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.
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Available on NetGalley
While I am normally not picking up romances, Love & Other Disasters is easily one of my new favorites. I am so glad I picked it up because I was absolutely buzzing after reading it and have not stopped thinking about it since. The story follows Dahlia and London as they compete in the TV cooking competition, "Chef's Special," and navigate their feelings for one another. Notably, London is also non-binary, and their experiences with coming out and moving through life as non-binary are explored with respect and sensitivity, which I appreciated.
I found the romance a lot more realistic in terms of building interest in one another compared to most romances that I have read, and I think the book is a great gateway into more adult romance. It is fresh and engaging, and I read through it in just one sitting. Anita Kelly pulled off writing from both perspectives very well, which brought a lot more depth to Dahlia and London. Both were loveable characters, and their determination in trusting themselves as individuals. Overall, it is going to be a long-term favorite, and I am very excited to read more books by Anita Kelly in the future.
I received an e-copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank Netgalley and Forever (Grand Central Publishing) for this opportunity.
I started this book at work on my lunch break which was a horrible mistake because that meant I couldn’t read it straight through in one sitting. Love & Other Disasters has occupied by every thought for the past day and a half as I read it. From the moment you start this book, you will not want to do anything but read it until the end.
Our two main characters Dahlia and London are two contestants on a reality cooking competition called “Chef’s Special.” They have a bit of a ‘crumby’ start, but find themselves in a ‘sweet,’ ‘sizzling’ romance throughout the recording of the show. (I promise the book is better than my half-assed food puns!)
This book has queer, pansexual, and nonbinary representation all within the two main characters. There are some plot points about transphobia, but Kelly treats London with love and respect. It is never coming from Dahlia or any heavily featured character.
Anita Kelly has proved herself to be a great talent in romcoms.
This book was actually one of the cutest things I have ever read. My mouth literally hurt because I was smiling so much. There was a beautiful romance story that touched on some great topics. The representation in this book was great and the love story was fantastic. This was the first book I have read with a non-binary character, and I really enjoyed it. I would definitely recommend and I will 100% be buying this when it comes out! Thank you to NetGalley and Forever publishing for letting me enjoy and review this amazing book!
Beautiful, breathtaking, never been done before. I loved this book so much, they got together fairly fast but I loved it. The relationship between London and Dahlia was done so well, having both povs was excellent.
i received an arc from netgalley.
This was a cute romcom that I devoured in one sitting. The rep in this is some of the best I've seen in the genre, and it honestly is the type of romcom that warms your heart and has you squealing with glee. Dahlia and London have such a cute relationship and I loved the cooking show element.
Love & Other Disasters is an extremely cute contemporary romance centered around two bakers in competition on "Chef's Special," a Food Network-esque reality tv show that brings in amateur bakers. This is another take on the grumpy-sunshine trope, although the grumpiness doesn't last long! London is a nonbinary contestant navigating their public identity amidst a show that tries to play up transphobia for drama and Dahlia is a queer woman with a ton of insecurities and instability in her life. Set in LA, there are lots of fun outings in which these two get closer and discover that maybe baking isn't the only thing they have in common. I was very emotionally invested in their romance and I think that it is well paced, with realistic conflict in the ultimate act.
Other things to love: lots of side characters that round out the cast, including some very endearing elderly women contestants and London's twin sister.. There's tons of delicious food and of course, some great banter. The only issue that I had was that one of the key reasons that Dahlia got divorced is never talked about with London, as they are looking to form a relationship. It felt like something that would be pretty important to discuss when considering a possible future together (but also -- this is a romance, so it can't get THAT serious, right?).
I highly recommend this if you love romance and want something light and fast to read, and also recommend Kelly's other books (two novellas centered around a karaoke bar!!). I can't wait to see what she releases in the future. Thanks to NetGalley for an early review copy, all opinions are my own. 4.5 stars.
I loved this book so much. Between the cooking, the yearning, and the characters who have so much going on in their heads, Anita Kelly hit a lot of my happy buttons. Love and Other Disasters will probably be on a lot of best of lists and most anticipated lists next year. So, plan your pre-orders accordingly.
London and Dahlia have been selected to be contestants on a tv cooking competition show for home cooks (not professionals). There is a substantial monetary prize, and for each of them it would make a big difference in their lives. Dahlia is recently divorced and struggling with the guilt she feels about her failed marriage. London is about to introduce themselves to the world as non-binary. Dahlia thinks London looks interesting and tries to strike up a conversation. London is initially irritated by Dahlia and her hair, and then fascinated.
