Chef’s Choice

Atria/Emily Bestler. (Chef’s Kiss, Bk. 2). May 2023. 336p. ISBN 9781982189105. pap. $17.99. LGBTIA+ ROMANCE
Classic romance tropes are deployed to charming effect in Alexander’s follow-up to Chef’s Kiss. Luna O’Shea and Jean-Pierre Dominique Gabriel Aubert-Treffle are thrown together by chance and agree to a very short-term fake-dating scenario. Complications ensue when Jean-Pierre’s grandfather, a celebrity chef, enlists Luna in a couple’s cooking challenge that will determine Jean-Pierre’s inheritance. High jinks, training montages, and a night of forced bed-sharing provide the backdrop to a convincing strangers-to-begrudging-teammates-to-lovers romance. While Luna is low on funds, she has a loving and supportive friend group; Jean-Pierre is a classic poor little rich boy who comes to understand the power of trans friendships and T4T (trans for trans) love through his developing relationship with Luna. Even though Luna is a whiz at languages, readers may not be completely convinced by her facility with conversational French from three weeks of podcast listening, but the heart of the story is more convincingly drawn. Simone and Ray from Chef’s Kiss reappear in strong supporting roles.
VERDICT Like Luna’s beloved cheese plates and charcuterie spreads, this appetizing romance has something to delight a wide variety of readers. A first choice for contemporary romance collections.
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