This delicious queer rom-com proves that like the best meals, true love is hard work, a bit messy, but oh-so-rewarding.
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Why I love it
Author, Something to Talk About
The first time I read the opening line of Love & Other Disasters, it had another title. The manuscript was one of over a hundred submissions for potential mentorship by me and an author friend. But I read that opening line and I knew. This was the one.
Dahlia Woodson likes onions because they are a building block. Stack simple building blocks together and you can make a complex, beautiful dish. This book is the same. Characters. Plot. Conflict. Building blocks. More specifically, a self-critical, impulsive woman competing against a grumpy, taciturn love interest on America’s favorite reality cooking show. Banter. Heartache. Frissons of sexual connection. The knowledge that either of them could be eliminated from the competition at any time. Building blocks.
But this book is so much more than a sum of its parts, and not just because of Anita Kelly’s skill bringing it all together.
This is the first book I read where a nonbinary character gets their happily ever after. London’s identity does play a role in some of the conflict, but they know their worth the whole time. I’m a nonbinary author, and still I never considered writing a nonbinary main character until reading this book. I didn’t know there was space in mainstream romance for that.
I love this book not just because it makes me laugh out loud and tear up and fan myself—sometimes all in the same chapter—but also because it’s shown me what is possible.
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.