They strike up a friendship and then a romantic relationship as the reality competition swirls around them. Other people bump into their world, but Kelly keeps it largely focused on Dahlia and London. It felt like a comfy chair in a cozy nook.
Heat levels can be tough to convey and what’s hot is so subjective. The emotion that Kelly conveys in her romantic scenes felt so intimate and steamy to me. London and Dahlia are so sweet and tender with each other, and they come into the relationship so bruised from the world that I could feel the exquisite pain of being touched lovingly.
Anita Kelley has two other books out right now that I’ve heard good things about, Sing Anyway and Our Favorite Songs. I’m so glad I have a little bit of a backlist to dive into because I loved their writing and I want more of it.
I received this as an advance reader copy from the publisher via NetGalley. My opinions are my own.
Honestly, I loved this book so much. It was beautiful. I smiled throughout so many of this book, both at the love, the sex, and the identity discussions. Even when I had tears in my eyes at London confronting their dad and reading the messages they were sent on social media after living their truth ... every second of this book was perfect. I didn't know I needed this book until I had it - a bisexual female MC and a pansexual nonbinary MC in a full-length romance novel? I will never be the same.
This book was absolutely phenomenal. I've never read one by Kelly before, but I'd heard rave reviews about their previous novellas and couldn't wait to pick this up based on the premise. It's a story about love, but also love that asks for vulnerability and acceptance from both sides. I can't wait to read more from this author.
This book was so good I feel the need to start reading it again after just finishing it. Dahlia and London are perfectly imperfect in so many ways and they kept me entertained throughout. I loved their interactions with each other and with their various family members. The cooking show filming served as a great catalyst for throwing them together and I loved that Dahlia was so protective of London and their identity right from the beginning. This book addresses deep issues that affect the LGBTQ community every day in a way that keeps me hopeful for the future. Loved this book and can’t wait for more to come from Anita Kelly.
Over the past year I've read my fair share of queer books, but nearly enough with non-binary leads, and I honestly think this is my new favourite! This had me in a constant goofy smile and was just so darn adorable. I only had time to read between work/on lunch breaks and every time I was forced to put it down, it was a struggle.
I love that Dahlias story wasn't centred on coming out, and that while some of London's story did involve a bit about people not respecting their pronouns, the main gut wasn't really about that. I found was more about self growth, acceptance, and a good old fashioned cheesy rom com about a couple of people falling in love when they least expected it.
London and Dahlia are my new favourite fictional couple.I cannot recommend this book enough and cannot wait to get my hands on a hard copy!
*eARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
firstly, i am so happy a book that represents the kind of relationship i want exists, i've never read f/nb before because i haven't heard of many f/nb romances out there but this exists!!
the nonbinary rep is so good!!!! and so accurate!!!!!! london is allowed to exist fully as they are, as attractive and not as educational for the cis characters (especially dahlia) or readers - it's much more about them existing and moving through the world as a nonbinary person, which was done so well. got a bit emotional seeing my pronouns on page for the first time i won't lie.
i will say that i thought, aside from their gender, they weren't as fully fleshed out as dahlia - the narrative felt 60/40 balanced in favour of her more than them, however i did really enjoy her character development. the relationship was a tad insta love-y, probably not the world's best execution of the grumpy/sunshine trope but still good! (spoiler for non-explicit discussion of sex) <spoiler>i did really enjoy the intimate scenes as well - anita kelly managed to be clear about what was happening without using gendered terms for london. a tiny thing but it was mentioned that london wore a binder, but them getting it off was brushed over kind of quickly which isn't super realistic those things tend to be pretty tight. still great though.</spoiler>
additionally the cooking show setting was really good and appropriately dramatic - i think the other contestants could have been more fleshed out.
overall i really like anita kelly's writing style and am looking forward to getting a copy of this and also reading her karaoke novellas and later books!
This whole story is just yes. Yes to the cute MC’s, Dahlia and London. Yes to the interesting cooking show competition storyline. Yes to the gradual, slow burn relationship that crackles the entire story. So much yes for side characters with dimension that provide balance and realism to the story. This story was a great read and I recommend others check it out.
Thanks to NetGalley and the Publisher for the ARC.
Oh my gosh, I loved this book so much! Thanks to Netgalley for letting me read this one early!
We follow Dahlia and London as they are contestants on a cooking show, where 100k is up for grabs. Both have their reasons for participating, as well as their own ideas for what they'd use the prize money for. Dahlia is drowning in student loans, and London wants to start up a non-profit as well as make a statement as the show's first non-binary contestant. But neither of them expected to find each other, let alone fall in love.
