Ooh, boy. Buckle up, Buttercup, it’s about to get steamy in here.
April Whittier, geologist, is a competent, brilliant, funny, lovely woman who has a serious job in Sacramento with a burning secret: she writes FanFic for her favorite show “Gods of the Gates,” a mainstream and wildly popular adaptation of Greek/Roman mythology. April has gone to great lengths to compartmentalize her real life and online life, but decides to make a change, moving her to the more open and accepting (?) area of Oakland/Berkeley, a new job, and tearing down the walls between her two facades. This prompts her to post a picture in a self-styled Lavinia (a character from the show) costume on Twitter, revealing her dedication to the “Gods of the Gates” (GotG henceforth) community, as well as being a plus-sized woman. The Tweet quickly goes viral and receives both praise and fat-shaming spite the world over.
Marcus Caster-Rupp (if that isn’t a leading man name, I don’t know what is) is the lead and hero on aforementioned show, and plays the lead character of Aeneas. He’s dazzlingly attractive, tall, well muscled (duh), and has the public persona of being about as interesting as dried plaster. Unbeknownst to the world at large, he’s also a member of the GotG Fanfic community, which he uses as a way to correct the failings and missteps of the show runners at large, and could lead to his firing and significant professional risk for future roles, hence THE SECRET. He, as BookAeneasWouldNever, and April, as Unapologetic Lavinia Stan, also happen to be best friends, in the way that the internet community allows you to really know and love a person, without knowing them in “real” life.
Seeing the viral nature of April’s Tweet, and noticing the trolls and nasty comments, Marcus (the public-facing actor version of himself) invites April to dinner in San Francisco to shut down the fat shaming and hate directed at April, as well as spite the trolls. The date starts awkwardly, as April is bored to tears by Marcus’ public persona, though of COURSE Marcus realizes the woman sitting across from him is his best friend from the GotG forums, and quickly begs for a second date. Hyjinx and misdirection, hidden motives, and steamy scenes ensue.
The characters here are lovely and light. Their chemistry is palpable and delicious, and while the somewhat unwieldy SECRETS that threaten to tear them asunder would really just require a candid, grown-up conversation, I still found the plot charming and frothy. There are fun (though fairly 1 dimensional) supporting characters that help move everything along, and the two leads are fleshed out (see what I did there?) to make them more real and provide depth in connection. Did I also appreciate descriptions of sexy fun times featuring a non-size 2 female lead? Hell yes. It’s about damn time someone didn’t have perfectly perky rosebud-nippled breasts and a tiny wasp-waist. Marcus is clearly obsessed with every inch of April, and that was a delightful change from the usual. His dedication to her physical and sexual well-being are also clearly and saucily described. 🙂
All in all, I appreciated a smart, full-figured female lead getting the worship she deserves, and a perceived mouth-breathing pretty man with an actual brain eating her up with a spoon. If you’re looking for something light and sassy, this is a great choice to get you through the winter doldrums.