If there’s one thing about me, is that I absolutely adore watching Masterchef with my mum—I was actually watching that before posting this—so when I heard about this book, I knew I had to read it.
About the book
I received this book from Hachette Audio as an audiobook copy in exchange for an honest review.
Genre: Contemporary, romance, LGBT+
Representation: Queer main character, pansexual non-binary main character, trans secondary character
Content warning: Transphobia
Summary: 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 was, overall, a really fun romance book. It had amazing characters and relationships as well as a unique setting that made the story all the more interesting.
First of all, the characters were compelling and interesting. I especially loved London and how they were treated in the book. The fact that they are non-binary is never sensationalised or used as a device and I loved the overall message that was given thanks to how they deal with their dad misgendering them. Dahlia was also very interesting in her own right. She was sweet and bubbly, but she wasn’t over the top and she was also very smart.
The way their relationship was handled was really enjoyable, my only gripe being the third act fight. This is something I never particularly enjoy, but this time it annoyed me even more. I really didn’t like how it played out, but I’m glad it didn’t drag on for too long.
However, by far my favourite aspect of the book, and what really made it stand out, was the cooking show setting. I simply adored that the challenges were described and that we learn about the judges, other contestants, and the crew. I’m extremely glad that aspect wasn’t brushed over and instead given the attention it deserved, because I think it’s what made the book truly unique.
The narration of the audiobook was also fantastic and it really added to the overall experience of the book. The characters were easy to differentiate and it was an entertaining listen.
All in all, Love & Other Disasters was an enjoyable book that brought a new thing to the romance genre. Its setting was it’s strong suit to create a different type of story while maintaining what everyone loves about this genre. It’s definitely one that I’ll be recommending.
About the author
Originally from a small town in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, Anita Kelly now lives in the Pacific Northwest with their family. A teen librarian by day, they write romance that celebrates queer love in all its infinite possibilities. Whenever not reading or writing, they’re drinking too much tea, taking pictures, and dreaming of their next walk in the woods. They hope you get to pet a dog today.
Have you read Love & Other Disasters? What was your favourite aspect of it? Do you enjoy cooking shows?