I love Alexis Hall, and immediately read all his books. While this one wasn't my favorite, it was definitely an enjoyable read, especially for fans of British baking shows and lovers of queer romance!
I love baking shows. I adore queer love stories. And as a queer person with anxiety, I wanted to connect with Paris so badly... However, I couldn't for 85% of this book. It was so hard to like him. Perhaps that was the journey I needed - to get to the point where he sought help and I finally liked him for him.... However, it made it so difficult to connect.
And as much as I loved Tariq's charisma and charm, and how much he wanted to help Paris, it was difficult to watch someone who isn't familiar with how anxiety works and how difficult it is to work through and how someone cannot be saved unless they're doing the work.
That's not to say I did not like the book. I did enjoy parts of it. There were some fun witty banter, I loved the homage to the GBBO, it was a fun read here and there. However, the sum of its parts did not hit a home run for me.
Please excuse the sports metaphor. <3
Paris Daillencourt Is About To Crumble by Alexis Hall is a four star read. Yes, the title is a bit if a mouth full but in a delicious way. It is the second book in the Winner Takes All series. It can easily be read as a stand alone. The only characters that return are the production staff and hosts of the Bake Expectations (love the name) baking competition. Yes, there are echoes of one of my favorite shows, The Great British Bake Off! Both shows take place at lovely estates in England.
Paris Daillencourt finds himself entered into the show by his well meaning flatmate Morag. Paris is an avid home baker. He loves baking as it soothes him both from his studies in classics at university and, well, life in general. Paris is socially awkward and Ifelt so badly for him. His anxiety level and sense of self worth are especially magnified through every baking challenge judged by both the judges and in the eyes of the viewing public. Once the season aired, each triumph and presumed (by Paris) failure is dissected by social media which can be as vicious as the meanest schoolyard bully.
The only bright spot in all of his anguish is Tariq Hassan, a fellow contestant at Bake Expectations. It is one of the best cute meets I have ever read. It will nearly knock you out! (Wink! Wink!)
Paris Daillencourt Is About to Crumble (thanks to @readforeverpub for the gifted copy of Paris!)
Genre: LGBTQIA Contemporary fiction, with elements of a rom-com
Alexis Hall is the MASTER of writing supporting characters. In the four or five books I've read from the author, each supporting cast has been stellar and never failed to crack me up.
That being said, in Paris Daillencourt is About to Crumble, Paris was a main character who I struggled with, and that impacted how much I enjoyed the book. While I felt for (and completely related) to his anxiety and constant (on every page) worries in his head, it got pretty exhausting (and triggering) to read about. Paris came off as self-centered and pretty insensitive for most of the book, but did have some major growth at the end. The supporting cast and the banter still won me over and confirmed this author as one of my favorites!
I wanted to enjoy this book more than I did. The main character (and most others) are unlikable and make the most horrendous decisions throughout the entire book. I wanted to be able to root for Paris. I have struggled with anxiety, so I thought I would identify and be able to cheer when Paris got a grip on it. However, it just kind of consumes the character and becomes the only thing they are? I would like more out of a character than their mental illness.
Honestly, I feel quite conflicted about Paris Daillencourt is About to Crumble. There were certain aspects of it that I really enjoyed, but overall, I was felt feeling upset and angry on Paris’ behalf most of the time that it tainted a lot of my reading experience. First off - this is not a romcom, nor should it be labeled as such. It’s very much contemporary fiction with a romantic main plot - very unlike Rosaline Palmer, which dealt with the discussions of being a single mother in a much more integrated way.
From the beginning, it was clear that Paris is DEEPLY mentally unwell and absolutely no on in his life cares enough to take him seriously. Sure, he also doesn’t recognize much of a problem in himself until it’s too late, but the people in his life should have been more present and aware of the severe emotional tole this situation was taking on him.
Being inside Paris’ head was quite difficult. His intense anxiety and thought spirals were extremely well written and relatable, but that made being inside his brain triggering for me. He catastrophized every situation and interaction, but no one seemed to care enough to help him through it. Paris’ biggest trigger was being abandoned for being too much and literally EVERYONE, including the “heroes” of this book, did that to him, and that rubbed me the wrong way. Paris was definitely not a great person and
Tariq was kind of the worst at times. He was extremely judgmental and condescending towards Paris, but then would turn around and say something helpful. I could never fully figure out why they were together. I didn’t feel the chemistry between them until the very end. He constantly attacked Paris and made him feel inferior, especially in the beginning. By the end, I was happy with the “redemption” that Tariq got and I was happy with how their relationship ended, but it took a lot of work to get to that point.
