Love & Other Disasters by Anita Kelly
January 18, 2022, by Forever
Review by Melinda
I’ve raved about Anita Kelly’s first two books and have been really anticipating her debut with Forever. And I loved everything about this book from beginning to end.
Dahlia and London are competitors on a cooking show and one of the things I loved so much is that there is no antagonism between them at all. Just encouragement and laughter and love of the craft. I felt like the author rolled up multiple reality cooking shows together to create one that worked in this world. (I love reality cooking competitions so I was the exact right audience for this.) The meet-cute is the literal start of the book when Dahlia is upset that London doesn’t wish her luck before the competition begins and then Dahlia has a humiliating incident on camera immediately afterward.
But the humiliating incident and the meet-cute is handled so well on-page that I didn’t get second-hand embarrassment at all. Dahlia wallows for maybe a second, laughs it off, and then proceeds to make friends on the show. It felt like actual adult behavior, and so many times in books adults tend toward juvenile behavior so this felt very refreshing.
I don’t know if I liked Dahlia or London more? On one hand, we have Dahlia, who is just so sunshiny but fiercely protective of those she loves but is having a quarter life crisis about who she is and what she should do with her life. And then, on the other hand, we have London, who knows who they are and just wants other people to let them be who they are – and because of that can be a bit grumpy. Both characters are completely fleshed out and beautifully nuanced. I felt like I understood them and their families, which I think is a hard task to accomplish.
I want to shout from the rooftop that Dahlia is solidly childfree. This is *extremely* important to me personally as it is so hard to find in romance novels. There’s a point when London says to her that it’s okay to grow up and change your mind about these things – at one point Dahlia wanted children and now she doesn’t – *and this is okay*. This was SO refreshing to hear! Of course it’s okay to change your mind, but to have that said to Dahlia was really powerful to hear. London is the first openly nonbinary contestant on the cooking show and this storyline is just so great. That they do have supportive friends and family members felt really important to me; this wasn’t an isolated queer person with no family behind them and I loved that for London. Their whole journey, both on the show and off, was really powerful and I hope that we get more characters like London in romance across the genre.
On top of all of that goodness is the actual romance, which is cute and sweet but HOT as hell. Seriously, some of their sex scenes had me looking around making sure no one else was listening to the audiobook with me because I was blushing lol. I highly recommend this book and look forward to whatever else Anita Kelly writes.