Love à la Mode by Stephanie Kate Strohm

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Love à la Mode by Stephanie Kate StrohmLove à la Mode by Stephanie Kate Strohm
Published by Disney Hyperion on November 27, 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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Take two American teen chefs, add one heaping cup of Paris, toss in a pinch of romance, and stir. . . .

Rosie Radeke firmly believes that happiness can be found at the bottom of a mixing bowl. But she never expected that she, a random nobody from East Liberty, Ohio, would be accepted to celebrity chef Denis Laurent's school in Paris, the most prestigious cooking program for teens in the entire world. Life in Paris, however, isn't all cream puffs and crepes. Faced with a challenging curriculum and a nightmare professor, Rosie begins to doubt her dishes.

Henry Yi grew up in his dad's restaurant in Chicago, and his lifelong love affair with food landed him a coveted spot in Chef Laurent's school. He quickly connects with Rosie, but academic pressure from home and his jealousy over Rosie's growing friendship with gorgeous bad-boy baker Bodie Tal makes Henry lash out and push his dream girl away.

Desperate to prove themselves, Rosie and Henry cook like never before while sparks fly between them. But as they reach their breaking points, they wonder whether they have what it takes to become real chefs.

Perfect for lovers of Chopped Teen Tournament and Kids Baking Championship, as well as anyone who dreams of a romantic trip to France, Love la Mode follows Rosie and Henry as they fall in love with food, with Paris, and ultimately, with each other.

Throughout the years, I’ve had ups and downs with Strohm’s books. With each one, I’ve liked the book a bit more, but there’s never been one I could unreservedly love. Until now. Love à la Mode melted my heart and served it up on a plate of happiness. I’ve been wanting a YA MasterChef for ages, and I finally have it!

Seriously, though, if you have also been wanting a YA take on MasterChef that also has a romance between competitors, this book is IT. The characters are all attending a fancy, incredibly competitive cooking school in Paris. Basically, on top of taking all of the usual classes, they also spend hours a day cooking.

The setup of the cooking portions of the school is so very MasterChef. The cooking spaces are laid out that way, and the challenges are often very reminiscent of the show. Each week, they learn new techniques, culminating on Fridays with the students being able to cook something of their choice in line with the week’s subject matter. Then, at the end of the semester, their final is cooking a full three course meal for their two judges. SO. VERY. MASTERCHEF.

There are two POV characters, Henry and Rosie, who first meet on their flight from Chicago to Paris, having by happenstance ended up seated across the aisle from one another. (Also, she’s next to a baby, and he’s next to an overly amorous newlywed couple, so that’s the worst row ever despite the attractive, interested person across the aisle. I would not be able to deal.) Henry’s reading a cooking magazine, and he catches Rosie staring at him reading said cooking magazine, and they end up talking about food.

Henry, very adorably, immediately instaloves on Rosie with what must be the cutest instalove quote of all time: “Hey, there’s a chance I maybe might love you. Because of cakes.” Though, to be fair, instacrush is the more accurate term, but Henry’s crush on Rosie is unshakable. Interestingly, the book even opens with Henry’s POV rather than Rosie’s, which is fairly rare in the heroine/love interest dual POV.

Prepare to be very busy trying to shove their faces together, shouting NOW KISS to these two. Or, more accurately, NOW COMMUNICATE, because omg they just will not. They both are seriously crushing on each other from that first plane ride, but neither will fully commit to making a move. In an adult novel that would annoy the shit out of me, but tbh it felt very believable here and not like pointless drama. They’re young and shy and also busy af. Learning to communicate takes time.

There IS a love triangle of sorts, which I know will frustrate some people, but personally I loved how Strohm handled it. View Spoiler »

Both Henry and Rosie are super under stress during their first semester at the ėcole. The chef teaching them has indicated from day one that she doesn’t think Rosie deserves to be there and fully intends to kick her out after the first semester; Rosie’s a pastry chef, so she’s incredibly behind on cooking skills, the school’s focus. Henry’s technically skilled and not in danger of being kicked out by the school (though the chef does constantly accuse him of making dishes that aren’t “him,” until he makes Korean-inspired dishes, which I found very problematic of her but also super realistic to MasterChef), but his mom has promised to force him out if his grades aren’t high enough. AND she’s given him even more work to do, because she doesn’t think being a chef is a safe career path.

Henry’s mom annoyed the shit out of me tbh. She’s so dismissive of his dream, and she won’t stop pushing him to do things that she wants instead. It’s extra shitty considering that Henry’s dad’s a chef, and every time she goes off on Henry, she’s basically telling her husband she thinks he was a waste of her time. Ick. There’s not a lot of resolution to that, but that’s exactly the kind of adult drama that won’t have a pretty resolution in novel. Henry and his mom reach a detente of sorts, which is the most you can reasonably expect.

I sped through Love à la Mode in a single day because I couldn’t put it down. It’s pure literary marshmallow fluff, and I wish there were more of it tbh, because damn was it delicious.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

2 responses to “Love à la Mode by Stephanie Kate Strohm”

  1. Lana says:

    I read this one in a day as well, and just loved it (though agree the focus on Henry needing to include Korean flavours was both problematic and true to cooking show inspiration). Also shout out to secondary characters Hampus and Yumi. I would read all the words about these kids…

  2. This sounds fun, but the whole not communicating thing can be a turn off for me in my romance novels. That cover is so cute though. Glad you enjoyed it!

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