I read this book at the perfect time in my life. I connected so much with Dahlia's character so much because, much like Dahlia, I'm coming to a crossroads in my own life and deciding what I want to do and the kind of person I want to be. She's very hard on herself for her past mistakes, and almost doesn't believe she's good enough to be on the show. It was wonderful to see her come into her own and discover her passions. I was also super invested in London's rocky relationship with their father, and how everything would turn out.
London and Dahlia's relationship was so sweet. London was into Dahlia from the very beginning, while it took Dahlia a beat to even realize London was an option. Watching them fall in love was so sweet, and I also really enjoyed the steamier parts as well.
Overall, this was an absolutely FANTASTIC read. I can't wait for it to come out and other readers to discover how great this story is. I look forward to anything else Anita Kelly puts out in the future!
Love & Other Disasters is so achingly sweet and tender. Such a beautiful foodie romance. London and Dahlila are so adorable, relatable and easy to root for. I’m always a sucker for forced proximity and competition tropes and this book had it all. The tension and flirtation at the beginning kept me turning the pages 🥰
I went in to this book excited for a nonbinary romance lead and some delicious bakes. This book delivered that and more - Dahlia and London's romance was full of heart, vulnerability, and most delightful of all- earnest and playful silliness, with a setting and background characters that felt just as real as London's fascination with Dahlia's hair.
“I don’t want to be perfect, because I know I’m not. I want this”—she touched London’s chest—“to be real.”
Y’all, this book is SO GOOD. I’ve been excited to read this for months and the anticipation completely paid off. LOVE & OTHER DISASTERS is a tender and compelling romance about a queer woman and a nonbinary person who fall in love on the set of a reality cooking show. While the food and the competition are fun aspects of the story, the true heart is the love between London and Dahlia. Both of them feel so achingly real and the chemistry between them is simmering right from the beginning. There’s a bit of a sunshine/grump dynamic - Dahlia is creative, talkative, goofy, and drawn to adventure, while London is skillful, precise, a bit more controlled. London’s also dealing with so much bullshit - both as the first openly nonbinary person on Chef’s Special and generally - and the reader is privy to how that shows up for them in their daily life and in their relationships, and how they go about being who they are and celebrating where they’ve landed with their gender. I absolutely loved seeing a recently divorced queer woman in this story and I could relate intensely to Dahlia’s experiences - making the hard decision to choose her own happiness, struggling to find her footing financially and otherwise post-divorce, dealing with disappointment from family members, learning from her mistakes, and that complex feeling of being completely unmoored and gloriously free at the same time. This book is delightfully steamy, and the sex scenes have so much depth - the characters feel insecure and vulnerable, they laugh and care for and validate each other, they communicate about what they want and get consent. It’s so ridiculously soft and authentic and sexy. And sometimes the food aspect of the novel makes its way into the bedroom as well, if you catch my drift. I loved how the characters maintain their independence and resist the urge to completely subsume themselves in each other - it’s just so goddamned healthy! This queer romance is an utter blessing and I can’t wait for it to be out in the world next year. Thank you so much Forever Books for sending this queer an ARC!
“Do your worst, Woodson. Let’s be scared together.”
Content warnings: misgendering, lack of family acceptance, transphobia
A queer romance with a non-binary mc?? AND A COOKING COMPETITION!! I felt like this book was meant for me. This book was so fluffy and I couldn’t stop smiling and rooting for these two characters to end up together. Honestly want to tell everyone I know about this book. London, our non-binary mc was deeply relatable and I loved their character so much along with the development they had to go through to finally be with Dahlia. The 3rd act was really well written and Im overall looking forward to more from this author and more in this series. Thank you so much to netgalley for providing me with an ARC!
Love & Other Disasters is, to me, home in every sense of the word. It's like this book was written for me personally. Silly, sexy, sweet and sincere, this book checks every single box when it comes to a great romance. I was completely sucked into Dahlia and London's romance and swept into the delightful world that Anita Kelly created. As a queer and non-binary reader, seeing messy and wonderful characters that represented my own identities and life experiences work through their trauma and get their happily ever after was invaluable, validating, and exhilarating. Love & Other Disasters is one for the ages, and one I will hold dear to my heart for the rest of my life.
Love & Other Disasters was such a fun and sizzling romcom that touched on prevalent issues in our society today about representation. London and Dahlia were fun and quirky. Abita Kelly did an amazing job highlighting their romance while also remaining sensitive to the issues of non-binary representation and coming out.
I loved how compatible Dahlia and London were. The cooking show element was also super fun and kept me smiling from ear to ear. I also loved how emotional this story was and how each character had their own personal issues they had to work through. This story was not only funny and swoony, but thought provoking and compelling. This was a solid read! 4 stars! ~Ratula
I would like to thank Netgalley and Forever for an advanced copy of this book for an honest review.
