Love & Other Disasters by Anita Kelly

Title: Love & Other Disasters
Author: Anita Kelly
Publication date: 2022

Date started: 23/07/2022
Date finished: 28/09/2022

First sentence: “Dahlia Woodson might have been shit at marriage, but she could dice an onion like a goddamn professional.”
Last sentence: “There was something essential missing, though. Dahlia opened the fridge again and rummaged through the vegetable drawer. Ah, there. All the way in the back. She grabbed the onion and brought it over to the cutting board, its papery skin already starting to unravel. And then she picked up her knife.”
Favorite sentence (spoilers): “You’ve had three years, Dad. And every single time you use the wrong pronoun, what I hear is that, even though I feel better about myself than I have my whole life, you don’t respect me. You don’t see me. Sometimes, it feels like you don’t love me. And yes, people slip up with pronouns all the time. It’s natural to make mistakes. But every time you misgender me, it’s purposeful, and it fucking hurts.”

Summary (spoilers): Dahlia Woodson and London Parker are participants in a home cook competition, Chef’s Special. As the first openly nonbinary participant, London is stressed about how their identity will be received by their co-competitors and the audience. Unfortunately, that’s not their only problem as they keep getting distracted by Dahlia and her amazing hair, cooking just in front of them. As the show progresses and their friends slowly get eliminated, Dahlia and London get closer and end up together. They refuse to talk about what will happen when one of them gets eliminated, choosing instead on focusing in the moment and forget that they live nowhere close to each other. When Dahlia loses so close to the end of the show, she freaks out and tells London they have no future together before flying away immediately. Once home, she realizes her life is in shambles – recently divorced, she also quit her job for the show and doesn’t know what to do – and decides to pack up to go live with her dad for a while. After an open discussion with her mother, she realizes she shouldn’t give up on her relationship with London, and she flies back for the show’s finale. After London wins, Dahlia cooks them a full barbecue spread and apologizes, and agrees to move to Nashville. Three months later, and they already live together, London started a nonprofit to teach queer kids how to cook during summer camps, and Dahlia started to write restaurant review, alongside a YouTube channel, a blog and an office job, trying to let her creativity and passions shine.

Opinion: This was quite a lovely book! There were a lot of explicit sex scenes which is not really my favorite thing, so at some point I almost gave up on it, but I’m glad I continued reading because it was a nice story. I liked that it was about cooking because I love food, but I thought that actually the cooking, food and competition parts of the story were a bit too eclipsed by the love story; of course I loved the romance, but I would have loved to hear more about food and cooking. It was great to have a nonbinary character as the main in a romance novel, especially to see an adult who’s already figured their stuff our, rather than a teenager still in the middle of the storm as I read before.


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