I’ve never met a book that brought as wonderful a feeling of catharsis as Spoiler Alert. I’ve never felt more seen than I did reading April’s story.
It’s really hard to express just how much I love Spoiler Alert. Not just because it has a plus size heroine. Not just because it takes place largely within fandom. And not just because a hunky actor finds himself infatuated with a woman others would overlook. I love it because April is unwilling to accept less than what she deserves. From anyone. And I KNOW that’s a lesson I have yet to fully learn myself.
But ultimately, Spoiler Alert tells the story of April Whittier and Marcus Caster-Rupp. Their real identities may be strangers, but their fan fiction-writing alter egos are the best of friends, and maybe even more. The trust they have placed in each other over the years has bonded them in ways only true friends know. When real life crashes their otherwise anonymous friendship, it could spell happily ever after… or total disaster.
Spoiler Alert ticks all my favorite romance boxes. Friends-to-lovers, secret feelings, a plus-sized heroine who takes crap from absolutely no one, plus a million other small things. And yet, while I absolutely gorged myself on this story, I grew more and more uncomfortable with Marcus as he let time pass without telling April the truth.
It wasn’t until late in the story that I realized I was feeling so much of what he was. While I found it really easy to slip into April shoes in the story, it was harder for me to understand Marcus’ point-of-view. He was just as uncomfortable with his choices as I was, but he had a hell of a lot to lose, and that fear is something I could definitely related to. Once I felt that bond with Marcus, I was even more engaged than I ever imagined I could be.
I think it’s easier to identify with a heroine that has similar physical or personality traits, but to be able to help a female reader identify with a male character in a similar way takes a skilled and practiced hand. This was my first Olivia Dade story, and I was drawn in by the fandom of it all, but I know for certain that it will not be my last. I am beyond eager to dive into her back catalog and see all the interesting and varied lives that her other characters live.
No review of Spoiler Alert would be complete without acknowledging how accurate and empowering the depiction of fandom is throughout the story. So many people hear the word fandom and ascribe it to throngs of teenage girls or possessive fanboys, immediately trying to delegitimize the passion and fervor for nothing more than adolescent or childish fancy.
But fandom is an evolving community. Every TV show, movie franchise, book genre, and music group depends on the dedication of fans of all ages, creeds, and backgrounds to keep them afloat. I will never stop loving the ever-changing landscape of fandoms I subscribe to, and it feels so wonderful to see it depicted so lovingly in a novel such as this.
I think my favorite part (besides the love and the kissy parts, of course) was watching April meet her online fan community in person and discover the power of completely embracing those types of friendships. Even through Marcus’ eyes, it was powerful to see a moment I myself have experienced play out for a character I loved so thoroughly.
Ultimately, I think Spoiler Alert is an absolutely fantastic romance. It’s a story I loved from start to finish, even when I found myself a little uncomfortable with Marcus’ choices. No one is perfect, and I hardly expect the heroes and heroines I read to be that way either. And what kind of romance would it be if I, the reader, weren’t begging the characters to talk to each other more, to admit their weaknesses and hidden truths, to bare their souls to each other?
I think only the very best romances can make the reader actually try talking sense into the characters. I know I may have had a moment or two, sitting alone in my living room, trying to reason with both of them out loud. Sometimes it was because April jumped to conclusions and sometimes it was because I thought Marcus was being a chicken. The reality is, I was so emotionally invested in this happily ever after that I couldn’t help but try to help them along.
I may not have known who Olivia Dade was before Spoiler Alert entered my life, but I know I will never forget her name now that it is.