Cover Image: Love at 350°

Love at 350°

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✨ Review ✨ Love at 350° by Lisa Peers

Even though this is aNoThEr queer cooking show romance, I was not disappointed. This leaned in more to the cooking show story than the romance, I think, and so, in some ways, I think it read more like women's fiction. I really liked this about it -- the romance was present, but sometimes was just there on the side burner.

The book features Tori, a recently-divorced mom of twins who's one-half of a biochemistry of baking teaching duo at a local high school. When her twins nominate her for a baking show, she meets Kendra, hot chef and cookie-queen of the Pacific coast. In some ways, the insta-attraction is quick but the romance is definitely slow slow burn since it's contractually forbidden.

I really loved the way that this talked about baking and why it matters to the characters. The other contestants on the show were lovable and there wasn't a super vicious sense of competition either -- bringing forth all the best bake off sorts of feelings. Definitely a super cozy baking read!

I listened to maybe 1/3 of this on audio and enjoyed the narration!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Genre: women's fiction, f/f contemporary romance (light on the romance)
Setting: Bay Area / wine country
Reminds me of: Love & Other Disasters by Anita Kelly
Pub Date: Oct 10, 2023

Read this if you like:
⭕️ baking show books
⭕️ queer romances that are lighter on the romance
⭕️ ALL THE DESSERTS

Thanks to Random House, Dial Press Trade Paperback, PRHAudio and #netgalley for an advanced e-copy of this book!

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When two women meet as judge and contestant on the set of a TV baking competition, they must decide what they’re willing to risk for the ultimate prize in this wholesome and delectable debut.
Food is their love language, but can they follow a recipe for romance?
_
Always enjoy a story with a baking show and this one was a good setup for the show. You got to see different parts of the production, the actual baking, the contestants getting to know eachother. It was well done. Also some light sabotage to make it interesting. The romance was forbidden and sweet. Loved their secret notes and slow start. Their back stories and basically late in life love stories are great. Love after divorce and kids heading to college.

Thank you random house for the e-ARC for my honest and voluntary review.

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** Thank you NetGalley and Random House for the ARC and chance to read and review **

“How much does a dream cost if you don’t try to make it come true”

Synopsis:
Part high school chemistry and part baker, Tori dreams of opening her own bakery one day. In the meantime, her twins enter her in a TV baking competition where she meets Kendra, a judge for the competition, who is *definitely* off-limits.

Review:
This was not your typical rom-com and I think that’s why I loved it so much! It was definitely heavy on the food/competition aspect with a little romance, but it was filled with fun twists and great characters!

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I love a baking competition in a book - I just love it. This book was SO enjoyable, and I read it in two sittings. I just could not get enough of it. Slow burn, baking humor, all the things. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a digital ARC of this book.

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Tori Moore is a chemistry teacher, an avid home baker, and her twins are leaving for college soon, leaving her with an empty nest. Before they go though, her kids sign her up to be on Bake-o-Rama, a TV baking competition, where she meets cold and grumpy judge Kendra Campbell.

Lessons in Chemistry meets The Great British Bake-off, California style, in this deliciously slow burn sapphic love story. I loved Tori, her kids, her friends, her baking prowess. The way she and Kendra got around the no-fraternizing clause of their contracts was delightful, and the friendship and flirtation between the two was so much fun to watch! I totally loved this sweet baking romance!

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the advanced digital reader's copy (ARC) in exchange for an honest review!

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I genuinely haven’t read another romance or book like this one. I thought this book was super unique with its premise being a bake off type contest. This book firmly fits within the slow burn. I wouldn’t say this book really had any spice in it at all. While yes it is a romance, it leans heavily toward women’s fiction. I really liked that the book featured a sapphic romance and the main character was more mature. I don’t think there’s many books that fit that niche out there. Representation matters! I think if you liked Lessons in Chemistry, but wanted more of a light hearted and less political you will absolutely love this book. It has the same vibe of science in the kitchen, but it’s less about fighting for equal rights and more of just enjoying the past time. Both main characters have fear arcs as they both learn important lessons and you will love the ending.

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Tori is a high school chemistry teacher by day and home baker by night. When her twin teenagers convince her to audition for a baking competition show, no part of her thinks she’ll actually make the cut, but she does. She immediately catches the eye of notoriously cutthroat judge, Kendra Campbell. Throughout the competition, the two find it difficult to keep their distance and find themselves drawn to each other. But their contract forbids any romance from happening between them.

