Recommendation: I would say that TikTok made me do it, but I’m not on TikTok
Where to read: Beach, summer
Read with: A good sparkling rose
In brief: This was once Star Wars fanfiction, specifically Kylo Ren/Rey fanfiction however with the benefit of some well-placed edits, some name changes and a new villain, it has become quite a passable romance.
This was Star Wars fanfiction with a publishing deal and some “creative” name changes (Kylo Ren/Ben Solo is replaced by Adam *cough Driver* Carlson, Rey becomes Olive Smith etc etc). I have read the OG fanfiction and I can confirm this is much better than the original – some good plot changes make the story marginally less stupid, although its still pretty stupid, while retaining the essential charm.
The story runs thus – Olive is a third year PhD student at Stanford in the biology department. Motived by a tragedy in her past, she has been studying bowel cancer and appears to have developed a promising idea for early screening via blood test. In order to further develop this research, she needs to spend some time in a bigger, better equipped lab but her supervisor is on the verge of retirement and is no longer applying for funding or grants. Oh, and she also kissed the dickheadiest dickhead in the faculty in the labs one night as part of a knuckleheaded scheme. What a shame that dickhead happens to be tall, dark, ripped and handsome and has reasons of his own to go along with the ruse…
From there, we get into a self-aware but fully committed indulgence in the “fake dating” trope, mixed in with some truly masterful cheese and silly department politics. We also, because the author is clearly taking a maximalist approach to rom com shibboleths, get a good dose of “he hurts to prettily”, “he’s grumpy but not around her” and happy endings which come to those who deserve them. It is the kind of thing you will either hate with the fire of a thousand suns or find a bit charming.
I full-body cringed during some of this but overall it was an enjoyable read. I certainly didn’t give myself any time to think about it, powering through in about three hours. It does not do anything new or particularly exciting but as a sort of redemption for fan-fiction turned published fiction, it is fine, although the competition is 50 Shades of Grey and its ilk.