“Like a dish of comfort food you’ll want to devour.” —The Washington Post
“It’s hard to say which aspect of TJ Alexander’s novel is sweeter: the slow-burn romance or the drool-worthy desserts.” —Time
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).
Opposites attract in Alexander's outstanding debut rom-com. Simone Larkspur, a no-nonsense pastry chef and recipe writer for long-standing culinary outlet The Discerning Chef, is forced by her editor to pivot to video alongside Ray Lyton, her distractingly cheerful new kitchen manager who has a knack for accidental YouTube virality. When Ray comes out as nonbinary at work, the pair's growing adoration for one another is put to the test as their coworkers draw lines, forcing Simone to decide which matters more the culinary career she's spent so long building, or the only person she'd ever be caught dead making eyes at on camera. Alexander accomplishes a masterful juggling act: the banter is snappy, the chemistry between Simone and Ray sings, the commentary on social media fame is poignant without ever verging on precious, and the exploration of Ray's nonbinary identity within the structure of a romantic comedy hits exactly right. In particular, Alexander's grasp of narrative payoff is expertly applied this is a rom-com that manages to both subvert and embrace the tropes it's working with, and the result is one of the most intricate and satisfying queer romances in years. Fans of Casey McQuiston will be wowed. Agent: Larissa Melo Pienkowski, Jill Grinberg Literary.