Quick vocabulary lesson before we start!
Cisgender – comfortable in assigned gender
Nonbinary – does not identify as a single-gender but along the gender spectrum.
Pansexual – attraction to people across the gender spectrum.
Queer/ Queerness – all-encompassing term for gender/ sexual identity used within the LGBTQ community
Now for my thoughts!
I was so excited to get an arc of this book! Kelly’s Moonlighters novellas are great fun and I was excited for something full length from this author. And trying to create a cohesive review was somewhat daunting after this book surpassed all my expectations.
The book takes place at a cooking show – and I was somewhat intimidated on page one – I have never watched a cooking show and was worried I wouldn’t be as invested because of the setting. But have no fear – no background in Top Chef required. The characters do all the heavy lifting in this story.
London is a giant, ginger, grump who loves food, and they are – literally and figuratively – bowled over by Dahlia and have no idea what to do with her. I am cisgender and I cannot speak to London’s nonbinary representation – but I loved that this book is a mainstream romance with a nonbinary romantic lead!
London’s deeply personal journey of owning not only their sexuality – they are pansexual – but also their path to learning to navigate the world and have to constantly defend their gender and nonbinary self from homophobia as well as their own less than supportive father. While this at times lead to intense moments – it is wildly pertinent to the world around us.
Dahlia should not be forgotten though – she is unsure of herself but also hilarious, warm, kind, and unbelievably strong. Her journey to healing that is based on food is gorgeous and the world needs more second coming-of-age stories for women. Dahlia’s queerness hit home so deeply for me too – late in life coming out stories are valid and important to highlight.
In between these heavy issues – there are searing kisses, deeply intimate moments, and delicious food descriptions.