Fat Chance by Terry Campbell
Another old book that has been reissued (self-pub) and is available as an ebook.
Lindsey Michaels is a slightly overweight (more like just well-rounded in a womanly way) paralegal whose wimpy lawyer boyfriend has talked her into helping him expose a weight-loss scam. Kenny, the lawyer, thinks uncovering the scam will be his ticket to local political office. Lindsey is willing to help, but secretly hopes that FRAT (Fat Removal and Transplant Institute) is for real and will solve her weight problem and get her off the endless diet cycle. After all, they promise weight loss without diet or exercise—just have your fat liposuctioned off and transplanted to an overly skinny person who wants to gain weight. Uh-huh, right.
FRAT is indeed a fake, but not in the way Lindsey or Kenny think. Hal Randall, the supposed plastic surgeon in charge of the FRAT clinic/spa, is actually a psychiatrist testing a behavior modification program secretly funded by the Department of Defense. When Lindsey and all the other clients arrive for their multi-week stay at FRAT, they find themselves eating Wasa bread and carrots and exercising to the oldies, supposedly to get them healthy for the liposuction. Lindsey is too feisty and smart-mouthed to take this lying down, and spends a lot of time storming into Dr. Randall’s office to complain. The fact that Lindsey and Hal fall in instant lust the moment they set eyes on each other does complicate matters. Hal is determined not to cross the patient/doctor line, no matter how much he wants to, so he claims that his assistant (who is actually a gay psychiatrist whose possessive significant other is a local judge) is his wife. Lindsey doesn’t fool around with married men, so tries to ignore or run from the attraction between them. But things like sheltering together in a small closet during a Texas tornado tend to bring them together. Then there are all the chats Dr. Hal has to have with patient Lindsey about the fact that she and her roommate Hilda are the only two people in the program not losing weight. (The pizzas and barbequed ribs they have smuggled in to them every night might just be the explanation there.)
There are various other plot complications, such as the hate/love relationship between Lindsey’s boyfriend and her best friend, and the arrival of Hal’s arch-nemesis to undermine the program. And Lindsey has to try to save Hal from the scheme she is part of.
This is a quick and amusing read. Lindsey is funny and her interactions with boyfriend, best friend, roommate and doctor are all enjoyable. Being quite overweight myself, I could identify with her feelings about her body and diet. However, I never really felt engaged by the story or involved with Lindsey and Hal. I think that too much was crammed into too few pages, so that emotions and behavior and actions did not have time to develop believably. Things happened too fast, motivations were never clear. This story would have been much better if it had twice the length to unfold. Or else keep it this short but eliminate some of the subplots and secondary characters, to leave room for the main action.