporary Filipino fiction, and am thrilled to have discovered this one. I love the build up of Max and Martha’s relationship, and would love to read more of their story.

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