The Art of French Kissing by Brianna R. Shrum
ARC provided by Edelweiss for a fair review.
All Carter Lane wants is to be a chef. She gets the opportunity to a challenge that could win her a full ride scholarship at the culinary school of her choice. Unfortunately Reid Yamada tries to sabotage her from the first challenge, leading her to a cooking vendetta. But being thrown together has Carter confused about whether she hates the guy or if she has other budding feelings.
I am going to just flat out tell you that I love Chef Ramsey and his shows. I especially love Hell’s Kitchen, so this book was so perfect for me. The Art of French kissing takes the competition in Hell’s Kitchen mixes in some YA contemporary, adds a dash of the hate to love trope to make your heart feeling like a perfect soufflé.
There were two main focuses of this book, the food challenge and her relationship with Reid. This made for a very light, quick and easy read that had me wanting to cook up my own food. I wouldn’t judge a YA contemporary on it’s lack of deeper subject because there is a time and place for all types of stories, and this book puts me in a place of sitting on my back deck sipping some iced tea (it’s set in Georgia).
The fact that there were continuous challenges help drive the story. There’s a start and an end to look forward to as you anticipate who will be winning that scholarship, and by the end, while you’re still rooting for Carter, you can easily be happy with the competition winning as well.
If you are a fan of the hate to love trope like me then you might really enjoy this book. There were times when I thought Carter was taking it a bit too far, like, hey crazy, why don’t you change the focus of your attention back to the competition that is supposedly so important to you? But it worked, and it was cute. The dynamic of Carter and Reid went back and forth so much as they battled with the competition, miscommunication, and just teenage hormones. Speaking of those hormones, I appreciated how Shrum portrayed the characters (not specifying who, because that would be spoilers) to be respectful about sex and responsible enough to talk about prophylactics.
I loved that this book had these quirky characters that were young, talented, and driven but not in any sort of ridiculous way. Sure, to someone who doesn’t like cooking some of the competitions seemed a little extreme for someone who hasn’t gone through any technical training. But that’s just it, the whole premise is supposed to be a competition for a scholarship for dedicated kids who already have a talent for the cooking. So, in the end, I didn’t really find it too far fetched.
Sometimes I find it annoying that authors portray certain characters because they like a certain genre or have certain extra curricular activities that may classify them as “dork” “geek” etc. While our characters loved cooking, they did love some other aspects that may put them there. However, Shrum, left the classification completely out, as if hey, it’s totally normal for someone to like anime, Star Wars, books, Avatar, etc. The fact is, that when it was mentioned it piqued the characters interests, it did not classify them.
If you’re looking for some LGBTQIA+ rep, this book has it, not only is the Reid canon queer, but several other characters are described to have LBTQIA+ relationships. It’s all cute, and all the feels.
Hailee Steinfeld feat DNCE- Rock Bottom