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Winner Bakes All #2

Paris Daillencourt Is About to Crumble

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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.

368 pages, Paperback

First published November 1, 2022

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About the author

Alexis Hall

51 books10.8k followers
Genrequeer writer of kissing books.

Please note: I don’t read / reply to DMs. If you would like to get in touch, the best way is via email which you can find in the contact section on my website <3

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,280 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,964 reviews294k followers
August 18, 2022
2 1/2 stars.

Well. I honestly had quite a difficult time with this book. If you're looking for a cute romance, I would not recommend this.

If I'm being honest, I think I only made it through because I, like Paris, have anxiety and felt like I owed it to him on some level to persevere through the exhausting repetitive cycles of his constant self-doubt and catastrophizing. I can relate to Paris' anxiety, but that certainly didn't make it any easier or pleasurable to read. In the end, I was glad we got some self-reflection, treatment and growth, and I did start to warm to it as the story progressed.

Here's what I liked.

The Bake Expectations show and its judges were just as delightful and hilarious as they were in Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake. There were some moments of pure comedy gold in this book. I especially enjoyed the profanity-laden rants of Jennifer Hallett and Paris's roommate Morag. I also liked how both Paris and Tariq grew and examined themselves over the course of the novel.

However, I'm still undecided how much I really forgive Paris. I'm not sure all his awful behaviour can rightly be blamed on his anxiety disorder. Anxiety shouldn't cause cultural insensitivity or snobbishness. It shouldn't prevent him from understanding that his palatial flat in London and his ability to regularly cook with fresh truffles make him a rich person.

It is also wrong to market this book as a romance-- it simply isn't. I thought Rosaline Palmer would have been better marketed as a contemporary, but this one is even less romantic than its predecessor. Not only is the book more about Paris' struggles with anxiety than his relationship with Tariq, but I'm also not at all convinced that the pair are a good match. I think their different beliefs about religion and sex are a serious barrier and not adequately addressed.

I'll be continuing this series because I do so love the baking show format, but I definitely need to adjust my expectations if Hall is going to continue with the heavy themes over the romcom.
Profile Image for Heather K (dentist in my spare time).
3,861 reviews5,638 followers
January 20, 2023
Paris Daillencourt Is About to Crumble is one of the most exhausting books I've ever read.

I'm going to air a theory I've been ruminating on for awhile: I think Alexis Hall secretly hates romance. I've noticed a trend in a bunch of his books recently where he seems to like making things almost impossible for his MCs, not like a hard-fought HEA but like a HEA that doesn't seem likely or even plausible. Again with this book- it is not a romance, nor does it deserve to be a romance. These two guys are a horrible match, mismatched in so many ways that it's actually hard to articulate.

On top of the fundamental ideological and lifestyle differences, Paris is sort of a crap person. Even with excusing some stuff due to his crippling anxiety, he is just overall insensitive and hard to be around (even as a reader). And not only is Paris unlikeable, but Alexis Hall seems to lean into that and make the whole reading experience unlikeable also.

I will say that the audiobook narrator did a very nice job with this story, but that wasn't enough to bump up my rating. I'm going to be dropping this series but I'll still read Alexis Hall because when he is on his game.... whew, fire.

Profile Image for Marieke (mariekes_mesmerizing_books).
470 reviews274 followers
November 1, 2022
This is not a romcom! I repeat this is not a romcom! Think of a gay Bridget Jones like Henry Fry’s First Time for Everything. The books have the same kind of vibes.

A story like this isn’t for everyone. Paris is a mess and very whiny at times. He causes many cringe-worthy situations, and some might find the story, or Paris in particular, over the top or exhausting. Not me, though.

I don’t see myself as an anxious person, even though I can stress about certain things. And with these stressful situations in mind, I felt I could relate to Paris and understand his worries, his want to have control, and his blackouts in conversations (not being able to speak in full sentences). While reading, I smiled, and I flinched, sometimes simultaneously. Despite Paris being so whiny at times, he also felt endearing to me, and I wanted to protect him at all costs. My chest tightened multiple times when he texted his parents and I wanted to flip my middle finger and say f*ck you to those people.

I loved how Alexis Hall portrayed Tariq, a very gay queen ánd Muslim. The part where Tariq explains to Paris why he can be fully Muslim and fully gay is one of my favorites. And that ending was, well, one that fits the story perfectly, in my opinion.

I received an ARC from Forever Publishing and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Profile Image for Alexis Hall.
Author 51 books10.8k followers
September 10, 2022
PARIS DAILLENCOURT IS ABOUT TO CRUMBLE is a queer (m/m) new adult contemporary romance, and Winner Bakes All book 2. (You don’t need to have read Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake in order for this to make sense.)

