Title: For Butter or Worse
Author: Erin La Rosa
Publication Date: Expected : July 26, 2022
Sub Genre(s): Contemporary, Food
Summary: They go together like water and oil…
All chef Nina Lyon wants is to make a name for herself in the culinary world and inspire young women everywhere to do the same. For too long, she’s been held back and underestimated by the male-dominated sphere of professional kitchens, and she’s had enough. Now, as co-host of the competitive reality TV series The Next Cooking Champ!, she finally has a real shot at being top tier in the foodie scene.
Too bad her co-host happens to be Hollywood’s smarmiest jerk.
Restaurateur Leo O’Donnell never means to get under Nina’s skin. It just seems to happen, especially when the cameras are rolling. It’s part of the anxiety and stress he has come to know all too well in this line of work. So nothing prepares him for the fallout after he takes one joke a smidge too far and Nina up and quits—on live TV.
To make matters worse, the two are caught in what looks like a compromising situation by the paparazzi…and fans of the show go absolutely nuts. Turns out, a “secret romance” between Nina and Leo may just be what their careers need most.
Now all they have to do is play along, without killing each other…and without catching feelings. Easy as artisanal shepherd’s pie. Right? —From Goodreads
What I Liked: I was hoping a book that combines two of my favorite tropes, enemies-to-lovers and fake dating, would be good and I wasn’t let down by this clever and entertaining romance. I love a romance with great banter and this book, while not having the best banter I’ve ever read, has a lot of cute back and forth that I enjoyed. Nina and Leo both have reasons to not like each other but neither are willing to admit that the reasons may not be real or that a simple conversation would clear up any issues they’ve had over 3 years of co-hosting. That’s not to say this is a book with conflicts that would quickly be resolved if they sat down and talked to each other; on the contrary, there are so many things they don’t understand about each other that a lot of the joy in this book comes from finding out how wrong they are. I loved how this book handled Leo’s anxiety and panic attacks and his struggles with opening up to his family about his mental health. This book also addressed the very real issue of sexism in the entertainment business and the restaurant world. It was so easy for the world to view Nina as “Nasty Nina” and so hard for them to see her as anything else once the nickname went viral. Leo’s obliviousness to the difficulties women face in the industry was authentic and his turn around from going along with the “Nasty Nina” trend to taking a stand against it was wonderful.
What I Didn’t Like: The problems Leo and Nina face towards the end of the book seem to have been written just to give the book some angst and a reason for them to have conflict in their relationship. THIS is where one simple conversation would change everything; instead, a small miscommunication becomes a huge mess. I also had an issue with what seemed to be a last minute attempt to add diversity to a book that probably didn’t have much (or any) to begin with. When a non-white, non-cis character was introduced, it was in a clunky manner.
Who Should Read It: Fans of enemies-to-lovers romances will like this book; I would compare it to “The Hating Game” by Sally Thorne and “Meet Cute” by Helena Hunting.
Review Wrap Up: Is this the greatest fake dating, enemies-to-lovers romance I’ve ever read? No. But was it a fun, witty, romance that handled some serious topics well? Absolutely. This isn’t one I would recommend you HAVE to buy on release day but if you find yourself needing an escape from the world for a day or two, this book will help you do that.
Favorite Quote: “He felt like at any moment a record would scratch to a halt, and the dramatic movie voice over of his life would start. I bet you’re wondering how I got here…. Because he’d been on a TV show with someone who hated him, only to then fall in love with that person, and subsequently push them away. And now? He was in a onesie, about to binge-eat malt balls and cry his eyes out to Bridget Jones’s Diary.”