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Review: Love and Other Disasters by Anita Kelly

Title: Love and Other Disasters
Author: Anita Kelly
Year published: 2022
Category: Adult fiction (romance)
Pages: 384 pages
Rating: 4 out of 5

Location: (my 2022 Google Reading map)USA (CA)

SummaryThe first openly nonbinary contestant on America’s favorite cooking show falls for their clumsy competitor in this delicious romantic comedy debut that USA Today hailed as “an essential read.

Recently divorced and on the verge of bankruptcy, Dahlia Woodson is ready to reinvent herself on the popular reality competition show Chef’s Special. Too bad the first memorable move she makes is falling flat on her face, sending fish tacos flying—not quite the fresh start she was hoping for. Still, she's focused on winning, until she meets someone she might want a future with more than she needs the prize money. 

After announcing their pronouns on national television, London Parker has enough on their mind without worrying about the klutzy competitor stationed in front of them. They’re there to prove the trolls—including a fellow contestant and their dad—wrong, and falling in love was never part of the plan.

As London and Dahlia get closer, reality starts to fall away. Goodbye, guilt about divorce, anxiety about uncertain futures, and stress from transphobia. Hello, hilarious shenanigans on set, wedding crashing, and spontaneous dips into the Pacific. But as the finale draws near, Dahlia and London’s steamy relationship starts to feel the heat both in and outside the kitchen—and they must figure out if they have the right ingredients for a happily ever after.

Review: I was in the mood for a romance, partly because I figured I could finish it before I went on my trip; I didn't want have a partly finished book on the flight. I think some people will have a difficult time reading this since one of the main characters is nonbinary and uses they/their/theirs for pronouns. Stick with it, you'll get used to it, and the book is a fun read.

Cooking/reality shows seem to be the new setting for romance books, which will probably get old soon, but I am good with it for now. If you've ever watched any of the cooking competitions, this setting will feel familiar and gives you a little insight into the shows themselves.

Dahlia and London are a fun duo and I was rooting for them from the start. Like any good contemporary romance, there is a good amount of sexual tension, a bunch of sex scenes (so if you aren't into that, be warned), arguments, and making up. I do like that these romances end on a happy note. It's very satisfying.

In addition to the romance and the cooking competition, there is a good amount of exploration into the concept of people who are nonbinary and it's done well and in context. The author is nonbinary so knows what they are writing about and it shows. There is family tension, public support (and not), and owning who they are. I thought it added a good new dimension to the genre.

Challenges for which this counts:  none

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