I’m a sucker for a baking show romance. Falling in love surrounded by delicious pastries WITH the added drama of reality tv? Count me in. What made this book stand out from other cooking show romances, is the two main characters. Both women are in their 40s, giving them a maturity we don’t always see in romance novels. But more importantly, they were incredible strong women breaking the mold in their own way. This story was filled with self-discovery from both characters, and each had a beautiful journey and was honestly a bit on the lighter side in terms of romance. This story left me with a hungry stomach and a smile on my face.

Thank you to Random House Publishing and NetGalley for the advance copy.

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Thank you to Dial Press and NetGalley for the advanced reader copy and to PRH Audio for the complimentary audiobook. These opinions are my own.

This debut puts a new spin on a cooking competition show romance. One of the love interests, Kendra, is a judge on the show. I enjoyed that we got more of a behind the scenes view of the show.

Tori is a high school teacher who has taught her students how to cook with chemistry. So she is a particularly good fit for contestant describing her baking process to the camera. This book made me so hungry. I want all the baked goods described. The recipe for one of the most intriguing bakes was included, and I definitely made something similar the same night I finished reading.

I really appreciated that both characters were in their forties. That's something that a cooking show format allows, but I have only seen much younger characters so far. I also liked the portrayal of two strong women who broke stereotypes.

Barrie Kreinik, one of my favorite narrators, voiced the audiobook spectacularly. I really enjoyed this new sapphic romance.

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Love at 350°-Lisa Peers

Out now!

⭐️⭐️⭐️

Tori Moore is a high school chemistry, avid home baker, mother of college bound twins and soon to be contestant on the Bake-o-Rama television show.

Kendra Campbell is a restaurateur, cookie queen and the well-known, ruthless judge on Bake-o-Rama.

As the two meet during the production of the show, they have almost instant attraction. However, they can’t act on their attraction due to the no fraternizing clause in their contracts.

As things heat up in the kitchen, can Tori and Kendra continue to keep their distance?

This was a sweet sapphic romance. I really enjoyed the baking competition aspect. It was nice to see the friendships the competitors built. I loved Mel!

I really appreciated how Tori and Kendra’s relationship developed. They really supported each other through their current situations.

I wish the ending would have wrapped up more of the storylines and not been so open ended.

Overall I enojyed this one and recommend for anyone looking for a "sweet" romance.

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group for my advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

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I am always amazed at books written like the popular reality tv shows, but when they’re cooking shows? Even more amazed!!

Bake-o-Rama is a reality baking show bringing in bakers from all over the country. The ultimate prize is $100K.

Tori is a recently divorced mom of twins who is a teach by day and a baker by night. Her dream is to open her own bakery, but with the divorce, there’s a lot standing in the way. When Tori is signed up to be a contestant on the show, the imposter syndrome is strong and she doubts herself. Once she makes it through to the taping, she knows she can do it.

Enter Kendra, one of the 2 judges on the baking reality show. She’s been career driven for all her life, and never had enough time for relationships. At least that overcame her career.

When Kendra and Tori start a friendly secret chat in passing notes via the weekly gift boxes, both women question it all. Is it really worth potentially ruining Kendra’s career and hindering Tori’s new outlook on life to even admit to the feelings that have sprung up over the course of filming?

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Tori Moore is a high school educator, who teaches the biochem of baking, a home baker and a single mother. Her 2 children are about to go off to college and leave her an empty nester. Her kids sign up for the tv baking competition American Bake-o-Rama, and she makes it onto the show where she is hoping to win $100,000 that would help her pursue her dream of opening up her own bakery.

On the show, things don't go the way Tori expects and she catches the eye of celebrity chef, and judge Keandra Campbell. Throughout the 6 weeks of filming they try and stay away from each other but subtly communicate and get to know each other. They might get more out of this competition than either of them expected.

A SAPPHIC BAKING COMPETITION ROMANCE, is exactly what I needed in life. Also it was refreshing for the romance to be of older characters. I also enjoyed that there was a big focus on the food and baking portion of the story. My big qualm is was I did not buy into the romance, it felt very insta love and because the romance was not a big focus it did not feel well developed or believable.

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Introduction:
Lisa Peers’ "Love at 350" is a delicious blend of passion, pastry, and the perseverance of two strong women striving to make their mark.

