Title: Spoiler Alert
Author: Olivia Dade
Publication Date: October 6, 2020
Age Range: Adult
Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance
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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?
TW/CW: fat shaming, cyberbullying, talk of disordered eating (not shown on-page), ableist language (in relation to dyslexia)
I would like to formally thank Bethany for putting this book on my radar.
This was such a fun, quick read that was able to tackle serious topics while still being able to make me laugh. I mentioned on Twitter, this book is competing with The Bromance Book Club (and series) for the spot as my all-time favorite romance book. You’ll have to wait for my favorites list at the end of the year to see if it did.
“She loved shiny things, always had. But he wasn’t a diamond. Just fool’s gold.”
So this book mostly follows April and Marcus, who end up going on a date after a photo of April cosplaying goes viral and Marcus defends her again a few assholes. But it’s also so much more than that. It’s clear that Dade understands fandom and fandom culture and was able to bring this to life throughout her book.
A more detailed plot follows April, a geologist, who, after moving to a new job, vows to be herself. She is tired of hiding who she is, so she begins to tell her friends that she is in the Gods of the Gates fandom and writes fanfiction for the show.
She also is building up the courage to show her friends in the fanfiction community what she looks like. Despite being confident with her body, she knows the fandom isn’t kind to plus-size people and is nervous to have her
face body out there.
April is close to another fanfiction writer, who goes by the name Book!AeneasWouldNever (best name ever), an anonymous popular poster that is angry with the direction the show went in after the writers ran out of books.
This anonymous poster is actually the star of the show, Marcus, who needs to remain anonymous or risk having his contract breached and can face anything from being fired from the show up to being sued in court (yikes).
When a tweet asks for fans to show their best cosplay, April decides to show off hers and ends up going viral. Unfortunately, Twitter is a vile cesspool, even in fiction, and some assholes tag Marcus in her photo, calling her names and alluding that he could never find her attractive (context: April’s cosplay was Marcus’s character’s love interest). Marcus, annoyed by the hate, and genuinely smitten with April’s picture, comments that he would have no issue with dating her and asks her out to dinner.
At first, she thinks it’s a joke, but decides to go to dinner with Marcus. At first, she’s put off by Marcus’s pretty boy act. Then she finds out that he puts on the act as a defense after an early interview gave fans the wrong idea about him. Finding herself falling for this new Marcus, April agrees to a second date and things progress from there.
Their relationship was so cute and so fun to read about. April and Marcus have a lot in common, due to the Gods of the Gate fandom, but also grow incredibly interested in each other’s separate interests. Unfortunately, Marcus hasn’t yet told April about him being Book!AeneasWouldNever.
This was probably the part of the book I liked the least. I know it’s a trope of the genre. I know April finding out the truth was going to be too far into their relationship and lead to things blowing up. But, I really wish that Marcus told April sooner than he did.
Don’t get me wrong, I TOTALLY get why Marcus hesitated on telling April. If his fanfic account was made public, his job was on the line and he could have faced legal issues. But as it’s pointed out to him, not telling April what’s up suggests he doesn’t trust her. And yeah, that’s not a good look. It didn’t result in me docking a star, but I did should “just tell her” way too many times while reading this and my dogs were starting to get concerned.
I did really enjoy how this book balanced the serious and light-hearted tone. We get a lot of the serious stuff early on and focus on two huge topics: ableism and dyslexia, and fat-shaming.
April is a fat main character and after years of battling snide comments and self-loathing, she has grown to love herself. Though, she knows there are still a lot of people that have an issue with her and her body and will use any opportunity to tell her, from friends, to lovers (post-coitus?!), to even her own family. When Marcus asks her out after some fans of the show were fat-shaming her, she wonders if he’s just going out with her as a PR stunt or if he can actually love her, curves and all.
Marcus on the other hand faces a lot of insecurity surrounding his dyslexia. As a kid, he struggles in school and ended up being homeschooled by his prep school teacher parents. That’s when his parents found out that it wasn’t the public school that was the problem, rather Marcus was the “problem.” It wasn’t until Marcus was in college that he finally found a name for what he was experiencing. Unfortunately, since his dyslexia was undiagnosed throughout his childhood, his parents used various punishments, including mild neglect, to try to force him to be a more disciplined academic.
Marcus developed the persona of the likable dunce after he botched an interview early in his career. Instead of coming out as someone who struggled with dyslexia and possibly being ostracized or pitied, he put on a new front that saved and defined his career.
Marcus and April both have strained relationships with their families and strain has shaped their adult lives. I really enjoyed how these relationships were handled. April at one point talked about how forgiveness isn’t owed, it’s earned, regardless of who is seeking forgiveness.
I feel like it’s so important to remind readers that toxic people are toxic, regardless if their family, friends, or strangers, and that you are allowed to put up boundaries to protect your own mental health. Just because they’re your parents doesn’t mean they’re owed a place in your life, especially if they are going to be harmful (intentional or not).
“Please tell me people who look like us can have happy endings.”
As someone who has dabbled in fandom culture since a young age, I love how it was represented in this book. Between online fan communities to cons, this book was one of the most authentic portrayals I think I ever read.
I personally don’t dabble in fanfic, but the excerpts of the fics in this book were fantastic. I liked how the spanned the gamut of book-only to film-only, to book-film hybrid. And the tags were great to read.
Despite the identity secrecy being a huge plot point, I still adored this book. I flew through it so quickly, craving more time with the characters. There were also some steamy scenes that were absolutely fantastic to read.
If you want a sweet story that’s a love letter to fandom, I highly recommend picking this one up!