What you can expect from Paris & Tariq’s story:
-A very anxious bean & sparkly gay Muslim MCs
-A meet disaster
-A cat named Neferneferuaten
-Four Daves & a fat Glaswegian sex goddess BFF
-All the baking
-Your tummy to get hungry

On sale: November 1, 2022. Links for all the things/content guidance here. <3
Profile Image for Lance.
474 reviews145 followers
October 22, 2022
3.5 stars. Despite the genre it falls in, Paris Daillencourt is About to Crumble is less of a romance and more of a tale starring a messy protagonist getting his life together with a strong romantic subplot.
Profile Image for Adam.
282 reviews42 followers
December 8, 2022
4.5 stars rounded up.

I am a big fan of Alexis Hall. He has a talent for writing deeply thoughtful, respectful, and generous portrayals of diverse people from a wide variety of circumstances and backgrounds. Paris Daillencourt Is About to Crumble is no different. A quick summary: the follow up to the very strong Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake, PDIATC follows the eponymous Paris Daillencourt—classicist, baker, and mess extraordinaire—as he participates in a televised baking competition. While Paris does surprisingly well in the competition, his mental health simultaneously goes downhill. Meanwhile, he starts a thing with Tariq, a short, femme, gay, religious Muslim competitor. Shenanigans occur.

My take on this book: holy crap, it’s good. I really enjoyed the first book in this series, although a certain character dragged it down from being a perfect read for me. In comparison, PDIATC succeeds because it focuses less on the impact of secondary characters on the protagonist and more on the protagonist. Paris Daillencourt, as previously alluded to, is a mess. Dude has serious problems. I totally understand why some people would dislike this book: Paris is a lot. But the great thing about the book is that he grows. He learns from his mistakes, he gets help, and he becomes a better, stronger person.

This ties into my only critique of the book: I don’t know if this can really be considered a romance. It’s really more of a bildungsroman (featuring 20/21 year olds) than a story revolving around love. That’s not to say that romance isn’t present; but I think it important to note that at least half of the major story beats are unrelated to romance. In a lot of ways, this book is about Paris’s mental health journey and his struggle towards self-acceptance. That is certainly something to keep in mind before reading.

I would like to address certain other reviews of PDIATC, which decry the presence of racism, antisemitism, and Islamophobia in the book. “Something is afoot!” I thought when I first saw these reviews, instantly growing intrigued. Since when does Alexis Hall write something so divisive? Well, uh, he doesn’t. Let me be clear: there is Islamophobia and racism in the book. That being said, they are systematically torn apart every time they occur. For example: when Paris makes a thoughtless Islamophobic statement, he is rightly ripped a new one. When he asks what he did wrong, he is told that POC are not there to teach him right from wrong. He then does the work of his own volition to learn why what he said is problematic and to apologize for his actions. This marks a significant moment of character growth. To sum up my thoughts, many reviewers seem to have difficulty understanding nuance; the presence of a concept does not denote the approval of it. (And regarding the antisemitism thing: there is a Jewish joke, it is not anti-Semitic, and it’s rather problematic to say that it is. I say this as a Jew.)

Anyways, to end on a positive note: I really, really like this book. It has fantastic representation (mental illness; sex positivity; religion; race); it goes in interesting directions that we don’t typically see in romances; and it’s funny as hell. I read it in one sitting. I understand why some people might dislike the book (like I said, Paris is a lot), but it’s absolutely worth a read. Recommended if you enjoy great representation; improbably named cats; romances without a misunderstanding at the 80% mark; books that are probably more bildungsroman than romance but romance still plays a prominent role; books that are more HFN than HEA; great descriptions of food.


Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a copy of the ARC in exchange for an honest review. But never fear; I won’t let the power go to my head. My brand is being a bitter queen, after all. I have a reputation to uphold.
Profile Image for Nico.
87 reviews2 followers
August 3, 2022
I received an arc from netgalley for this review -

You know who else is about to crumble? Me, for forcing myself to finish this. Hoo boy, there's a lot to unpack here.

Let's start with the racism. Yes, there is a lot of racism in this book. Yes, there is a warning for islamophobia at the beginning of the book. No, that is not enough. I don't know who sat down and thought "Hey, this book needs like 50 more pages of racism in it, we'll just slap a warning on there and it will be fine!"

And don't even get me started on the Nazism and Paris wondering if he's secretly antisemitic.

It's 2022, what the fuck.

