On the set of America’s favorite cooking show, two competitors – newly divorced Dahlia and the first nonbinary contestant London – fall for each other.
The first openly nonbinary contestant on America’s favorite cooking show falls for their clumsy competitor in this delicious romantic comedy debut “that is both fantastically fun and crack your heart wide open vulnerable.” (Rosie Danan, author of The Roommate)
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.
Love & Other Disasters is queer romance that takes place as the love interests compete on a national cooking show, à la Master Chef.
I must start out by applauding the author, Anita Hill, for the representation she included in this book. One of the main characters identified as nonbinary and pansexual and the other as queer. In Love & Other Disasters, the nonbinary character grapples with acceptance, identity, and beginning a relationship with someone who has never dated another queer person. I think that this was executed well and in a sensitive manner. Although it should not need to be said, representation matters, and I am always happy to see it done properly.
The characters in Love & Other Disasters are very likable. You can not help but cheer for them both in terms of their relationship and the cooking competition. That being said, I had a hard time feeling the chemistry between them. For me, it was not apparent and left the book and the relationship feeling a bit flat.
The setting of the show was almost just a backdrop. I was really hoping for the show to be more woven into the story. I wanted to know what they were cooking and how the challenges went. Instead, it was mostly skimmed over, and the story happened within its world and at the hotel at which the contestants were staying. I think if the television show had been more infused in the story rather than just as context Love & Other Disasters would have been a much more interesting and compelling book. Instead, I found the book overall slow and a bit boring. In fact, I considered not finishing it but decided today to push through since it was a book that was gifted to me by the publisher. I am somewhat glad that I did finish it because the ending redeemed it a bit.
A friend of mine mentioned in her review that the writing style felt pretty YA, and I would have to agree. I thought Love & Other Disasters was readable and not atrocious, but there is definitely some room for improvement.
Overall, I did not quite end up liking Love & Other Disasters. Instead, I fell somewhere between thinking it was okay and likeable. If you do not mind YA writing and a slow book, I would still give this book a shot, and hopefully, you end up enjoying it more than I did.
Love & Other Disasters
January 18, 2022
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Note: I received an e-galley of this book from the publisher, Forever. Regardless, I always provide a fair and honest review.