A Review of The Lightening Round by Bruce Stuart

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Title: The Lightening Round

Author: Bruce Stewart

Published: November 1, 2015

Genre: Literary / Women’s Fiction

~ Synopsis ~

Did you ever wonder what it’s like to dare to fall in love with someone who literally isn’t on your level?

The Lightening Round is a fast-paced novel brimming with colorful characters, sinister plots of intrigue and revenge, and over-the-top antics.

Hannah More, a single mom with weight issues, assumes that her longtime boyfriend, Luke Havitt, is about to propose marriage to her. Instead, he proposes that in order for Hannah to take their relationship to the next level, that she needs to join a gym and to lose weight. Hannah soon finds herself entering the Ultimate Level, a highly controversial yet incredibly sought after San Francisco “fitness experience” known for not only having the latest in technology and fashion, but also segregating all of its members based solely on their weight and fitness levels.

This snappy novel ultimately questions whether true love can survive two individuals from different levels. Even if those levels are only found at a gym.

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~ My Review ~

The Lightening Round is one of those books, which is incredibly hard to categorize. I must admit that I was expecting a sweet romance proving that there are no leagues or levels in love. That’s not exactly what I got. In the end I’d have to say that the novel is a cross between a satire and a romance. I think if the author had chosen to concentrate on satire or romance, the book would have worked better. Because – as much as I did like the story itself – the book in its entirety didn’t do it for me.

I liked Hannah despite not completely believing her character. She was cute and funny and completely off beat. I liked her growth throughout the novel as she lost weight and got her life together. I didn’t like that this growth resulted in her more and less neglecting her best friend, though, and I didn’t complete buy her character being entirely clueless about her love life. The relationship with her sister didn’t seem realistic either, especially considering the loss of her parents and her position as the older sister.

The gym – Ultimate Fitness – was too weird for words. A gym that prohibits members from different levels connecting with each outside the walls of the gym? And I just can’t believe that anyone would subject themselves to the hell of Level 1 (and I volunteered for the Army!). And what was with the overuse of acronyms? It was cute at first, but at some point it was overdone.  As a satire, the fitness experience known as Ultimate Fitness worked well. As a metaphor for the different leagues we as humans place ourselves in, it went a bit too far.

Despite its excesses, I did enjoy the story itself. With some editing, the story could be excellent. As is, there’s too much jumping around. Interactions between characters are not always believable nor do they feel genuine. The timeline stops and starts with flashbacks and background information provided at the strangest of times. The romance doesn’t feel genuine to me. Hannah is going about her life and all of a sudden she starts thinking oh I miss him so much. Huh? Why didn’t we get these romantic feelings/thoughts before?

With its unique story, The Lightening Round is definitely worth giving a try.

~ Excerpt ~

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Tonight out with Luke, I ate like a bird.” Hannah and Levreece both dusted off her filthy pink satin gown as they caught their breath on a bench fifty feet from where they had first started their journey.

Aiya.” Levreece blurted out a Mandarin expression for Oh, My God. He looked straight into Hannah’s bloodshot eyes. “Hannah, Lady Love. Your To Go bag survived the crash—kinda like one of those black boxes they have on airplanes. And, you know, I took the liberty of poking around inside it. Well, let me tell you, girlfriend. From what I saw in that there bag, the only bird you ate like tonight was one of those Raptors hanging around inside the Jurassic Park. The ones that can polish off a whole cow in a single serving and then they’re on to the really big eats.”

“I’m going to lose him.” Hannah put her face in her hands.

“And that’s a bad thing? Losing Luke Havitt is like finding out that a swarm of locusts that had been camping out in your apartment has finally gotten pissed off ‘cause you didn’t feed ‘em well enough and decided to move in with your nasty nosy neighbor across the hall. This guy’s a complete user. He’d steal the gold fillings out of his own mother’s teeth and sell ‘em back to her. And as a man who likes other men, I can’t for the life of me see what turns you on about this whiter-than-white airbrushed airhead with literally no ass. I swear when I look at him from behind I can’t tell where his back ends and his legs begin. Couldn’t you at least land a dude with some booty?” He jokingly stood up and wiggled his large behind.

The edges of Hannah’s mouth initially turned up from her friend’s humorous motions, but she quickly allowed her smile to fall to the ground as reality set in. “You’re one of my best friends in the whole world, Levreece. Please help me.”

~ About the Author ~

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Bruce Stuart is the founder of five previous books and is the founder of the popular serial fiction website, SerialTeller.com. The Lightening Round was previously seen in part as a serial on SerialTeller.com under the pseudonym K.T. Newman. Bruce lives and works in San Francisco.

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