Olivia Dade’s Spoiler Alert is whip smart, sexy, incredibly nerdy fun

Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade. Image courtesy HarperCollins Publishers
Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade. Image courtesy HarperCollins Publishers /

Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade is as sharp as a sword’s blade as it embraces fandom, unconditional love, and stepping fully into who you are.

If you are in a reading slump, Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade is a worthy cure. The romance balances on the knife’s edge of comedy and drama. Marcus and April’s story will make you laugh and hurt your heart as these two work through the various personal traumas that have kept them from being the people they most want to be.

They’re also low key sapiosexuals who get hot and bothered over the way the other speaks about their chosen career paths, which leads to heartwarming exchanges and flaming cheeks as they talk nerdy to one another.

Marcus and April are incredibly sweet together, but the tension over what he is withholding from her in Spoiler Alert will raise your blood pressure. See, in truth, the two are best fandom friends. For the past two years, they’ve shared fic, personal stories, and opined about the way the show Gods of the Gates has treated their favorite characters and ships.

Prior to April posting a picture of herself on Twitter dressed up as Lavinia — her favorite character on Gods of the Gates — which subsequently goes viral setting off a chain reaction of replies that results in Marcus asking her out, these two to their knowledge led seemingly separate lives.

Marcus has spent the last six years playing Aeneas, the demigod lead of Gods of the Gates, and secretly violating the terms of his contract by participating in fandom under the name Book!AeneasWouldNever and dragging the show when appropriate.

April, an environmental geologist, has spent the hours she’s not digging in the dirt and looking for contaminants living a fandom life under the name Unapologetic Lavinia Stan. She has written countless Modern AU fic of Lavineas (the portmanteau of Lavinia/Aeneas) in various smutty and fluffy situations which Marcus has not only read but also beta’d with the smut scenes redacted for his comfort.

The scenario Dade sets up is an “Oh God!” situation, especially because Marcus finds out who April is to him and doesn’t disclose who he is to her. Usually, I am not a fan of hidden-identity plots, but Dade’s story sucks you in. It also helps that Marcus is so gosh darn earnest about everything and actually fears that if April knew the truth, he wouldn’t be enough for her to stay.

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Despite this admittedly hard-to-swallow lie of omission, Marcus and April are good together. Dade’s attention to the ways in which they are both striving to unmask themselves and be true to who they want to be is beautiful. This, however, does come with a side of childhood trauma so be aware of those waters.

Marcus is the dyslexic child of two academics who did not catch his disability growing up and therefore assumed he never actually tried to learn. It worked on his self-esteem to the point that he even plays a role for them. Marcus is “the worst son,” playing the kind of conceited and appearance obsessed man they think he is and hiding away his inquisitive nature and knowledge of various fields of study like perfume making, sword fighting, horseback riding, unicycling, and more.

April is fat and has been since puberty endowed her with a curvy, round body instead of the lean one her father would have preferred and her mother is practically killing herself to maintain. Her childhood was marked by her father’s absence due to her appearance and her mother’s attempt to make her conform to his wishes and those of greater society’s.

Both of Spoiler Alert’s leads have had enough of other people’s expectations, but April is the braver of two, which can be seen throughout the book. Perhaps that is because Marcus has more to lose since his fears largely have to do with his career while April’s do not. What makes this book work, however, is its effort to showcase different forms of bravery and different ways of gathering up the gumption to be oneself.

It also doesn’t hurt that neither Marcus nor April try to change the other. They have their stumbles in communication and baggage brought in from other relationships, but Spoiler Alert is not a story that’s predicated on the two earning love by conforming to what the other person wants.

It’s also not a story where April’s body is required to change or she suddenly has a desire to be athletic or eat according to Marcus’ regimen. They also don’t fight about her body outside of the context of a misunderstanding.

I bring this up because there is an unhealthy and toxic policing of fat bodies and appearance in our society and in media. Spoiler Alert addresses this, but not in a way that positions that policing as right. Dade posits that body acceptance is a key part of happiness and that it can only come from within. It’s also not a journey that has a set destination but rather one that’s ever evolving.

Marcus and April work through their trauma at their own pace. They forge the future they want for themselves and together one tough conversation at a time. Theirs is a romance that will leave you breathless with love for their partnership and rooting for them every step of the way.

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Spoiler Alert is available now in print, audio, and e-book format. Will you be adding it to your TBR? Let us know in the comments below!