The year is coming to the close and I am so glad I squeezed in this read from Forever. Featuring a non-binary MC, a cooking competition, and a romance for the ages, there's a lot to appreciate here. It feels a bit like Rosaline Palmer walked so Love & Other Disasters could run.
When Dahlia finds herself competing on the hit reality show, Chef's Special, she doesn't expect to start catching the feels for her fellow competitor, London. Dahlia is dealing with her own issues, namely getting over her divorce and figuring out what she wants from life, and really needs the prize money to pay off her debt--and make rent. London, meanwhile, is worried about coming out as nonbinary on the show, and wants to use the money to start an LGBTQ nonprofit. Neither of them fit the standard mold of wanting to open a bakery or restaurant, but both have valid reasons for wanting the money. But when the two can't deny their attraction to each other, it becomes hard to talk about what happens after the show.
I really, really enjoyed this book. Romance novels set around reality tv, whether it be fake versions of The Bachlor, or fake cooking or baking shows, are my weakness. I love the fictional peak behind the curtain and seeing how the characters react to these pressure cooker type situations. This is only the second book I've read with a non-binary MC, but this one felt much more real. I think it was incredibly well-done. I also somehow related to Dahlia despite having absolutely nothing in common with her--and that's a true accomplishment for an author.
Thanks to Forever for my eARC. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
5 stars - 9/10
Thank you to Forever and NetGalley for the advance review copy—all opinions on my own!
Love & Other Disasters was a comforting, emotional, tender story set in the world of a competitive cooking show. Watching Dahlia and London fall for each other, I appreciated how the stress of this setting, the looming worry of possibly being eliminated, created strong stakes but never overshadowed the joy of their romance.
The way London loves Dahlia for exactly who she is—her chaos and energy; the way Dahlia loves London for exactly who they are—their dry humor & practical nature—was so affirming and romantic. I also loved how fiercely Dahlia felt protective of London in how their father treated them, and witnessing London stand up for themself in front of their father and demand he stop misgendering them was deeply moving. My heart ached that London needed to give their father that ultimatum, but God was I proud of them for holding strong to what they deserved: to be seen and loved for exactly who they are.
Love & Other Disasters is a feel-good, affirming, delectable debut queer romance that I’m beyond delighted I had the chance to read. I can’t wait for this to be out in the world!
Anita Kelly’s stories are like the best hugs. I simply did not want to put this down and I was both satisfied (because it was perfect) and sad (because it was over) when it ended.
I adored Dahlia and London to pieces. There were parts of Dahlia’s emotional arc that super resonated with me as she’s figuring out next steps in a life that hasn’t turned out as planned. I also loved her even more for not wanting to have children. I’m always here for more child-free couples. London is the first openly nonbinary contestant on Chef’s Special and has to navigate the public stage, as well as their father’s rejection. This also made for some moving, sometimes heartbreaking, scenes and I was glad London had other familial support, as well as Dahlia by their side. Dahlia and London had such great chemistry, making for some great steamy scenes. It wasn’t always smooth sailing between them (one of them could get sent home at any moment! social anxiety! words are hard!), which was so relatable. Their sheer appreciation of and belief in each other had me rooting for them the whole way.
I’m a fan of reality TV food competitions, particularly Top Chef, and I’ve read a few different romances set in this world. Love & Other Disasters is by far my favorite. It had all this great behind-the-scenes and the different challenges were fun to visualize. It made for great banter between Dahlia and London. Chef’s Special highlights amateur chefs and I liked hearing what the different contestants thought they’d do with the money, especially London’s idea. It’s not all sunshine and roses—there’s a transphobic contestant—but there’s nary an abusive producer or cheating contestant. It was truly enjoyable to be in that world. Dahlia and London are still competing against each other so there are high stakes, as well as navigating what happens if one of them gets cut. I was utterly invested as everything unfolded.
It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me hungry. Absolute perfection. I’m excited to read the next book in the series!
Character notes: Dahlia is a 28 year old white queer newspaper copyeditor, amateur chef, and total klutz. London is a 26 year old white pansexual nonbinary podcast audio engineer; they also play the trumpet. This is set in LA and Maryland. London is from Nashville.
Content notes: transphobia, misgendering, rejection by father, FMC got divorced one year ago, social anxiety, on page sex, alcohol, inebriation, cigarettes (secondary character), ableist language, past death of nanny/friend, discussion of parents’ divorce, reference to past marijuana