Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Chef's Kiss - TJ Alexander


Title: Chef's Kiss 
Author: TJ Alexander 
Format: Paperback
Rating: 5 Stars 


A high-strung pastry chef’s professional goals are interrupted by an unexpected career transition and the introduction of her wildly attractive nonbinary kitchen manager in this deliciously fresh and witty queer rom-com.

Simone Larkspur is a perfectionist pastry expert with a dream job at The Discerning Chef, a venerable cookbook publisher in New York City. All she wants to do is create the perfect loaf of sourdough and develop recipes, but when The Discerning Chef decides to bring their brand into the 21st century by pivoting to video, Simone is thrust into the spotlight and finds herself failing at something for the first time in her life.

To make matters worse, Simone has to deal with Ray Lyton, the new test kitchen manager, whose obnoxious cheer and outgoing personality are like oil to Simone’s water. When Ray accidentally becomes a viral YouTube sensation with a series of homebrewing videos, their eccentric editor in chief forces Simone to work alongside the chipper upstart or else risk her beloved job. But the more they work together, the more Simone realizes her heart may be softening like butter for Ray.

Things get even more complicated when Ray comes out at work as nonbinary to mixed reactions—and Simone must choose between the career she fought so hard for and the person who just might take the cake (and her heart).


I absolutely adored this book.  The author did a great job of melding together two of my favorite things: Food and Romance. 

Simone and Ray were wonderfully written characters and I fell in love with both of them.  They were both well written and well developed.  It was fantastic to watch them both go through the changes they did and the self discovery they both experienced throughout the novel.  Simone really opened up and learned that it was okay to be more open not only with other people, but also with herself.  Ray had a lot to do with that because they were so open and so honest with Simone about who they were and what they wanted, and I think that showed Simone that she could be herself, even in the face of complete jackasses like Chase.

Speaking of Chase, he was one character in this book that I absolutely LOATHED.  He was a toady, ignorant jerk.  Ray came out to Simone as non-binary.  They then made the decision to come out to the rest of the employees of The Discerning Chef.  Most of the people who worked there were like "Okay, cool.  You are who you are." But Chase and some of the TDC execs were so awful to Ray.  These people would intentionally misgender Ray, using feminine pronouns for them, instead of they/them pronouns.  Chase would also repeatedly use Ray's dead name even after Ray told him they are called Ray.  It was absolutely infuriating.  Simone and several other employees really had Ray's back, and really worked hard to make sure they were all open to and accepting of Ray. 

I feel like this story was really well developed, and it drew me in from the beginning.  It also made me wish that Ray and Simone were real people doing real videos about beer and food because the videos they made together in the book sounded epic!  The author did a great job of developing the romance and chemistry between Simone and Ray, and also did a wonderful job of showing how hard it was for Ray to come out and be vulnerable in a place where a lot of people didn't accept them for who they are. 

Watching the characters get to know each other and develop these awesome bonds of friendship throughout the book was great.  (And, of course, the more between Ray and Simone.) It was great the way this helped them really stand together when Ray was being discriminated against because of who they were.  

I loved the slow burn aspect of the book as well.  You could tell that Ray and Simone were attracted to each other, but it was great that this book really took the time to develop that relationship and have those characters really get to know each other.  I'm not a big fan of insta-love, so having this slow development of the relationship was amazing.

Overall, this was a great read that I'd recommend to anyone who loves romance.  

If you've already read this book let me know what you thought of it in the comments! 

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