One small fandom convention. One teen beauty pageant.
One meet cute waiting to happen.
Up and coming fanfic author Kaylee Beaumont is internally screaming at the chance to finally meet her fandom friends in real life and spend a weekend at GreatCon. She also has a side quest for the weekend:
Try out they/them pronouns to see how it feels
Wear more masculine-presenting cosplay
Kiss a girl for the first time
It’s… a lot, and Kay mostly wants to lie face down on the hotel floor. Especially when her hometown bully, Miss North Carolina, shows up in the very same hotel. But there’s this con-sponsored publishing contest, and the chance to meet her fandom idols… and then, there’s Teagan.
Pageant queen Teagan Miller (Miss Virginia) has her eye on the much-needed prize: the $25,000 scholarship awarded to the winner of the Miss Cosmic Teen USA pageant. She also has secrets:
She loves the dresses but hates the tiaras
She’s a giant nerd for everything GreatCon
She’s gay af
If Teagan can just keep herself wrapped up tight for one more weekend, she can claim the scholarship and go off to college out and proud. If she’s caught, she could lose everything she’s worked for. If her rival, Miss North Carolina, has anything to do with it, that’s exactly how it’ll go down.
When Teagan and Kay bump into one another the first night, sparks fly. Their connection is intense—as is their shared enemy. If they’re spotted, the safe space of the con will be shattered, and all their secrets will follow them home. The risks are great… but could the reward of embracing their true selves be worth it?
Kay is a well-known slash fiction writer who is thrilled to be spending a weekend at GreatCon (a Sherlockian type of convention) with their fandom friends. They are also questioning their gender identity and sexuality and plan on exploring it more over the weekend at the Con. Unfortunately, Kay is unaware that the hotel is also hosting the Miss Cosmic Teen USA pageant and in attendance is Kay’s dreaded nemesis, Madison (Miss North Carolina), who has made Kay’s life pure hell at school. Kay is fearful that Madison will connect her to her online persona and out her to the entire school. But Kay is not the only person whose life Madison is making miserable. Madison has also targeted a beauty queen named Teagan, Miss Virginia, Madison’s main competitor. Teagan is also a closet lesbian and a fandom fan herself. Things get really interesting when Teagan sneaks away from the pageant chaperones to attend the Con and meets Kay. Needless to say, sparks immediately fly between them.
My inner geek absolutely adored this story! I tend to enjoy books about fandoms, and this one ticked all the right boxes for me. What also worked was the high-stakes tension that continued to build throughout the story. Kay and Teagan each have a lot to lose if their identities become public, and as the story progresses, the hateful Miss North Carolina gets closer to uncovering them. It was also fun how the author pitted the fanfiction/Con world against the pageant world while highlighting the good and not-so-good aspects of each of them. The story is told in alternating POVs between Kay and Teagan, so we get a close-up and personal glimpse in each of their worlds.
I loved the fact that we have two young women who are both exploring their sexuality and gender identity. The romance between them was sweet and heartwarming, as they both also made discoveries about themselves in the process. It was beautiful how they get to know each other and move past their self-imposed barriers. The “opposites-attract” romance between the two of them is not only endearing but also inspiring as they both made some difficult decisions.
I also loved the hard-hitting conversations about gender, queerness, labels, body image, and the beauty community. Through these conversations, the author attacks the stereotypes of both of these communities and gives the reader plenty of thought-provoking topics to contemplate as a result. The novel also touched on themes of love, self-confidence, the judgment of others, identity, shame, competition, and fandoms, so in this way, there is a lot of depth to this story.
Additionally, I adored the fandom community, as illustrated in the story and the heartwarming connections that the people made with each other. The found family aspect of the novel was especially touching. It was also heartwarming how the book celebrated beauty in all of its different forms and facets. The author did a splendid job of capturing the excitement and spirit of fandoms (being somewhat of a Con fan, myself) which left me with a warm and fuzzy feeling at the end.
Overall, I thought this was an amazing, affirming book about self-discovery, and I give it 5 out of 5 stars.
This book will be published on March 1, 2022 but it available now for preorder.
A huge thank you to Netgalley for providing a review copy of this book.