It’s my first ARC, and I actually have this book on request for purchase at a few of my libraries. Without much knowledge of how ARCs work (are they final? Will there be more changes?) I’ll give it my best shot…
So CLEARLY there was some meeting of the romance novelists and they all decided that this year’s theme was going to be Cooking Shows/Kitchens/Chefs, across all gender identities and sexualities and tropes. I think I’ve read two of these already, considered a few more, and have one more on hold. Is it the tension? The stress? High stakes mincing that turns into making out? In some sense, that both characters are chefs of some sort makes it even LESS realistic than the average romance novel trope, because chefs work…all the time. Like, ALL the time, weird hours, never taking a break.
But let’s assume that this is the world we live in, where two chefs on a cooking show are famous enough that people will follow news of their personal lives and Fake Dating. Even still, I think the chef-y element here was more of a detraction than an addition, unfortunately, not even including some awkward/slightly fatphobic language around what one looks like after “enjoying pasta” versus “going for runs so as to not look like they enjoy pasta.”
There’s also a lot of plot in this book, and not necessarily in a woven together, well fitting sort of way. For the most part, I found the various plot lines that weren’t Nina and Leo a bit underwhelming and then unrealistic, to the detriment of my enjoyment of the overall plot. Their antagonism, I think, was well justified–Leo really does have to figure out what he did when he dubbed Nina “Nasty Nina.” More focus on what it means to cancel someone might also have worked well in this book.
This book was provided to me for review by NetGalley, but the opinions are my own!