Kelly, Anita. Love & Other Disasters. Forever, 2022. ISBN 978-1538754849 384 pp. $15.99
I love a good cooking competition romance, and this one is unique in several ways, most notably, featuring an openly non-binary character. London comes out in episode one, and almost immediately develops a crush on hottie Dahlia with the seductive hair, smooth cooking techniques, and adorkable awkwardness. Dahlia has found a refuge in cooking after her breakup and job loss, while London aspires to start a non-profit for LGBTQIA+ youth. Their attraction is mutual, palpable, epic and inconvenient.
The foodie details are mouth watering, and the competition believable – except for the cast having their phones and freedom during filming that might be unrealistic, but also allows for development of the character’s secondary relationships with family members, and leaves room for LA to become a character of the novel as well, since part of London and Dahlia’s friendship and then romance is exploring the city, Dahlia being a New Englander living outside of DC, and London hailing from Nashville. Unlike other novels riffing on Food TV reality shows that I’ve read in the last year (Sadie on a Plate, Love from Scratch, Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake), in Love and Other Disasters, the narrative is more focused on the relationship than the competition.
In Judy Blume’s classic Forever, the protagonist Kat is advised to think about how they relationship will end; London and Dahlia avoid that conversation, and things get awkward when one of them is eliminated before the other.
Chapters alternate point of view. Writing and plotting is solid, and the intimate scenes are more lavishly detailed then the food description. This is a great read with plenty of long overdue queer representation.
I received an advance reader’s review copy of #Love&OtherDisasters from #NetGalley