Dahlia Woodson has a plan to reinvent herself after a messy divorce left her world gray. If she can just win the reality cooking competition Chef’s Special, the prize money and fame will let her clear away the past and find the kind of future she’s been dreaming of. But when her feelings for her rival, non-binary London Parker, come to a boil, she must decide whether she’s ready to risk it all, including her heart, on another person again.
London Parker is intensely shy and reserved, which is why their coming-out as gender non-binary on a nationally televised cooking show is all the stress they can handle. They don’t have time for a bubbly, breathtakingly adorable rival creeping into their heart. They’re too busy proving the trolls (and their dad) wrong. But love doesn’t always care about your plans in life.
Love and Other Disasters has all the foodie TV feel-goods and sex-positivity you’re looking for in a romance, including a wedding crashing, a sweet grumpy-sunshine dynamic, and a dessert in bed scene that might not hit for all readers. But what really hit me was London’s character. I can see so much of myself in them and the development of their gender identity that the affirmation brought me to actual tears. The dysphoria struggle is real, raw, and honestly handled. It was a fiercely empowering read for me, as well as a gentle, sweet, spicy, sexy taking of SoCal by storm. I particularly loved Dahlia’s complicated, nuanced relationship with her mother, and the healing that rose from it.
At heart, this is a deliciously satisfying read, that also tackles some hard conversations and doesn’t shy away from showing the bad and the good in ways that leave the reader with hope for us all.
Content Notices for: On-page explicit homophobia and transphobia (including transphobic parent rejection and deadnaming), blood, and anxiety, use of AFAB language.
See Anita Kelly’s work at https://anitakellywrites.com/ and don’t forget to request it at your local library!