Finders Keepers
by Karin Kallmaker

Bella Books, Inc., 2007. ISBN 978-1594930720.
Reviewed by Cheri Rosenberg
Posted on 11/15/2007

Fiction: Romance

If you long to read a life-affirming, feel-good-about-the-body-you've-got tale (including information and motivation for improving your lifestyle choices), then Karin Kallmaker's Finders Keepers is for you. The icing on the permissible small sliver of cake is the sexy and truly romantic love story. Finders Keepers is deservedly a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award 2007 and Karin Kallmaker is truly a gifted romance writer. This author not only spices it up in the bedroom for a satisfying and calorie-burning experience, but she manages to educate her readers without their realizing it. For example: "Even though [Marissa] didn't want the large brownie and the whipped mocha with real sugar that Ocky [her friend and business partner] was going to consume, she still felt a pang of resentment over the matter of genetics. It wasn't fair but whining didn't burn calories" (p. 10). Most women who weren't born with a speedy metabolism would wholeheartedly agree.

Marissa Chabot, a computer geek and vested partner in an on-line computer dating service, is funny, loveable, and round, which means there's more to love. With self-deprecating humor, Marissa soothes her soul through M&Ms and Oreos, self-talk, and letter compositions to the key people in her life. Despite being thirty-four-years old, and feeling like a "fawn caught in her mother's Mack truck headlights" (p. 108), Marissa is determined to continue to find things she likes about herself, no matter what her mother thinks. This is not an easy feat for a woman with low self-esteem, a propensity for weight gain, and a huge appetite for food, love, and acceptance.

When a pleasure cruise to Tahiti ends in a nightmare, Marissa finds herself shipwrecked with a tall, dark, gorgeous woman intent on saving the world, or at the very least, Marissa's life. In a magical, whirlwind romance on a tropical island, Marissa sees herself in a whole different light through Linda Bartok's eyes. Linda Bartok is beautiful; she breaks men's hearts; she can get any woman she wants; and yet, she struggles with her past, which threatens to stand in the way of a meaningful and lasting relationship. It's because of Marissa that Linda is determined to fight her demons before claiming her heart's desire. Who would have thought that a shipwreck, fate, and finding your soul mate could change your life forever?

So begins a journey of discovering the path to happiness. Marissa vows, "I don't want to be a helpless fat chick for the rest of my life" (42). Learning the hard way, through a breaking heart, sweat, hunger, and tears, Marissa figures out what is truly important on her way to a healthy and happy lifestyle—and the arms of the woman she loves. In a journey worth taking with a woman who never gives up, even in the face of adversity, Finders Keepers satisfies the hunger in all of us to be loved for who we are and not for what we look like.

Karin Kallmaker once again has given us food for thought through extensive research on the current theories about dieting and exercise. In addition, we get to enjoy two admirable women's tales of triumph in the face of critical mothers, the skewed importance of beauty, and the world at large, in a truly inspirational novel. Even women who've never had issues with their weight will want to read Finders Keepers because Kallmaker has a way of depicting emotions that we can all relate to and learn from. Finders Keepers is truly a find that this reviewer is going to keep and recommend.

Karin Kallmaker is the Goldie, Lammy and Alice B. award winning author of more than twenty romances and fantasy-science fiction novels. Short stories have appeared in anthologies from Alyson, Circlet and Haworth. Her writing career began with the venerable Naiad Press and continues with Bella Books.

Her most recent published novel is Finders Keepers. A joint anthology of erotica with Radclyffe, In Deep Waters, is in editing and due for release this fall. She is currently working on The Kiss That Counted and Forge of Virgins.

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