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).
About the Author
TJ Alexander is an amateur baker and author who writes about queer love. Originally from Florida, they received their MA in writing and publishing from Emerson College in Boston. They live in New York City with their wife and various houseplants.
"CHEF'S KISS is a luscious dessert of a novel, a romantic comedy as classic as it is modern, as satisfying as it is groundbreaking."
— Camille Perri, author of WHEN KATIE MET CASSIDY
"I want to give this book the biggest hug! CHEF'S KISS is an utter delight, filled with sumptuous food, and adorable banter. This is the first time I've read a book with a nonbinary love interest, and I was cheering for Ray and Simone the entire time. At times, it can be heart-wrenching, but above all it is the ultimate feel-good read, something I will be recommending to everyone!"
— Jesse Q. Sutanto, author of DIAL A FOR AUNTIES
"Sweet and so deliciously written! This charming foodie romance is brimming with delectable baking and memorable characters. Simone and Ray’s connection started out a bit grumpy/sunshine, but with a pinch of kindness, a dash of mutual support, and a heavy splash of acceptance, their relationship baked up into a sweet treat that is sure to melt your heart! An enjoyable debut!"
— Farah Heron, Author of ACCIDENTALLY ENGAGED and TAHIRA IN BLOOM
"With its adorable grumpy-sunshine pairing, plenty of pining, and sumptuous descriptions of food, CHEF'S KISS is a sweet treat of a romantic comedy. But beyond the delicious recipes and the playful banter between the charming leads is a story about the sometimes difficult realities of the queer experience, and Alexander effortlessly tackles heavier topics without ever losing sight of queer joy and the happily ever after these characters deserve!"
— Alison Cochrun, author of THE CHARM OFFENSIVE and KISS HER ONCE FOR ME
"A truly delightful debut, as queer as it is sweet. Cheerful Ray and prickly Simone are a match made in a test kitchen. This tasty, modern rom-com celebrates loving fiercely, living authentically, and eating well."
— Georgia Clark, author of IT HAD TO BE YOU
"One of the most intricate and satisfying queer romances in years. Fans of Casey McQuiston will be wowed."
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"It’s hard to say what’s sweeter: the slow-burn romance or the drool-worthy descriptions of decadent desserts."
“Swoon-worthy… Readers who enjoyed the adventures in romances like Alexis Hall’s ROSALINE PALMER TAKES THE CAKE and Adriana Herrera’s MANGOES AND MISTLETOE will likely eat this one up too.”
— Library Journal
“Delicious… Alexander whips up a delectable couple with Ray and Simone; they are each on their own journeys for self-awareness and self-confidence, which they gratifyingly achieve on an individual level. Alexander’s romance confronts workplace discrimination, internal biases, and issues like transphobia and misgendering with ease. Baked to perfection.”
— Kirkus Reviews
*May's Top Rom-Com Reads*
— USA Today
"CHEF'S KISS combines a sugary sweet romance with an intricate narrative arc of what it means to be a good ally. With a charming cast of queer, diverse characters and food descriptions that will have you salivating, this one’s perfect for fans of LOVE & OTHER DISASTERS and ROSALINE PALMER TAKES THE CAKE."
— The Nerd Daily
"Tender, sweet, and hot."
— Amanda Elliot, author of SADIE ON A PLATE, for The Nerd Daily
*Highly Anticipated LGBTQ+ Romance Novels Releasing in 2022*
"2022 might be the year of queer foodie romances."
— Autostraddle, "Queer and Feminist Books Coming Out Spring 2022"
*Best New Romances of 2022*
"A cute, romantic tale . . . For fans of The Charm Offensive and Red, White, and Royal Blue."
— LibraryReads, May 2022 Top Ten Picks
"Opposites attract in this sweet novel."
— LifeSavvy, "Best Books of May"
"This sweet contemporary Own-Voices romance by a nonbinary author is recommended."
"If you followed the rise and fall of Bon Appetit video, this should be on your TBR."
— BookRiot, "19 Must-Read Queer Books Out in May"
"Sweet, with a little spice, and wildly delicious sounding dishes."
— Library Queens
"A fun, refreshing slow-burn of a romance."
— All About Romance
"A cute, romantic tale."
— Shelf Awareness