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Love & Other Disasters by Anita Kelly

Love & Other Disasters


We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Anita Kelly, on your first book!

by Anita Kelly

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Quick take

This delicious queer rom-com proves that like the best meals, true love is hard work, a bit messy, but oh-so-rewarding.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_LGBTQ

    LGBTQ+ themes

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Quirky


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_SalaciousPeach


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Foodie



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.

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Get an early look from the first pages of Love & Other Disasters.
Love & Other Disasters

Chapter One

Dahlia Woodson might have been shit at marriage, but she could dice an onion like a goddamn professional. The first even slices, the cross hatching. The comfort in how logical and perfect it was. Dahlia had put in the work, onion after onion, until she could create consistent knife cuts every time. Until she trusted her hand, her knife, without having to think about it at all: fast and efficient and right.

When Dahlia stepped onto the set of Chef’s Special in Burbank, California, on a Tuesday morning in late July, she thought about onions.

She certainly couldn’t focus on the mahogany floor under her feet, how it positively gleamed. Or how high the ceilings were, far higher than she had imagined, than seemed necessary. Like some sort of sports stadium. For food nerds.

And the lights—sweet holy Moses.

It felt like walking into an airport terminal after a long cross-country flight: everything too fast, too loud, too full of new.

Except the set of Chef’s Special wasn’t new, not exactly. Dahlia had seen it before, back home on her TV set. But it was different in person. More overwhelming, more surreal.

She approached the soaring wooden archway that marked the rear edge of the set. It was majestic and unmistakable, like the doorway of a cathedral, if a kitchen could be a church.

She shuffled around it, staring in awe, dazzled by the shining lights above. And a second later, smacked herself right into a solid wall of person.

A person who released a displeased grunt at Dahlia’s face implanting into their chest.

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Why I love it

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.

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Member ratings (10,467)

  • Jaida L.

    Bakersfield, CA

    Non binary representation is important in books, it’s a thing we don’t often see. Some people say it’s “confusing” to read. I completely disagree, it’s important for people to relate to characters.????

  • maliyah b.

    Indianapolis, IN

    often i wouldn’t like romance books, but this ties it’s romance in so nice. it’s not too much and it’s not too little at the same time. i love the characters so much and this was a really good book ❤️

  • Skylar M.

    Ames, IA

    This is the first book I've ever read with nonbinary representation and I loved it! The plot is amazing and the characters are great, and the representation is just what we need. I feel seen :,) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

  • Alissa S.

    Newark , DE

    5/5 stars. Loved this one. I’m a sucker for cooking shows and romance. As a lifelong ally and lover of the LGBTQIA+ community, this was delicious. Every single part. The “About the Author”—read it. ????

  • Samantha H.

    Blue Springs, MO

    Love, love, LOVE! I was so hooked by the complex emotions and adorable romance between Dahlia and London that I finished this book in a day!! A novel where spice doesn’t just appear with the food ????❤️

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