Marcus Caster-Rupp has a secret. The world may know him as Aeneas, star of the biggest show on television, but fanfiction readers call him something else: Book!AeneasWouldNever. Marcus gets out his frustrations with the show through anonymous stories about the internet’s favorite couple, Aeneas and Lavinia. But if anyone discovered his online persona, he’d be finished in Hollywood.
April Whittier has secrets of her own. A hardcore Lavinia fan, she’s long hidden her fanfic and cosplay hobbies from her “real life”—but not anymore. When she dares to post her latest costume creation on Twitter, her plus-size take goes viral. And when Marcus asks her out to spite her internet critics, truth officially becomes stranger than fanfiction.
On their date, Marcus quickly realizes he wants more from April than a one-time publicity stunt. But when he discovers she’s Unapologetic Lavinia Stan, his closest fandom friend, he has one more huge secret to keep 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?
All the gushing things you’re hearing about this story are true. This lovely book checks so many boxes for me—positive fat rep *check*, fandom/fan fiction as a major plot point *check*, awesome romance *check*, great secondary characters/found family *check*. If any of those things sound good to you, definitely read Spoiler Alert!
When they “meet”, Marcus is getting to a place where he needs to make a decision on how he’s going to present himself to the world going forward—be real or continue on his current path. April is just starting to take steps to be real in her world and not hide aspects of her life from people she knows. The juxtaposition of where these two characters were at emotionally to start really worked for me but at the same time they weren’t at the same place for much of the book and like human beings, their emotional baggage led to misunderstandings and trust issues that were at times gut-wrenching for me to read. My stomach was in knots in the lead up to a big reveal which was going to lead to the dark moment just ugh, my heart!
I love April’s bravery and self-confidence. Marcus is so kind and just wants to be respected and a good person. I got a kick out of their individual realizations of “oh crap, I’m so attracted to him/her. That’s inconvenient.” They are just super sexy together. Their reconciliation (thank you, Olivia Dade, for making the dark moment brief!) was cute and satisfying. I can’t wait to get more of Alex (Marcus’ best friend) and Lauren in the next book and I want more of April’s co-workers and the fan fic writers.
The romance is great and all but I also want to talk about the incredible cover art for this book. So cute! And it inspired fabulous cosplay by @PacificEater on Twitter. And the structure is something else too. Dade created a whole world with this book—a whole book series and TV show to build a fleshed out fandom around including snippets of fan fiction between chapters and a convention. And references to Marcus’ film career lead to glimpses of scripts from some of his movies. I love the attention to detail that went into this book that made it just a next level experience for me.
I love the passionate deep dives and how just one phrase or line can inspire so many fics and think pieces in fandom. I’m barely into fan fiction/fandom stuff and not into Game of Thrones or the like (Schitt’s Creek is my jam for fan fiction and I just read fic) but I was easily able to follow what was happening so I wouldn’t worry if the fandom/fan fiction is holding you back from reading this book. I’m very excited for Alex and Lauren’s book next summer!
Content warnings: fat shaming (not by main characters), emotionally abusive parents, dyslexia diagnosed later in life so traumatic childhood/teenage years referenced
You can buy a copy here.