BOOK REVIEW: A romance with authentic queerness

At the start of Chef's Kiss, I was convinced my opinion would end up being negative; after finishing, I was happy to see my outlook had completely flipped.

Chef’s Kiss is an engaging, well-paced story bolstered by its likable characters and authentic queerness. Simone, a career oriented pastry chef, has her dream job upended when her workplace pivots to a focus on video and social media in order to stay relevant in the current marketplace. Along with the changes to the content she creates, Simone must deal with the influx of new employees, including Chase, a know-it-all producer, and Ray, the new nonbinary kitchen manager.

Early on, I had a feeling that it would all end up being too predictable, but I got so wrapped up in the story and characters that I no longer cared. By the end, I was so invested in the characters and in love with the representation presented within its pages, that I was brought to tears several times.

I am not a pastry chef, but all of the food-related content felt like the author had experience in the field and came off as genuine. It can be jarring to read a book where it feels like expertise in the subject matter is lacking. I never got that impression here.

The dynamic of the main relationship was cute and honest, but the story also became more than just two people falling for each other. The ups and downs involved real world issues, a nice departure from those romance stories that can be resolved with one simple, honest conversation between characters. The fact that the relationship took a backseat for much of the book, focusing on workplace politics and queer representation, was another selling point.

It was great to see a nonbinary character as a lead, and the discussions around trans dynamics was great; not overly preachy, but intelligent and informative; content and advice that can be used by readers in a real world context. Though some people were bigoted jerks in the book, it never came off as sensationalized, but instead, authentic and appropriate for the arc of the protagonists.

Chef's Kiss is a book that will have you rooting for the main group of characters, a book that makes me, as a nonbinary person, feel represented, and despite some of the serious topics it tackles, a book that will have you laughing and smiling.

Purchase Chef's Kiss from Blue House Books!

Content Warning: deadnaming, transphobia, misgendering