cover image Love & Other Disasters

Love & Other Disasters

Anita Kelly. Forever, $15.99 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-1-5387-5484-9

Kelly’s sweet debut novel (after the novella Our Favorite Songs) turns up the heat on a reality cooking competition as two opponents fall in love. As the first openly nonbinary contestant on Chef’s Special, a savory spin on the Great British Baking Show, London Parker wants to cook great food, represent their community, and (hopefully) win some money to start a nonprofit, not start a relationship with their adorably chaotic competitor Dahlia Woodson. Dahlia’s life is in a state of upheaval: one year after her divorce, she feels stuck in a town she hates with a mountain of debt, and she hopes that Chef’s Special will be her ticket out. London and Dahlia are immediately attracted to each other, but London is uninterested in a fling and worries about complicating the competition. As they spend weeks working alongside each other, however, their casual flirting builds into genuine romance. But cracks begin to show in their relationship when the producers pit London against a transphobic contestant and shove Dahlia to the center of the drama. It’s a familiar setup, but a nonbinary protagonist in a mainstream romance is cause for excitement and the characters spark with chemistry. The heartwarming result will leave readers eager for more from Kelly. Agent: Kim Lionetti, Bookends Literary. (Jan.)