And Morag is, perhaps, the most frustrating character I’ve ever read about. I couldn’t stand her. She was a TERRIBLE friend to Paris and literally NEVER redeemed herself. Hall has a thing for quirky side characters and most of the time I can set aside my reservations bout them, but Morag was the worst and every time she was on the page I wanted to scream.
The last 25% or so is where this book really shines. When Paris starts going to therapy and actually getting the help that he needs, you see the character you’ve been rooting for starting to shine. I was very proud of him for the work he put in to help himself and to fix the relationships that he unintentionally ruined.
Overall, I did enjoy this book. IT was hard to get into, especially with Paris’ thought spirals, but I’m glad that I pushed through.
Thank you to Netgalley and Forever publishing for the advanced copy.
I enjoyed Alexis Hall's earlier book about romance during a baking competition, and I enjoyed this one too. I love the personality and humor and depth of Alexis Hall's characters. I'm so glad I read this. I do still love Hall's Boyfriend Material/Husband Material series the most, but I really like these books, too.
Alexis Hall has done it again, i fell in love with the entire cast of this season of Bake Expectations and the masterful descriptions of the different characters. Secretly hoping for a sequel to this book that takes us on Tariq's journey to being his best self. Paris was such a disaster that I could endlessly empathize with thanks to also suffering from some pretty debilitating anxiety. Meds and getting help are beautiful things and I'm so glad they're being openly talked about in this book and show Paris making realistic progress. I cannot wait for the next book in this series to come out next year!
This was a difficult read for most of the book. Paris is a character with issues. Anxiety and more. The book is in his voice, so the reader spends a lot of time inside his head, which is a confusing place. He dithers, he cries, he can’t make a decision and keeps saying that he’s sorry. It got to the point where I was skipping forward just so I didn’t have to spend anymore time in his head.
I liked the Bake Off setting, and I loved Tariq. 3 stars.
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed as in this review are completely my own.
I liked this okay but I didn't feel like it was up to Alexis Hall's usual splendor! I found the characters hard to connect with overall.
I love Alexis Hall and the first in the series a lot. This one was also good, love baking romance, Paris def has anxiety and potentially more, I thought it was very realistic showcase. And I think the chracter of Tariq probably deserved more from the author, not that Paris wasn't a good fit, but waht it means to be Muslim in these times is a real thing and some consequences of Paris's reactions would impact Tariq in more than just Paris' mental health.
I’m a big fan of Great British Bake Off and I love when novels put their characters in similar competitions. It was partially for that reason that I read Alexis Hall’s Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake back in 2021 (review here). Unfortunately, I was really upset with one aspect of the plot and the rest of the book was soured. BUT. After reading more of Hall’s work, I thought I’d give the semi-connected series another go. And I’m glad I did as I enjoyed Paris Daillencourt Is About to Crumble.
Here’s the book’s description:
Paris Daillencourt is a recipe for disaster. Despite his passion for baking, his cat, and his classics degree, constant self-doubt and second-guessing have left him a curdled, directionless mess. So when his roommate enters him in Bake Expectations, the nation’s favourite baking show, Paris is sure he’ll be the first one sent home.
But not only does he win week one’s challenge—he meets fellow contestant Tariq Hassan. Sure, he’s the competition, but he’s also cute and kind, with more confidence than Paris could ever hope to have. Still, neither his growing romance with Tariq nor his own impressive bakes can keep Paris’s fear of failure from spoiling his happiness. And when the show’s vicious fanbase confirms his worst anxieties, Paris’s confidence is torn apart quicker than tear-and-share bread.
But if Paris can find the strength to face his past, his future, and the chorus of hecklers that live in his brain, he’ll realize it’s the sweet things in life that he really deserves.
Paris is, like some desserts, an acquired taste. He has pretty serious anxiety that he hasn’t addressed because he doesn’t know he needs to - he just thinks he is the way he is and that’s all there is to it. But he makes excuses for himself that I had no time for, especially after he started getting help. I’m not sure how much of the “omg I’m the worst ever” was part of the anxiety (Yes, I know it would be a huge part) but there were still some instances where I felt he should have behaved better. Perhaps I’m wrong. I don’t have anxiety like Paris so I can’t fully get into his head but I know it’s tough. I wish I could remember some of the specific examples but, alas, I read this one so long ago (oops).
