Such a fresh and distinct read! There are a lot of things I loved about it, but this book’s biggest downfall is its pacing. I went from “WOW, this is awesome” to “this is so cute” to “….how are there STILL 4 hours left in this audiobook?” It’s wholeheartedly different than anything I’ve read this year – in a good way – yet WAY too drawn out, losing its impact along the way. As someone who watched the entirety of GOT, I loved the tongue in cheek references to the show and appreciated some of the more subtle jokes. I also appreciated the love story, which features a traditionally handsome guy falling for a woman who redefines what it means to be beautiful. The love story is endearing, honest, and real, with a few elements that are like a fantasy come to life. And speaking of… don’t let that adorable cover fool you, this is a slow burn to steamy romance with some decidedly adult content.
The story follows April, a woman who is just starting to love everything about herself. April’s got some hangups about her weight, but her confidence has come a long way – thanks in part to her involvement in the fan fiction community over the last few years. Bonding with like-minded people online has made her shine, and there’s one guy in particular who has helped along the way. So when April finds herself on a social media-initiated date with one of the actors from the show she writes about, it both IS and ISN’T a dream come true. Marcus is beautiful but shallow, and that’s not what she’s looking for. But when Marcus begins to open up and show a different, deeper side of himself, April has no idea that she’s starting to fall for him… all over again.
First of all, I loved Marcus. He is such a kind, compassionate, and loving hero. Yes, he kept his secret way, WAY too long, but I loved his vulnerability. He’s a great match for April, and had the patience to stand by her even when she didn’t make it easy. I liked April about 75% of the time. She’s a bit of a contradiction, being so confident in some things yet so insecure in others – and I get that, to a certain extent. I DON’T get why she’s so confident in the bedroom but falls apart at the mention of the gym, for example. Lack of communication and insecurities aside, this still would’ve been one of my favorite reads of the year if not for the pacing. It’s not so much the length as it is the speed at which these two get together, so there’s a definite lull in the middle. I listened to the audio version, and it’s almost 13 hours long. That means I listened to it over the course of three workdays, and became a little more detached with each passing day. Which is a shame, because there are SO MANY awesome components to this story. Had it been a little shorter, or paced differently, this easily would’ve been one of the most unique, interesting stories I’ve read all year. I still liked it a lot and would not hesitate to read more from the author, but this could’ve really sparkled with different editing.
🎧 Audio note: There’s a lone female narrator for this one, but I liked her voice and she also does a great job distinguishing between April and Marcus’ characters with different tones. It’s well done and easy to listen to during the workday, though the online messages probably would’ve read a lot better on the page. Though this does get steamy in a few spots, the vast majority of the book is just fine to listen to at work – there are repeated sexual references (especially relating to the fan fiction), but it doesn’t focus on the steam and there’s nothing too explicit until the back half. The biggest downfall to the audio version is the length. It’s too long to finish in one workday, and may even run into three if you get interrupted often enough. The length was definitely cumbersome, and probably the longest in my library.
Bookshop PB: https://bookshop.org/a/18118/9780063005549
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. 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?
Bookshop PB: https://bookshop.org/a/18118/9780063005549
About the Author:
Olivia Dade grew up an undeniable nerd, prone to ignoring the world around her as she read any book she could find. Her favorites, though, were always, always romances. As an adult, she earned an M.A. in American history and worked in a variety of jobs that required the donning of actual pants: Colonial Williamsburg interpreter, high school teacher, academic tutor, and (of course) librarian. Now, however, she has finally achieved her lifelong goal of wearing pajamas all day as a hermit-like writer and enthusiastic hag. She currently lives outside Stockholm with her patient Swedish husband, their whip-smart daughter, and the family’s ever-burgeoning collection of books.
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