Love & Other Disasters by Anita Kelly

This year for Pride, my goal has been to read books either featuring LGBTQ+ characters or from LGBTQ+ authors (or in some cases, both!). I can’t recall how this book came on my radar but when I saw that it features a non-binary lead character, I thought I’d check it out. I’ve never read a book featuring a non-binary character so I figured it would fit my goal and broaden my horizons. I thought the story was cute and the romance was really sweet. The story follows Dahlia Woodson who is recently divorced and nearly broke as she tries to reinvent herself (and hopefully refill her bank account) on a popular cooking competition but things get off to a rocky start when she literally falls on her face during the first cooking challenge. Then there’s London Parker, also vying for the $100,000 prize, who has also gotten off to a rocky start when they announce their pronouns on national television and then have to try to drown out the trolls and keep their eye on the prize. Falling in love wasn’t in the plan for either of them but London finds themself unable to resist cheery Dahlia. And once Dahlia gets past her embarrassing first interaction with London, she finds them to be impossibly adorable and a lot of fun when they start hanging out. But as the competition heats up and life after the competition begins to loom large, will they have to go their separate ways or will they be able to hold onto the unexpected love they’ve found?

I watch a lot of cooking competitions on Food Network so I always enjoy stories in these settings. Both Dahlia and London had important reasons for wanting to take part in the competition. Dahlia needed the money but also wanted to prove to herself that she could do it and London hoped to gain more visibility for the non-binary community and wanted to use the winnings to further help the community. Falling in love with your competitor is always a good source of drama but then there was the added drama manufactured by the show’s producers to contend with. There was a good deal of angst these two had to contend with. But when they were together, outside of the competition, they were really cute together. Dahlia had a lot of hangups due to her recent divorce and London’s hangups stemmed from not having a relationship since coming out as non-binary. But I loved how they each sort of became a safe place for the other. It was very sweet but there was also a fair amount of steam! I really loved London’s character, I thought their journey of trying to navigate the competition, a new relationship, and dealing with the trolls was well done and I thought they handled it with remarkable strength and poise. I also loved how they were a little bit grumpy but, ultimately, found themselves helpless against Dahlia’s sunshine personality. 

If you’re looking for a cute romance with a decent amount of angst to balance it out, give this one a shot! 

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