cover image Paris Daillencourt Is About to Crumble (Winner Bakes All #2)

Paris Daillencourt Is About to Crumble (Winner Bakes All #2)

Alexis Hall. Forever, $15.99 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-1-5387-0333-5

Centering the depiction of a romantic protagonist on mental illness is a risk; making that depiction comic is riskier. If anyone can pull it off, it’s Hall (Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake), but even so, this laugh-cry rom-com about anxiety disorder succeeds more as a personal growth story than a love story. Wealthy, white university student Paris Daillencourt’s crippling anxiety means he’s most at ease in his London flat. But his roommate pushes him to compete in a Great British Bake Off–style reality show, and because Paris can’t face conflict, he does as he’s told. Initially the spirals of paralyzing antilogic that dog his every thought have a Robin Williams quality, but once he starts negotiating the flirtatious overtures of Tariq, a Bangladeshi Muslim fellow contestant, the wrecking ball of Paris’s anxiety overcomes the humor. Internalized bias and social pressure exacerbate the damage to the men’s budding relationship, but luckily, as the wince factor rises, expertly sketched supporting characters assume the comedic responsibility. Resolving the lovers’ angst requires something of a fairy tale twist, but the rocky road to their happy ending is thoughtful, worthwhile, and, yes, funny. Series fans will not be disappointed. Agent: Courtney Miller-Callihan, Handspun Literary. (Oct.)