Plot Summary:
Tori Moore, a high school chemistry teacher and baking enthusiast, embarks on a journey not just to win a baking competition, but to reclaim her self-worth following a painful divorce. The stakes are high, with the promise of not only a significant monetary reward but a chance for Tori to realize her long-cherished dream of owning a bakery.

Parallel to Tori’s journey, we meet Kendra Campbell, a fiercely ambitious celebrity chef. Kendra grapples with societal expectations, trying to recalibrate her stern approach in an industry that has often been unkind to women.

Strengths:
Kendra and Tori are multifaceted characters, who have a strong character arc. They both grew immensely as the book progressed. I enjoyed learning about baking, baking shows, and the complexities of the kitchen.

Areas of Improvement:
Without spoiling anything, I wish we could have spent more time with Tori and Kendra as a couple. Maybe adding an epilogue with helped with that. The romance aspect of the book felt scaled back, even though it was marketed as a romance. Also, sometimes I was confused about which POV we were reading about, so it would have helped to put each woman’s name at the beginning of each chapter.


Conclusion:
I would read another book by Lisa Peers!

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Cooking shows seem to be a popular setting for romance novels right now and I'm here for it. Love at 350 is sweet and funny, while also delivering the fun of a baking competition and the meanderings of recipe development.

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2.5 rounded up to a 3. Love At 350 isn't my idea of a rom-com. It's primarily centered around food and a baking competition- with barely there romance and no real comedy, wit, or banter.

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*3.5

I did enjoy the book but Kendra and Tori did not talk enough at all. They literally talked maybe twice a week. I could have survived if maybe on one of the notes that they wrote to each other they put their phone number. I just wanted to see them together more. On that note there isn't an epilogue which is weird considering they don't get together until the last three pages of the book.

I received an arc through netgalley.

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- Oh my goodness, LOVE AT 350° is everything I wanted it to be. Delicious food descriptions, tense baking moments, and the pining from a distance! This book is a delight.
- I adored that both our main characters were over 40, with Tori having teenage kids and contentiously divorced from her wife. I loved that she and Kendra both knew themselves (including their weaknesses) and still grew emotionally - both together and separately - in a believable way.
- This book is a suuuper slow burn, no steam romance. It's all about the longing, the meaningful glances, the coded, hidden messages. It puts the focus on the characters' internal growth in a way I found so satisfying.

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I love a good baking romance and this one is great! Kendra is a chef and one of the judges of Bake-o-rama, known for her gruff reaction to the contestants. Tori is a high school teacher whose twins nominate her for the show the summer before they leave for college. When Tori makes it on to the show, sparks begin to fly between her and Kendra. Due to a "no fraternization" clause in their contracts, both women do their best to hide their feelings. Told in alternating perspectives, this is a sweet romance with a satisfying ending.

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This book was the epitome of a warm hug, a freshly baked apple pie, or a cup of hot cocoa on a winter’s day!! Wholesome and cute in all the right ways. The vibes were flawless! It gave great British bake off with a bit of a forbidden romance!

The characters were great and fully flushed out, real, and like able (for the most part😂)! The plot was more focused on the -com part of romcom with a dash of romance but I didn’t really mind that! It featured queer/lgbtqia+ rep, Women in STEM rep, divorce rep, Middle age rep, an much much more!!

For me this book was fully a winner, and I can’t wait to read more from this author in the future!!

4.5⭐️

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Dial Press Publishing for the review copy!

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I received a copy from Netgalley and the publisher.

So to say I was confused by this story when the romance is minimal and the title has love in it is an understatement. While I generally enjoy baking shows and baking show themed romances, and I genuinely like this book I think it's wildly mismarketed. It's a baking show romance that's HEAVY on the baking show. I learned more about baking and the side characters than the main two that were supposed to fall in love spent interacting. And yes I understand completely they're in a tight spot being a contestant and a judge, but like where's the fun in not having them really interact and almost get caught. Idk seems a little lackluster. That being said this book definitely makes you want to pull out your baking equipment and get in there and try a new baked good lol.

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As her twin children are about to leave for college,Tori is still adjusting to being divorced, with her ex-wife now living her dream on the other side of the country, having left Tori a few years prior, essentially holding the emotional and financial bag of finishing raising their twins.

