Chef’s Kiss

Atria. May 2022. 320p. ISBN 9781982189082. pap. $17. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
DEBUT Simone Larkspur and Ray Lyton are colleagues at a prestigious food magazine and website that has decided to pivot to video. When kitchen manager Ray goes viral with a humorous home-brewing demonstration, they get thrown together for a new series: Simone creates fancy versions of Ray’s Midwestern family classics, and their on-screen chemistry reflects Simone’s growing crush. Then Ray comes out as nonbinary at work. Simone frets about remembering their pronouns, but she isn’t prepared for the intentional misgendering and transphobia from her colleagues. Sure, there’s already been evidence of racism and classism at the magazine, but white, cisgender, bisexual-but-not-out-at-work Simone has been able to look past that. Top surgery and tough workplace conversations bring Ray and Simone closer, though they stumble through several swoon-worthy near-misses first. Readers should know that Ray’s gender is misperceived for about 150 pages, as readers only see Simone’s point of view, and that Simone’s trans roommate is mostly just here to explain things.
VERDICT Readers who enjoyed the adventures in romances like Alexis Hall’s Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake and Adriana Herrera’s Mangoes and Mistletoe will likely eat this one up too.
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