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A woman struggling with external self-image finds that inner self-awareness is the true key to permanent, meaningful reshaping, in Destiny Allison’s unusual, memorable true story, The Romance Diet – Body Image and the Wars We Wage on Ourselves.

Happily married and successful, metal sculptor Destiny Allison was forced to give up her chosen profession when an unexpected health disaster—damage to her spine— took its toll. A year later, after fighting with pain and subsequent weight gain, she was further devastated to learn that her cholesterol was dangerously high. Fortunately, she found support from her husband, Steve, a thriving entrepreneur. Having gained a lot of unnecessary pounds himself, and concerned about his wife’s declining health, he agreed to go on a diet with her. At first, it didn’t seem too difficult; the couple would simply order or prepare one meal and split it. They took up dancing at nightclubs, reviving lost youthfulness as the pounds disappeared. The exercise made their bodies more attractive; their sex life regained its energy.

Gradually, though, the process began to fray. Destiny, now running her own business in cooperation with her spouse, wanted more credit for the work she did but began to notice that clients and colleagues always preferred to do business with the man. Steve, innocently, basked in the attention and took his superior status for granted. His wife began to suspect, was sure, that he was having an affair. As their relationship fractured, it became increasingly difficult, sometimes impossible, to communicate. Destiny felt that she was the one always conceding and sacrificing. Things came to a head when she was molested by a man in one of the bars where the couple liked to show off their sometimes suggestive dancing feats. The incident brought back memories of a rape that happened when she was still in her teens, and Steve’s attempts to console her turned into a shared nightmare.

Told with utter frankness, The Romance Diet reveals, what Allison describes as “…my personal hell, my deepest shame.” Women will recognize and learn from the many ways that this bold, feminist autobiographer examines her many rationalizations, her self-abnegating strategies for getting along with men, and most importantly, readers will share Destiny’s growing sense of pride and empowerment as she learns that these tactics are not necessary, either in casual social context or in the center of a hard-won, long term, committed relationship.

Author (Shaping Destiny, Pipe Dreams, Bitter Root) Allison has developed her artistry as a well-practiced wordsmith, but just as importantly, here she demonstrates her ability as an explorer of that perilous country, the mind. She and Steve lost weight, nearly lost their marriage, and were able to recoup the companionship and mutual sense of responsibility that marriage requires without the extra pounds—all in all, a truly remarkable accomplishment.

In this highly emotive memoir, a couple’s shared commitment to improvement takes longer and hurts more than originally planned, but the result is a new, better and brighter promise—one that can endure in Destiny Allison’s The Romance Diet.