Spoiler Alert (2020) by Olivia Dade is the fat-positive heterosexual romance I never knew that I needed to read!
Marcus is an actor on the most popular show in the U.S., Gods of the Gates, clearly inspired by Game of Thrones. He plays Aeneas, and takes his acting seriously. learning swordwork and horseback riding like he’d been doing it his entire life. Most of the world thinks he’s dim but pretty, a well-groomed golden retriever. He’s afraid to let his true self be known by more than just a few people. Secretly, though, he runs an Aeneas/Lavinia fanfic server and writes fanfiction as Book!AeneasWouldNever so that he can express his frustration with the showrunners’ mangling of the book plots without violating his contract.
April is a geologist by day, starting a job with the state environmental agency so she has time in the evenings and on weekends to work on her Gods of the Gates cosplay and fanfiction as Unapologetic Lavinia Stan. (Ulsie) She has become virtual friends with Book!AeneasWouldNever (BAWN), and they beta-read each other’s fiction before posting. As the book begins, April wants to integrate her “real” life and her virtual life as Unapologetic Lavinia Stan, so she posts a picture of herself in Lavinia cosplay to her personal Twitter account, braced for the fat-shaming that is likely to come her way. She gets more than she bargained for when, coming to her rescue from the rude dudebros, Marcus, through his official Twitter account, asks her to dinner.
Marcus realizes on their date that April is Ulsie, but fails to disclose his identity as BAWN, going dark on the server, and hurting April/Ulsie in the process–she thinks that BAWN doesn’t want to talk with her any more because she’s disclosed her true identify and is fat. But Marcus is afraid to let her know who he really is, because it would ruin his career–as BAWN, he’s been openly critical of the showrunner’s decisions–and he’s worked so hard for roles that he loves.
As they get to know each other, April realizes that Marcus is far more than the well-groomed Golden Retriever he portrays in public, and despite his looks, has had to deal with his share of challenges because his brain works a little differently than most people. April also makes some decisions about her family, and sets boundaries on the fat-shaming that has been part of her upbringing, and that she has worked hard to overcome in her self-image. Misunderstandings abound, but Marcus is certain that he finds April/Ulsie attractive in every way possible. Although there is express anti-fat bias in the book, it’s addressed in that the characters address it in a healthy manner and are vocal about setting boundaries about it.
Their relationship becomes steamy, (Dade includes content guidance on her website–so appreciated) and Marcus meets April’s parents, but he still hasn’t told April that he’s BAWN. What happens when he does? Everything comes to a head at the Con of the Gates. Plus, we get a sneak peek of Alex Woodroe and Lauren Clegg of All the Feels, since Marcus and Alex are best friends.
I loved it and want to thank the person in the Facebook Health at Every Size community who recommended it. Where has Olivia Dade been all my life? She has a backlist I’m very much looking forward to reading.