From the bestselling author of Boyfriend Material comes a sweet and scrumptious romantic comedy about facing your insecurities, finding love, and baking it off, no matter what people say.
Paris Daillencourt is a recipe for disaster. Despite his passion for baking, his cat, and his classics degree, constant self-doubt and second-guessing have left him a curdled, directionless mess. So when his roommate enters him in Bake Expectations, the nation’s favourite baking show, Paris is sure he’ll be the first one sent home.
But not only does he win week one’s challenge—he meets fellow contestant Tariq Hassan. Sure, he’s the competition, but he’s also cute and kind, with more confidence than Paris could ever hope to have. Still, neither his growing romance with Tariq nor his own impressive bakes can keep Paris’s fear of failure from spoiling his happiness. And when the show’s vicious fanbase confirms his worst anxieties, Paris’s confidence is torn apart quicker than tear-and-share bread.
But if Paris can find the strength to face his past, his future, and the chorus of hecklers that live in his brain, he’ll realize it’s the sweet things in life that he really deserves.
Content guidance: Main character with an undiagnosed anxiety disorder (that does get diagnosed), on page panic attack, hospital stay due to panic attack, treatment plan for anxiety disorder discussed, emotionally-unavailable parents, very graphic swearing, cyberbullying, religious and racial microaggressions, Islamophobia (challenged).
First of all, I love this series’ conceit: rather than the second book’s romantic pairing being comprised of secondary characters, Paris and Tariq are two contestants on the newest season of a popular televised baking show. I know that seasons are called “series” in the UK, but I can’t say series twice in the same sentence. Except that I just did. Never mind.
I feel like I’m beginning to sound like a broken record because I say this in every Alexis Hall review I write, but once again, Hall subverts expectations about the romance genre in multiple ways. I can’t go into specifics without revealing spoilers, but needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised. Also, I promise that the most sacred of rules (the HEA/HFN) has not been broken.
Like most of Hall’s romances, this is single perspective. The reader only receives Paris’ POV, and this works well because it makes certain moments in the plot more impactful because the reader does not have any advantage over Paris in terms of knowing anybody else’s thoughts.
Paris’ shyness—a product of his anxiety—can appear as aloof/snobby, which is something that I can relate to personally, and it endeared me to him. He can’t help who he is, but he’s simultaneously hampered by his privilege and unaware of it. It’s such a cliché, but Paris learns so much over the course of the book, and even though there are some tough lessons, going on the baking show serves as a catalyst for Paris being able to overcome obstacles that have prevented him from living authentically.
Tariq is such a cinnamon roll, and he serves as an excellent foil for the more reserved Paris. He might not have POV chapters, but he has no qualms about speaking up when something is bothering him. Tariq genuinely likes Paris, which is something that Paris has trouble processing because he’s so accustomed to people taking a superficial interest in him because they want something from him. But back to Tariq—he’s a sweetheart, and so perfect for Paris.
The book is crammed full of delightful moments, from delicious bakes and the accompanying banter to suburban laser tag to a hilarious Scottish roommate. But there are also many genuine moments of poignancy that delve into serious topics so deftly that the transition never seems jarring or out of place amongst the lighter material.
I would absolutely recommend Paris Daillencourt is About to Crumble. You don’t have to read Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake before reading this book because as I mentioned at the beginning of the review, the only connection between the two books is Bake Expectations. But you should because you’ll have a greater appreciation for this book’s cameo appearance in from the villain of the previous piece. This book was sweet and tender, and I absolutely adored it.
I received a digital ARC of this book from Grand Central/NetGalley.