Meanwhile, Kendra is literally working herself to the bone while struggling with the reality of tiny profit margins, rising rents, and constant staff turnover at both her small chain of bakeries and her flagship restaurant, Gamma Raye, while wondering where her life has gone.

I need to start by saying that I haven’t been pulled this hard into a straight (ha!) romance for a good long while. On its face, it’s a simple story about what happens next when people come to crossroads, set within the trappings of a tv “reality” baking show, but the execution made it something richer.

The writing voice grabbed me from the first chapter, but I suspect that someone who actually enjoys cooking (especially baking), and/or watches so-called “reality tv”, would love this book even more than I did.

And I loved it quite a lot!

It really is lovely to see both women feeling those first flutters of attraction and interest and heat, and more so because they are also dealing with all the cumulative baggage of four decades of living, of dreams attempted and abandoned, realized and soured; and the stakes are high for both, not just personally, but professionally.

“It wasn’t that she didn’t want to fall in love again. She just didn’t know if she could.” (Tori’s point of view, Chapter 1)

“More than once, she’d heard the words, “It’s just food!” But it was never “just food”. It was her livelihood, her artistic temperament, her ambition, and her personal history” (Kendra’s point of view, Chapter 2)

The book is structured around the shooting of the baking show over the course of eight weeks, and on the instant connection between Kendra and Tori; however, the rest of their lives do not go on hiatus. Kendra is facing a crisis regarding her restaurant; Tori’s ex-wife keeps bringing long-distance drama into her life, and then there’s that pesky “no fraternizing” clause in their contracts.

Essentially, “life keeps happening, whether it’s convenient or not, what are you going to do with it, then?”).

At the start, the chapters alternate in point of view between Tori and Kendra; through their eyes, we meet the secondary characters organically: Tori’s kids, worried about her turning into a hermit when they leave; her friends, trying to draw her out for the same reason. Kendra’s older brother, also her financial manager, hoping to help her find a better life/work balance while ensuring she’s financially secure.

While we don’t spend a lot of time with these characters, they’re written in a way that conveys that each of them have lives of their own, with interests that intersect or diverge from Tori’s and Kendra’s.

The twins show their love for their mother by getting her into the show; Kendra’s and Alden’s sibling dynamic is expressed through the repeated use of the phrase, “as someone who loves you” (followed by sarcasm, reassurance, criticism, etc). These relationships are well done without taking up too much space.

As the story goes on, the changes in point of view become shorter as the stakes grow higher, both in terms of the baking competition and the two protagonists’ personal lives, and as the undeniable attraction between them grows, changing them for the better at the same time that it endangers both their futures.

There is something particularly satisfying in feeling how Tori’s and Kendra’s feelings for each other deepen, how they solidify into something more real than either expected, without having them revert to teenage angst. Tori struggles with impostor syndrome after decades of being in a marraige with someone who constantly made her interests and talents be inconsequential, smaller, unimportant. Kendra is trying to soften edges sharpened by decades of having to prove herself worthy in a male-dominated field.

And yet, they find a way to connect with each other without outright violating the terms of the blasted contract (we even get a bit of an epistolary romance, which I absolutely loved).

While the lion’s share of characterization goes to the two main characters, the author introduces the crew producing the show very efficiently; with a couple of lines from Tori’s perspective, we get quite clear portraits of Zack, the efficient and long suffering production assistant; Trevor, the well respected chef and main judge; Buddy, the insufferable Lothario-wannabe tv exec; Anika, the bubbly host, who’s nonetheless heartily sick of all the cutesy puns, and so on.

There is no romanticizing of the making of a ‘reality tv’ show; we get to see ‘how the sausage is made’, warts and all: non-disclosure agreements, internal politics, power struggles, and so on. There’s even a bit of a mystery, complete with red herrings and subtle clues that keep the reader guessing.

The solutions to the different conflicts in the story are well executed; there’s just a bit of fantasy in how all the pieces come together at the end, but the whole works really well, and I’m convinced that Tori and Kendra will make their relationship work.

A final note: there are only a few kisses in the book, and those at the very end; and yet, the sexual tension between the leads starts growing from early in the story. Those kisses are earned.

Love at 350° gets 8.75 out of 10

Edit: I was very tired when I wrote this review, which means I left something really important out: the narrative goes to lengths not to address race, in a story set in a very multicultural city in a country that describes itself as “a melting pot”.

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