Olivia Dade bursts onto the scene in this delightfully fun romantic comedy set in the world of fanfiction, in which a devoted fan goes on an unexpected date with her celebrity crush, who’s secretly posting fanfiction of his own.
Marcus Caster-Rupp has a secret. While the world knows him as Aeneas, the star of the biggest show on TV, Gods of the Gates, he’s known to fanfiction readers as Book!AeneasWouldNever, an anonymous and popular poster. Marcus is able to get out his own frustrations with his character through his stories, especially the ones that feature the internet’s favorite couple to ship, Aeneas and Lavinia. But if anyone ever found out about his online persona, he’d be fired. Immediately.
April Whittier has secrets of her own. A hardcore Lavinia fan, she’s hidden her fanfiction and cosplay hobby from her “real life” for years—but not anymore. When she decides to post her latest Lavinia creation on Twitter, her photo goes viral. Trolls and supporters alike are commenting on her plus-size take, but when Marcus, one half of her OTP, sees her pic and asks her out on a date to spite her critics, she realizes life is really stranger than fanfiction.
Even though their first date is a disaster, Marcus quickly realizes that he wants much more from April than a one-time publicity stunt. And when he discovers she’s actually Unapologetic Lavinia Stan, his closest fandom friend, he has one more huge secret to hide from her.
With love and Marcus’s career on the line, can the two of them stop hiding once and for all, or will a match made in fandom end up prematurely cancelled?
CAN THIS BOOK NOT? To be quite honest, I loved every aspect of this book and found a new author to look out for. Marcus and April are absolutely adorkable, and reading from their perspectives made my heart ache in the BEST of ways. Whether it’s because of April’s strong exterior/soft interior persona, or Marcus’s insecurities and fake celeb personality, these characters have really struck my heart. I love them both individually, and I love how they are as a couple. Full of sparkling wit and fun modern references, SPOILER ALERT pays homage to fandom culture through a romance between a fanfiction-writing celebrity and his beta-reading writer friend and fan. Let the fun begin!
The book starts with both April and Marcus finishing their last days at their job. For April, it’s moving from field work as a geologist to something more office-friendly (and hopefully with a more healthy work environment where she can actually be herself). For Marcus, it’s finishing his filming of his TV show Gods of the Gates, which is a Greek mythology fantasy with Game of Thrones energy in its following base. At the end of the day, April writes her Gods of the Gates fanfic with the community she’s in, including Marcus’s internet persona. Neither uses real names. When April transitions jobs, she finds the courage to post a cosplay online and immediately gets fatphobic comments. Because Marcus is such a kind soul, he asks her out on Twitter (totally fanfic worthy) and finds out she’s his beta reader during their date! Here’s the thing: he doesn’t really want her to find out…
Somehow, through fandom, he’d discovered who he was. His own interests. His own talents and possibilities, after decades of pretending to be someone he wasn’t, believe he was someone he wasn’t.
April is just awesome, hands down. She’s a really strong and capable woman who knows her worth despite body insecurities – a lot of which came from her parents’ pressure growing up. And honestly… I empathize with April so much. Sometimes it’s hard to love yourself when the people who are supposed to be rooting for you are trying to change YOU, as a person. This extends back to her previous romantic relationships as well. I told you April was strong though, right? In SPOILER ALERT, she recognizes that being fat doesn’t define her as a person, talks out about her experience with fatphobia in the fandom community, and seeks healthy relationships that don’t include fat-shaming. Go her!!
Marcus, on the other hand, has major golden retriever energy. During interviews, he pretends to be dim-witted so the spotlight isn’t on him (he’s super humble as well! OKAY softie??). This stems from his childhood of disappointing his prep school parents when he didn’t exactly have a learning curve due to his dyslexia. To cope, he put up a light-hearted facade of someone who doesn’t know/doesn’t care about a lot of things… which he actually does! It’s a protective mechanism for him, and one that April sees through (even if his co-workers and parents can’t). Dade’s execution of April and Marcus learning more about the other and becoming vulnerable is just spot-on. While the pacing may seem a bit fast, I’m also like, “When sparks fly like that… take advantage!”
‘But I want to know YOU. Marcus Caster-Rupp, not Aeneas. I want to know YOUR story. I’m attracted to YOU. Because what’s hidden, what’s real, is always more interesting and important to me than appearances of performances.’
Marcus and April’s romantic relationship is just so sweet and soft and lovely and loving. I love how they’re perceptive of each other’s feelings, and their open communication; I love how Marcus NEVER fat shames April and loves her body; I love how April can see past Marcus’s fake personality and coaxes his actual personality out of him; I love how they both love knowledge and are always learning things and are kind of dorks. Something about their relationship brings all the butterflies out in me.
Finally, their friendships top off the story. Aprils slowly finds her fandom people, while Marcus also has his own support through close co-workers. The small bits of fanfic are also a delightful addition to the main story. Overall, if you’re looking for a contemporary romance that will make you laugh and smile from both witty dialogue and swoon-worthy interactions, then spoiler alert: you’re going to love this one. I know I did!
fatphobic language, estranged parents
Thank you Harper Collins and Netgalley for the review copy!
What are some fandoms that you’re in? Do you have a great community within that fandom? Let me know your thoughts!