Cooking shows are hugely popular, and many a Kitchen Aid stand mixer was purchased during the pandemic (guilty, me). For those who are perfecting their proofing skills and practicing delicious pasta dishes, “For Butter or Worse” by Erin La Rosa is a deliciously delightful romance. Nina and Leo, the two stars of a reality cooking show, “The Next Cooking Champ,” are often at each other’s throats. They don’t like each other, and when Nina quits after Leo inadvertently calls her a name on live TV, her restaurant’s popularity tanks. Likewise, Leo’s family chain of restaurants loses business.
To try to salvage their businesses, Nina’s PR guy tells them to fake a romance. And that seems to help at first. But the ups and downs of social media are reflected in the fickleness of the filled seats at the eateries. And while Nina and Leo had agreed it was purely business, they find that being together in forced romantic situations does bring them closer together. While the plot is a bit predictable (but aren’t most romances, really?), La Rosa makes both main characters believable by giving each of them flaws that readers can relate to. Nina is insecure and has come out of a relationship in which her last boyfriend treated her poorly. Leo suffers from anxiety and panic attacks, which he tries to hide.
The addition of Nina’s best friend and chef Jasmine, her sister Sophie, and Leo’s gay twin brother Gavin, add to the enjoyable narrative and fill out the story. For anyone looking for a light summer romp to read, this pick will fill that need as surely as a lovely plate of cheesy, buttery pasta will fill an empty stomach. The only thing better might be Nina’s favorite dessert of donuts after.
Please note: This review is based on the final trade book provided by HQN the publisher, for review purposes.