Meet Cassaundra Keaton, an adult orphan raised in the foster system. She’s overweight and struggling to survive in a world that makes her feel like she can never fit in. Follow her journey as she learns to trust and love herself, and watch her grow as she finds love. But will an issue from her past rise up to ruin her new life?
“It has to happen at some point,” my inner confidence argues. “Screw it, take a chance.”
“You know what? Actually, I’d like that,” I laugh, watching Drew’s mouth fall open in surprise. Taking his hand, I lead him to the bathroom.
“You sure about this?” he asks.
“Yeah,” I answer, turning to look at him. “Are you?” Drew drops my hand, and for a split second, I’m afraid he was just teasing about the shower. Then he shuts the bathroom door, kicks off his shoes, and grins. “Oh no,” he says, spreading his arms wide. “I can’t seem to undress without help.”
“Ha! You didn’t even try!” Heat fills my face. I’ve never stripped anyone but myself before.
“And risk injuring myself more?” He shakes his head. “I think I’m going to have to report you to the nursing board, Miss Keaton.”
Just do it. You can’t live in fear.
“Well, we can’t have that, now can we? Surely, sir, there must be something I can do to appease your temper,” I tease, placing a hand gently on his chest, looking up at him as innocently as possible.
His breath catches, his eyes widening. “Well, I’m sure if you try really hard, we can think of something.”
It takes us forever to get him out of his shirt, both of us in turn laughing and groaning as we figure out how to get the shirt off without hurting him. Catching sight of the healing incisions on his chest, I look up at him.
“Can you get those wet?”
“Yep, sure can. They’re glued or something, so I’m good as long as I’m not stressing the glue. Water is fine,” he assures me, reaching out to slowly lift the hem of my yoga top.
“Oh,” I whisper, heat beginning to leave my face and pool instead between my thighs, as he steps back with my shirt in his hands, taking in my ugly sport bra, struggling to keep control of my breasts.
“Does that work?” he asks quietly, lifting my chin and urging me to meet his eyes.
“The, um, the bra?” I ask stupidly.
“Yeah. Does it help in your classes? Because it doesn’t look comfortable.” He reaches toward me again, flicking one of the many hook closures down the front. It pops open easily, leaving the bra with a “v” neck appearance.
“Um, it helps, some,” I answer, blushing as he flicks another hook open. He works his way down the front of the bra, and though the fabric spreads, it doesn’t fall away. I swallow, gasping, standing helplessly as he cups my breasts, spreading the bra with his fingers until it suddenly springs free.
I am absolutely 100% in love with Brandi Kennedy! I once was just as damaged as Cass. I took the words, looks and attitudes of those around me and projected it onto myself. Cass has been hurt by the people in her life and has always felt that no one saw past the extra weight on her body to the woman that she was.
When she meets Drew Kingsley she is amazed that he thinks she is pretty and she waits for the shoe to drop off. She has been brutalized by her foster brother, Rick for so long that she can’t imagine that a man will truly want her. She is astonished that Drew is what he says he is and wants her like no other.
I can’t begin to thank Brandi enough. She has written the book that I have imagined reading a thousand times before. A true telling of a plus sized woman who knows she has faults but finds the strength to overcome them. With the help of a good man who loves her for the person she is, Cass becomes a wonderful well-rounded (no pun, intended) person. Like Cass, I was lucky to find my Drew Kingsley and married him.
To the plus-sized girls, don’t ever give anyone control of you. My husband taught me that those who are slinging hateful words at you are more than likely jealous of you. Let it roll off and don’t give them the power or satisfaction. I can’t wait for the next in this series by this fantastic author!
Rated 5 Kisses
Brandy (Romancebookworm’s Reviews) I love how you describe yourself on your blog. Every day we struggle to maintain our desire to grow and learn but to be true to ourselves. Do you find it difficult to maintain a balance between family time and writing time?
Brandi (Author)I do struggle sometimes, to find the right balance of time between family and writing. There are days when I want to just play with my kids, and then for a little while, I’m resentful of that inner need to write. I get resentful of these characters always busy in my head and tugging me away from the puzzles and the legos. But then I remember that there’s no rush, you know, and that this is why I love it … I don’t HAVE to do it today. I don’t have to do it tomorrow either. Especially with being self-published, I’m my own boss. I can put out a book a month, or a book a year. I can go entirely at my own pace. Right now, my kids are 9 and 3 so they need me, and they won’t always be here. So I do try to spend a good deal of time putting the writing aside and giving them more of myself. Someday, though, they’ll both be in school, and not long after that, they’ll be gone and living their own lives. That’s when I’ll write like a fiend, to get through that abundance of quiet time.
Brandy: I love how you put it, “I am simply “from” where I’m “from”. As your writing takes off, do you find that it is difficult to be just you or have you developed a different persona for your writing life?
Brandi: First, let me say that I love that you took the time to see that. It’s no fancy work or anything and hardly very original, as it’s from an old meme that used to circle the net, sort of a writing prompt that I fell in love with. But it’s such an adequate way to express myself and where I grew up, the memories that reside in that place where I spent my childhood. I’d like to think that for the most part, I’m still true to that girl who grew up on the side of the river, in a small town with a small but fiery family and a small circle of friends that were closer than blood. Still, that was a cocky girl who was full of fancy and dreams … I’d like to think that I’m a more mature version now, maybe a bit more professional. At least, sometimes.
Brandy: I always like to ask my authors during interview if they could tell us 3 things about themselves that might not be common knowledge.
