Carter Lane is one step closer to her dream of attending the nation’s top culinary school when she is accepted into its prestigious summer scholarship competition, but arrogant and handsome Reid Yamada isn’t going to make winning easy.
In fact, he is deliberately sabotaging Carter’s dishes—but two can play at that game. Carter, who is Irish-American, and Reid, who is biracial (Japanese/white), have their sights trained on one another as competitors begin to be eliminated. But an obsession that starts out as revenge soon turns romantic when the two are paired up and must work together to win it all. Despite the clichéd premise and the implausibility of sending eliminated teens to the airport at all hours to wait for standby flights home, this meet-cute romance stands out thanks to the nuanced characters and subtle treatment of bigger issues such as race, gender, and money (Carter’s family flirts with poverty). Carter’s insecurities about her culinary skill will resonate with any girl who has aspirations in a field dominated by males, and a sensitive sex scene models for readers what a consensual relationship looks like. A full cast of diverse characters, including Indian-American competitors, Carter’s lesbian best friend, and Reid himself, who identifies as queer, are portrayed three-dimensionally, but Shrum’s (How to Make Out, 2016, etc.) greatest accomplishment may be the intricate and mouthwatering descriptions of each dish.
A thoughtful and delicious romance. (Romance. 14-18)