All the Feels, the second book in Olivia Dade’s smart and sexy Spoiler Alert series, follows a dreamy actor with a bad reputation and his down-to-earth soulmate.
Alex Woodroe stars as the mythical Cupid on “Gods of the Gates,” a prestige fantasy TV show similar to “Game of Thrones.” Following a rocky penultimate season and some embarrassing publicity, the producers have imposed a tight rein on the production of the final episodes. So when Alex gets into a headline-making bar brawl, a tense situation goes from bad to worse—and totally viral.
Enter Lauren Clegg, an even-tempered but burned-out emergency room psychotherapist. While decompressing between jobs in Europe, she receives a message that Ron, her estranged cousin and childhood bully who also happens to be a producer on “Gods of the Gates,” needs her help to get control of his star. Lauren signs on as Alex’s “minder.” She’s essentially his sober companion, but for issues with impulse control and volatile behavior instead of alcohol or drugs.
It’s a uniquely awkward meet cute that immediately results in intense close proximity. But Alex’s first reaction to Lauren isn’t love struck. For one thing, he thinks that his “new nanny looked like a bird.” More importantly, Alex objects to the entire idea that he needs minding.
Yet even though he teasingly dubs her “Nanny Clegg,” Lauren doesn’t treat him like a child, and the two begin to warm to each other. Soon the main question is whether close work friends, who not only met under inopportune circumstances but also have some inner healing to do, can become lovers.
All the Feels is a tender, slow burn romance that focuses first on Alex and Lauren’s friendship and then on the love that grows between them while they both take their own, separate journeys towards greater emotional well-being. Between her work as a therapist and the judgment she’s endured since childhood concerning her appearance, Lauren’s shell is hard to penetrate. Dade spends a lot of time depicting how Lauren attracts negative attention but is never surprised by it. After all, Lauren has been bullied before, even within her own family.
But the spotlight of celebrity makes the hostile scrutiny stronger. Alex is a wealthy celebrity, while Lauren is a respected but decidedly middle-class professional who is more comfortable in T-shirts than designer clothing. Due to his troubled family history, Alex has a strong sense of justice and ferocious protective instincts. And while that’s certainly noble, All the Feels doesn’t put his behavior on a pedestal. Alex might not be as out of control as Ron says he is, but being so reactive is something he needs to learn to manage, especially since he is a public figure.
It can be difficult to balance realism and romance in love stories about two people of unequal status and power. All the Feels delves deeply into the imbalances between its central couple, from looks to finances to fame. It succeeds because Dade ensures that there’s far more to Alex and Lauren than their value on the modern-day marriage market. Alex and Lauren’s progression toward romance is rooted in their friendship, which blossoms into a mutual care and compassion that is stunning to behold. Their romance is one to cry over and cheer for.