I heard about Love and Other Disasters by Anita Kelly on Tiktok. They said it was an f/nb romance novel set on a cooking show, and that if I ordered on their online shop, I would get a free recipe card. I’ve been getting into romance novels lately. I also had never read a romance novel with an nb main character or love interest. This kind of representation seems rare and I wanted to see it. In addition, I love food and food competition shows, mainly The Great British Baking Show.
When the recipe card, or rather bookmark, arrived I was disappointed to see that the recipes were for rice crispy treats and brussel sprouts. Neither of these would have been my first choice. For starters, these foods are common enough to find a recipe for, that I don’t need a new recipe for them. Secondly, neither of the brussel sprout recipes doesn’t give measurements or much detail.
I was similarly disappointed with Love and Other Disasters. Admittedly, maybe my opinion was influenced by a youtube video in which the YouTuber criticizes the main characters’ first meeting. The main characters got off on the wrong foot, which is a popular trope. But their first encounter was just very awkward, and not in a romantic way. Then Dahlia drinks some of London’s drink on purpose even though they just met which was weird.
Additionally, this wasn’t Kelly’s fault, but the main characters reminded me of my best friend and me, so it was weird reading about them being in a romantic/sexual relationship with each other. Also, there is a lot of smut once reaching the middle of the novel. Whereas, I prefer my romance novels to be lighter in the sex scenes. These scenes weren’t the worst, but they also weren’t the best. Clits, and labias are mentioned a lot which made the scenes seem very clinical. I’m not sure how else those parts of anatomy would be described, however. I guess I just prefer my sex scenes a little vaguer, so I don’t have to think about how the sexual terms used either sound clinical or overly casual.
There were the occasional genuinely humorous moments, and moments that did make me feel genuinely emotional. I think these are moments in Dahlia talks about how hard it is to be an adult, to go through a divorce, and when London talks about dealing with transphobia, particularly from their father. Although this was a romance novel, I enjoyed these parts more than the romance bits.
All in all, Love and Other Disasters was just okay. It didn’t really make me feel things, the way that I feel romance novels are supposed to. I did appreciate that there was a nonbinary protagonist, and all the mentions of food did make me feel like cooking, baking, or at least eating. I wouldn’t recommend it very highly though.