Brandi: Hmm, you want secrets, then, do you? Let’s see what I can give. I think it’s best we start with spiders. They horrify me, Really though, it’s pretty much anything smaller than me that has more legs than I do. Spiders, scorpions, bees, roaches, rats. I’m scared of pretty much all of it. Secret number two? I’m afraid to go outside after dark. Not because I’m afraid of the dark, but because I’m terrified of who or what might be in the dark. I don’t even take my dog out at night without calling someone first, so that I’m not “alone” in the yard at night. Number three? My biggest fear is Alzheimer’s. I’d rather die any sort of horrific death, even a painful, lonely one … I can’t imagine anything worse than forgetting myself, my children, my family. I can’t imagine knowing that every day I spend on the earth is one that renders me more and more helpless, and even that basic knowledge slips away as I fall into oblivion. I value my memories, even the bad ones, so greatly, I just couldn’t imagine having them all slip away. And having a terribly flighty mind as it is, just makes the fear that much worse. Every time I lose my keys or forget where I parked, I’m convinced I’ve got Alzheimer’s.
Brandy: Are your girls excited about the direction that Mom’s writing is going? I am a mom of boys and they are always curious to what authors I am reviewing for and how the blog is going.
Brandi: Well, the youngest is really more pouty than anything. She’s spent three years with a mother who had no job, nothing to do but mother her, because I’ve been a stay at home mom for as long as I’ve been a mom. So it’s been an adjustment for them. And my little one, now she hears me regularly say, “You’ll need to sit and play on your own for a little while so Mommy can work, and then I’ll play that with you when I’m finished.” I think my older daughter has adjusted better and is pretty happy about it most days though. She’s always really excited when my books come to me in the mail and she can hold them. I don’t let her read them, of course, but she loves seeing herself mentioned in the dedications, and she likes that there’s real proof of why I’m always tapping away on the computer. She’s been after me to write her a tween series.
Brandy: was raised in the south and I noted that you crochet and knit. Is that something you have taught your daughters? My mom taught me how to do blankets but it never really stuck! LOL!
Brandi: Well, I’ve always been one of those “crafty” people. I wanted to learn to crochet as a child, and I learned from my grandmother on my father’s side. Eventually I forgot, but it wasn’t something I ever let go of. So after a while, I re-taught myself, then I taught myself to knit. I also know a few basic embroidery stitches. I can’t sew though; for some reason my stitches always fall apart. If I had to have a favorite craft though, it’s furniture building. There’s nothing that makes you feel powerful like standing back and looking at a piece of furniture you designed and built with your own hands. Someday my house will be chock-full of things I built on my own.
Brandy: I love that you brought an overweight character to life. As a plus-sized woman and author myself, I find that it gets old having the same type of female characters. Did you find that it was difficult to bring life to Cass?
Brandi: Thanks for loving Cass like that, she needed it. You know, I think a lot of the plus-sized community is tired of that. So many of these books are full of perfect men and women. I know we read to escape reality, but for me, I need enough reality to make the fantasy of a book seem livable. And for a plus-sized American woman, that usually means a little extra weight. Crooked boobs, dimpled hips, or tree-trunk thighs. We can’t all look like supermodels, but you know, we don’t all have to hate what we look like. The world is full of women in all sizes, and they can all be beautiful, from Tyra Banks to Melissa McCarthy. That actually made it easy to give life to Cass. Aside from the fact that she’s so much made up of parts of me, she’s a real woman already, so she wasn’t hard. She’s fat, she’s sensitive, she’s self-conscious, and she’s terrified of being rejected by the world over something as shallow as her appearance. Now tell me, who can’t relate to that?
Brandy: My grandmother was a foster parent for many years and I know how deep their fears and issues can go. Did you find that this was a difficult subject to write about?
Brandi: I knew a lot of kids growing up who were in foster homes, and I knew a lot of kids who had horrible childhoods. Through my school years, I knew abandoned kids, I knew unwanted kids, I knew beaten and abused kids. I knew raped and molested kids. It’s not hard for me to write about that kind of thing, because in so many ways, I’ve been there. I’ve experienced things some people wouldn’t make it through, and I’ve experience so much through the lives of the people who’ve walked in and out of my life over the years. It’s maybe hard to read about death, or drugs, or rape, or self-esteem and the temptation of suicide. But those are the things that make these characters real to us as readers; we need to relate to them in order to love them.
Brandy: Any thoughts or words of wisdom to pass on to other writers?
Brandi:Don’t quit. If you’re scared of writing a novel, work on a short story. If you can’t do that, work on a poem, or a paragraph. If you want to write, then write. Practice really does make perfect. And you do what you can, when you can, however you can. Because if it’s what you’re meant to do, you’ll have a passion for it, a burning need to see it and do it and have it be real. So you reach for that, and you keep trying. But don’t let that passion overtake your discipline. Don’t be lazy about it. Don’t skip the editing, or the proofreading. Don’t skimp on the effort, and don’t run from criticism. Accept it, grow from it. Otherwise, you can’t succeed in it. You need a strong heart and a thick skin. But you can develop that. If I did, anyone can.
Thank you so much, Brandi! It was amazing to talk to you and get to know you a little bit!
Brandi Kennedy is a romance novelist whose work centers on the contemporary set, sometimes with a playful twist of this or that as she toys with bits and pieces of other genres. She is the author of To Love A Selkie, which is a tragic romance with a twist of the fantasy element. She is also the author of the Kingsley Series, which is entirely contemporary and focuses on the romantic happenings of the fictional Kingsley family.
A woman of varied interests, Brandi loves photography, music of all kinds, knitting, crochet, and of course, mothering her two young daughters. Currently, she finds her home in the heart of Knoxville, Tennessee, among the mountains and the members of her extended family.