I loved the baking show aspects of the book, obviously, and that the book was divided up by each episode. It helped keep track of time in a fun way. It was always fun to see what the bakers were making each week and I always liked when the whole cast was hanging out together.
The romance in this one was a delight - even with all of the awkward and terrible moments. I respected Tariq so much and wish I could be more like him. He knew who he was and wasn’t about to apologize for not being a stereotypical British baker. Is it wrong to say I think he might have been too good for Paris? It might be, right? Whether they were truly right for each other, I don’t entirely know, but the romantic in me was expecting more of a romance novel and so I was rooting for a Happily Ever After between the two of them.
Paris Daillencourt Is About to Crumble was a cute read with funny moments but a lot of really heavy topics and topics that should be tackled in contemporary reads. Alexis Hall doesn’t always deliver a total winner to me but I continue to read his books because I appreciate his talent and humour and the ability to make me look at the world a little differently than I did when I started the book.
*An egalley of this novel was provided by Forever via NetGalley in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*
It's taken me way too long to write this review. I adore Alexis Hall's writing style. Freaking adore it. Paris Daillencourt was no different. The witty writing shone through. I was so, so excited to be able to pick up a book with relatable mental health content. But whew. I don't think I was prepared for how hard this would hit. I had to take so many breaks, because being inside Paris' brain was like being inside my own head. And I didn't necessarily like it. Which made me spiral too many times about if I didn't like Paris, how many people truly didn't like me, just because of how my brain works? It was kind of exhausting to think about.
Props to Alexis for how spot on the anxiety rep was. It really, really was so accurate. But also not easy to read about. Or review, apparently. Regardless, I love this baking show world and friend group, and would absolutely continue my journey with them. Thanks to Forever for a review copy!
I have... mixed feelings.
On one hand, I appreciate the anxiety representation and how Paris showed the negative sides of constantly being anxious however sometimes it was a big too much?
Alot of the book felt scripted, which technically speaking, every book is but conversations between characters felt like the author was writing a stand up sketch and every interaction needed at least 5 jokes.
Paris as a character is, complicated. He is insensitive at times and snobbish but alot of times its blamed on his anxiety/ low self esteem that is causing his words to come out so harshly. However Paris messing up happens constantly. The 30-60% mark was almost painful to read because the same scenes of Paris messing up happened repeatedly but then, he got diagnosed with GAD and got on medication and the book got more enjoyable.
Overall this book was messy. Paris as a character was interesting and he definitely wasn't perfect but I wish he would have gotten help sooner in the book as it would have made it more bearable. I also wish we would have gotten some final interaction with his parents, seeing as he consistently texts them and never hears a response. I think this book needed more guidance and time editing.
DNF @ 28%
I can't get into this one at all. Normally Hall's books work for me but this one sadly does not. The writing feels off and I just do not like Paris. Sad I couldn't connect. Hopefully Hall's next book is better for me.
I dunno if it was me or the book but I just couldn’t get into this one. I will probably try again at another time
I had a bit of a tough time getting through this one, just because Paris's anxiety was so intense -- not holding that against him! But it's definitely hard to read about.
Paris Daillencourt is about to Crumble tells the story of love and baking. Two very sweet things!
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I am a fan of the Great British Baking Show and queer romance so this had all the ingredients I loved. Alexis Hall is a very talented writer and always delivers. This book was no different.
I was given this book in exchange for my honest opinion. Thank you to Grand Central Publishing and NetGalley for this ARC.
Paris is a mess. He suffers from near-crippling anxiety if he steps one toe outside his routine. So when his roommate signs him up for Bake Expectations, he is an even bigger mess. There are Reasons for some of his inner monologue, but they are spoilery, so read the book to find out.
Tariq has more confidence in his pretty polished fingernail than Paris has in his whole being. And as they explore their attraction, there are some bumps as they adjust expectations of the other.
Paris Daillencourt is About to Crumble is Alexis Hall’s second novel in their recent food cooking competition series. However; I preferred the first novel to the second in this situation.
Paris had many quirks and characterizations that I enjoyed reading but quickly got annoyed with forty percent through. Every character has different reactions to different audiences; however. While I enjoyed the setting of the novel and the cooking competition, I wasn’t a fan of the endless self doubt that was featured throughout.