I needed a break from The Wheel of Time. I know Olivia Dade has been getting a lot of reviews over the last year, so I thought I’d give this one a shot. I told my wife about the book, and she downloaded it from Audible.
I’ve had a few semi-successful forays into the world of romantic novels, and I haven’t really found them to my liking. Some I’ve really liked, others have left me reeling with indifference. I think, generally, I tend to fall somewhere in the middle. Even those that I find entertaining don’t really stick with me all that well. If I’ve learned anything, though, it’s that I pretty much only like modern romance, and I’m a bigger fan of those that don’t necessarily fit in the “Romance” genre. I like a little tragedy mixed in, and unrequited love.
And this book taught me, I really don’t like explicit sex in my books. Strange, that. Maybe I’m a prude? I don’t think I’m a prude. But maybe I am? I just wanted to giggle like a 12 year old.
Anyway. This wasn’t my wheelhouse. I don’t necessarily think this was a bad book, per say, but I didn’t enjoy it. I got about an hour into the audiobook and wondered what the hell was going to happen for the other 9 hours I hadn’t listened to yet. Why was this book so long?
The basic premise is that April, a geologist, is a fan of a Game of Thrones-type show called Gods of the Gates. She writes fanfiction based on the show, and is part of an online community – and has one close friend, in particular. In an attempt to be more self-affirming and proud of herself, she posts a picture of her cosplay online. Boom! It goes viral. The internet being what it is, and she being overweight like she is, people start saying terrible things about her. One of the actors on the show, Marcus Caster-Rupp, comes to her defense and asks her out on a date to prove that she truly is beautiful.
*Spoiler alert* (Heh…)
Turns out, Marcus is really her fanfiction friend – though neither of them know that at the time.
And….that’s kind of where the book started to lose me. There was something a little white-knighty about Marcus having to defend April. Like, I don’t think he’s wrong to stick up for her, and I don’t really think she needed him to defend her honor – that isn’t how it’s presented – but it still felt a little condescending to me. Your mileage may vary on that, however.
Beyond that – the BIG SECRET (this is a Romance novel, after all – there’s always a big secret) just didn’t work for me. I think Marcus was totally in a defensible position to hide the fact that he was her secret best online friend. I mean, ideally he would’ve been honest with her – and he certainly come clean to her much earlier in their relationship – but I think it’s entirely reasonable that he was afraid his connection to fanfiction of a show he was in the process of filming and was legally bound to not disclose unreleased material of would become public knowledge, and wanted to keep that close to the vest as long as possible.
It really, really annoyed me that he was sitting on that information as long as he was. It seemed to only be a big deal because he was intentionally keeping it from her.
I mean, look, people do that. People don’t always do the smart thing. I get that. But it’s hard to have a lot of sympathy for something that’s so easily resolved.
The thing that utterly killed my interest, though, was the second date between Marcus and April. Everything went well, until the very end of the night. They wanted to spend more time together, but Marcus had to fly to LA the next morning. So, he invites her to go to the gym the next morning before his flight. She gets super offended, and ends the budding relationship almost immediately. He’s hurt by her sudden coldness, and confused because she offers no explanation.
And everything is handled well – don’t get me wrong. April realizes that the problem was hers – not his. She has trust issues, and has dealt with people trying to “fix” her her whole life. She may have been a little too quick to take offense, and was probably bringing a lot of baggage to the relationship. For his part, Marcus realizes what he did and how it was construed. Both characters are able to move past the moment and put the misunderstanding behind them – but I ended up losing sympathy for April.
So I’m sitting her reading a book about two characters I don’t particularly like. And so….much of the book is uneventful. Nothing happens. They make up, have sex, and then have a couple months….having sex and hanging out.
I just didn’t care.
I’ve got three hours left, and I just can’t be bothered to finish it.
I think the general consensus on this book is that it’s pretty good.
Not for me, though. But, given my history, you can probably take that with a grain of salt.