Review: Muscles & Monsters – Ashley Bennett
by Ashley Bennett
Series: Leviathan Fitness #1
Publication Date: May 27, 2022
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Leviathan Fitness is known for monsters, muscles, and wolven who rescue damsels in distress.
After a wedding cake catastrophe, local decorator Tegan finds herself being helped by a solid wall of fur and fangs named Atlas. She’s never met anyone like him and finds herself enamored by his wolfish charm. After their sweet encounter, Atlas invites her to his gym anytime she needs his cake lifting services.
Tegan decides that instead- she wants to lift the cakes herself. She signs up for a membership with Leviathan Fitness, determined to build her strength.
Primal desires emerge as Atlas and Tegan test just how much their new love can lift— and if there are any limits to what monsters and humans can do.
Muscles & Monsters is book one in the Leviathan Fitness series. Each book will center around the gym and feature a different monster pairing.
This is like one of those cupcakes that looks absolutely gorgeous but the frosting to cake ratio is way off. The cover is adorable, the premise is cute, but there wasn’t quite enough substance there for me.
After Tegan fumbles a wedding cake and Atlas comes to her rescue, she’s fascinated by the muscly wolven (basically a human/werewolf mashup). Atlas also can’t get the curvy human off his mind. It’s not just insta-lust but insta-love, and the speed with which they went from meeting to hooking up to declaring it true love gave me whiplash.
“I’m here every day. I can help keep you accountable.”
“Oh yeah? You’d do that for me?” I laughed and batted my eyelashes at him. I wondered if he offered that to everyone that was signing up. This was his business after all.
“One hundred percent. If you have goals, we’ll get you there.” What if my goal was to have him on top of me? Could we get there, Atlas?”
The heroine is curvy and for the most part happy with her body. She signs up for the gym nominally in order to build more arm strength (no more dropping cakes!), but in reality she just wants to spend more time with Atlas. Atlas, on the other hand, has an internal monologue that’s initially 75% about how ripped he is. The truth is, though, that he has a lot of insecurity over his body – and a lot of negative self-talk – that was exacerbated by his toxic ex-girlfriend, a cardboard cutout villain who’s easily flummoxed by Tegan, who’s team body positivity. While I liked that it’s the super fit hero (instead of the curvy heroine) who’s dealing with disordered eating, this part of the plot felt a bit like a mess to me. Maybe it’s because I have personal experience with it, but I didn’t feel like we got the appropriate amount of pushback against Atlas’ thought patterns (“cheat meals,” worries about not exercising enough after eating cupcakes, etc) or really any sense of healing for him, other than Tegan accepting him for who he is.
Besides the evil ex, a little anti-monster rhetoric is the only conflict in the book. There’s very little backstory about, well, anything, other than that monsters began integrating into the town in the past year. Instead there’s lots of mildly kinky sex scenes (with props for non-UTI-inducing use of icing!) and some full-moon-induced shenanigans, though I have to admit Tegan calling him “wolf daddy” made me snort my drink up my nose, which was probably not the author’s intention. There were some pretty decent consent conversations beforehand, though.
Overall, 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3. Overall, it missed the mark for me with not enough character development or backstory. There is something adorable about a hero who can’t stop his tail from wagging every time he sees the heroine, though!
Content notes: View Spoiler »fatmisia, restricted eating, toxic relationship (in the past), pain play involving blood « Hide Spoiler