cover image Chef’s Choice

Chef’s Choice

TJ Alexander. Atria, $17.99 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-1-982189-10-5

Alexander’s swoony sequel to Chef’s Kiss follows Luna O’Shea, a trans woman who finds herself suddenly jobless and scrambling to pay rent in New York City. To make ends meet, she accepts a precarious position fake-dating laconic trans man Jean-Pierre Dominique Gabriel Aubert-Treffle, reluctant heir to his grandfather’s culinary fortune. To claim his birthright as a male heir, per his transphobic grandfather’s outrageous list of demands, Jean-Pierre must successfully prepare “The Menu” (the Aubert-Treffle family’s signature dishes) on camera for an audience of millions with a girlfriend at his side. To fill this role, Luna must figure out fast both how to cook and how to feel about the blunt and stubborn but also charming Jean-Pierre. The banter between leads is addictive with Alexander balancing fish-out-of-water linguistic comedy with achingly sincere emotional beats to excellent effect. The plot itself occasionally needs nudging along, but the exploration of the characters’ gender identities makes many well-trod romance beats feel fresh. As long as Jean-Pierre and Luna are on the page together, readers will be delighted by their odd couple dynamic. Agent: Larissa Melo Pienkowski, Jill Grinberg Literary. (May)