My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Spoiler Alert is the first book in the eponymous series by Olivia Dade. As someone who used to write fanfic, and also still presently loves cosplay, the premise of this story really hooked me. This book made me smile a lot and also made me cry at least once. I’d recommend you pick it up if you like nerdy contemporary romances.
Our hero Marcus plays the lead character Aeneas on the insanely popular tv series Gods of the Gates. When he’s not filming, he tends to put on a “Perfectly Groomed Golden Retriever” persona even though he’s actually quite intelligent, kind, and deep. In order to vent his frustrations with his character in the show (thanks to inept showrunners) he writes fix-it Aeneas+Lavinia fic as the anonymous and popular fanfiction author Book!AeneasWouldNever. However, if word got out about his writing hobby, he would probably be immediately fired from the show.
Our confident and plus-sized heroine April is a geologist by day and a hardcore Lavinia fan by night. She is just starting a new job, which allows her to stop hiding her fanfiction and cosplay hobbies from her “real life.” She is so proud of a Lavinia cosplay she finishes that she posts it on Twitter, and among the many replies and comments to that thread, she is asked out on a date by Marcus.
Their first date doesn’t go especially smoothly, though it’s definitely not just a publicity stunt. And then Marcus realizes that April is actually UnapologeticLaviniaStan, his closest fandom friend and fellow beta reader. But if he tells her who he really is on their shared Lavineas (Lavinia + Aeneas) server, he could lose both her and his career.
CW: discussions of fatphobia and associated issues, childhood trauma bleeding into adult lives, toxic family relationships, emotional abuse
Slight spoilers: I really appreciated seeing Marcus’s and April’s different paths to establishing boundaries with their respective parents. I also loved that both of our main characters are slightly older than typical rom-com leads (Marcus is 40 and April is 36), and that they both excel in their chosen fields. Not only does the book have great fat representation, but it also combats ableism since the biggest part of Marcus’ story is the fact that he was diagnosed as dyslexic as an adult.
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My rating: 4 of 5 stars