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.)
An essential read.”—USA Today
"This chef’s-kiss debut that brilliantly explores the idea of being true to yourself with insight and compassion. In between all the deliciously snarky wit, simmering sexual chemistry, romantic yearning, and quippy banter, Kelly also delivers some moments of romantic hope and happiness that will long resonate with readers."—Booklist, Starred review
"A delicious confection of a story: savory, succulent and also a bit salty in spots...The only bad thing about this book is that even after you’ve gorged on the whole thing, it’ll leave you wanting more."—Bookpage, Starred Review
“Kelly will whet your appetite from the first page, capping off the wonderful feast with the absolute sweetest of happy-ever-afters.”—Kirkus, Starred review
"A stunning debut."—Library Journal
"This debut is delicious in every way."—Buzzfeed Books
"Love & Other Disasters is by turns funny, sweet and hot, but Anita Kelly's emotional river runs deepthis romance will stay with readers long after they've turned the last page. A deeply emotional yet buoyant romantic comedy about finding love and self."—Shelf Awareness
“A sweet debut… 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.”—Publishers Weekly
"Sweet and sexy and wholly delicious. I'm head over heels for these two delightful disasters—three if you count Dahlia's magnificent hair as a separate character. Anita Kelly writes with tremendous warmth and care, and these pages shine with joy."—Rachel Lynn Solomon, author of The Ex Talk
"A delightful celebration of love, food, and the power to changes our lives. Anita Kelly does a lovely job creating characters both unique and relatable and tells a story that leaves the reader glowing with hope."—Karelia Stetz-Waters, author of Satisfaction Guaranteed
"Sweet, spicy, with characters you won’t forget! I loved Dahlia and London’s growing chemistry and witty banter in this amazing foodie romance that had me wanting to eat all the food! But the perfect ingredient in this delicious story was watching how they each carved out space in their lives for each other."—Farah Heron, author of Accidentally Engaged
"With only one book, Anita Kelly has landed among my all-time favorite authors."—Meryl Wilsner, author of Something to Talk About
“Kelly writes wildly charming, exquisitely vibrant, and achingly tender prose and has a unique gift for making readers feel safe, loved, and understood within her pages. This story is both fantastically fun and crack your heart wide open vulnerable. I can’t wait to buy it for everyone I’ve ever met.” —Rosie Danan, author of The Roommate
"This book is sweet, steamy, and absolutely delectable! With relatable main characters, vivid (and delicious) descriptions, and beautiful queer representation, this is a book you both want to savor and consume in a single bite."—Alison Cochrun, author of The Charm Offensive
Anita Kelly has the perfect recipe for romance in her debut, Love and Other Disasters. Kelly masterfully balances the vulnerability and the scorching intimacy of new love for a supremely sexy, tender, and decadent romance. I didn't want it to end and I'm so hungry for more.—Ruby Barrett, author of Hot Copy
DEBUT As the first openly nonbinary contestant on Chef's Special, the United States' favorite baking and cooking TV show, London Parker is both nervous about sharing their pronouns live on television and exhilarated to have the opportunity to try to win enough money to open a nonprofit for queer teens interested in music production. In addition, they want to win to prove their disapproving father and a bigoted fellow contestant wrong. London didn't go on Chef's Special with the intent of meeting the recently divorced, very clumsy, but oh so captivating Dahlia Woodson, who is also competing. But as London and Dahlia start falling in love both on and off camera, London might have to choose whether the chance of a happily-ever-after is worth the risk of losing the contest to a woman who might instead break London's heart. London and Dahlia's struggles with transphobia, guilt, and fear of the future are well balanced with sparkling prose and delicious tension. VERDICT Kelly's stunning debut is a must-have for all library collections. Recommended for readers who also enjoy Olivia Dade's "Spoiler Alert" series or Alison Cochran's The Charm Offensive.—Elizabeth Gabriel, Milwaukee P.L.
On the set of a popular cooking competition show, two contestants attempt to conquer challenges of the heart as well as the kitchen.
Dahlia Woodson doesn't know what she wants in life; she's been feeling aimless since she got divorced, not just personally, but professionally too. Entering Chef's Special, a competition for amateur chefs, is basically a last-ditch attempt to revamp herself, but she gets off to a shaky start by literally walking into one of her fellow contestants on the first day of filming. Dahlia is really the last thing on London Parker's mind, though. As the first out nonbinary contestant on the show, they've got enough pressure on their shoulders, not to mention online trolls. It's easier to shut out the internet once the cameras are rolling and London finds themself distracted by Dahlia's seemingly limitless energy and her never-ending waves of black hair. As time passes and both Dahlia and London continue to make it through each week of competition, the stakes keep getting higher on Chef's Special—but it's also the perfect backdrop for the two of them to start falling in love. Dahlia's exuberance serves as the perfect complement to London's initially taciturn demeanor, and the story is a consummate case of opposites who do more than just attract: They bring out the best in each other. Kelly's novel illustrates the truth that love calls for vulnerability from both parties—not merely in expressing honest feelings, but in accepting the other person for exactly who they are without limits. Kelly will whet your appetite from the first page, capping off the wonderful feast with the absolute sweetest of happy-ever-afters.
A delectable queer romance.