Next, Paris is the most unlikable protagonist I have ever read. He's such an unreliable narrator that this should be an entirely different genera of book. It's basically House of Leaves but with baking. Yes, he has crippling anxiety, emphasis on the crippling part, but the book spends the entire time in his head and it's exhausting almost to the point of a caricature. He’s also just kinda a dick.

Paris was exhausted. I was exhausted. We were all exhausted.

The romance was an afterthought. The relationship was toxic. The only happily ever after that came from this book was me finishing it.

But hey, the cover is cute as hell.
Profile Image for Madison Warner Fairbanks.
2,239 reviews305 followers
December 4, 2022
Paris Daillencourt is About to Crumble by Alexis Hall
#2 of the Winner Bakes All series. M-M romcom.
Paris is a contestant of a famous British cooking show. He’s sure it will all be a failure. He meets competitor Tariq and the two become friendly.

Paris is a blubbering mess. He’s sure he is terrible at baking and is nervous of everything. But he goes on the show and tries his best.
He is a mess. And it went on for too long.
There was a reason. He has an anxiety disorder. And once diagnosed (at 80%) and he gets some therapy and treatment, he’s better. But by that time, I didn’t care if he repaired relationships or not.
And what’s with the parents? Missing in action.
It’s resolved romance at the end which was nice but I read to finish, not thinking he should be forgiven or given a second chance, but it’s a romance happily so I knew it would have a good ending.

There was some Weird verbiage such as “explainogised”.
“It felt suburban even though there was no particular urb for it to sub”
I’ve loved other books by this author. This one, too much for too long. Sorry.

I received a copy of this from NetGalley.
Profile Image for Anna.
1,350 reviews228 followers
July 26, 2022
I think I'm going to recommend people read this book when they asked me what my anxiety feels like just so they can get a glimpse of how exhausting it is. No wonder I'm tired all the time.

I have a lot of feelings about this book. I don't think that I loved it as much as Rosalie Palmer and from an objective perspective, this book isn't as well done, but it still means a lot to me.

As soon as I finished this book I anticipated the reviews. I knew exactly what people were going to say and it had a lot to do with our MC being exhausting and overwhelming and over the top and too much. And maybe Paris is all of that. But I think it's an important side of representation to have.

As someone who has generalized anxiety disorder and has lived with it for 20 years, it was almost too much for me to read the first half of this book. I spent the first 60 to 70% with bouts of sniffling and crying and my vision being blurry from tears but pushing forward anyway. It felt like my own brain on the page and that is terrifying. I mean truly I don't need two anxiety spirals 😅 but it also felt validating in a way. This book is not going to be for everyone and I almost wouldn't recommend it to people with anxiety because of how triggering it could be. There were a lot of moments where I felt exactly the same as Paris and all of a sudden I got worried that in real life people would react to my anxiety the way that they reacted to his and anxiety is a monster. It is a cycle that is moving so quickly that it feels actually impossible to throw yourself out of. I worry that the constant panic and anxiety representation in the first half of this book is going to trigger people with anxiety or it's going to completely put off people who don't have anxiety. I don't know if this was the best choice in writing and perhaps a dual POV would have helped break up that almost exhausting feeling you got when reading.

So even though I know the people are going to shit on this and I will come out and say that it's not as good as Rosaline Palmer, it is still a great book and one that I'm glad to have read. Is it one that I'm going to reread? Probably not for the sake of my mental health but it is one that I am grateful to have read and am excited to see reviews from other people. Also can we just get a round of applause for another cover with a rainbow cake? The queer baker in me is very happy.

A few other thoughts:. Tariq was awesome and I love that he had some own self-discovery moments at the end. I really appreciated seeing representation where sex was not on the table and it's not on the table for the entirety of the book. I love the ending. I really appreciate the discussion about therapy and how it's not okay to use mental illness as an excuse to treat people poorly. There are a lot of great conversations that happen beyond Paris's anxiety and that was great. I do wish there was more conversation about Paris's parents and I don't know how I feel about his flatmate.

Maybe I'll have more thoughts later. Who knows.

Okay I found some more thoughts.

I feel like people are going to expect this book to be a romance and while it includes romance that is not at the forefront. To me this book was about exploring mental illness, How mental illness affects those that have it and those that interact with that person, steps people can take to cope with anxiety specifically, and what living with a mental illness is like. There is a romance but it is a subplot at best. In my opinion this is more of a coming-of-age story. It isn't young adults but it is new adult. Our MC has very little social skills or basic common sense skills due to his upbringing in a very wealthy home. He doesn't recognize a lot of the trauma and emotional abuse that he's been through and it has resulted in massive massive anxiety that he doesn't even know there's a name for. This book is about Paris doing something big and making a lot of mistakes and learning to live with them.
Profile Image for thosemedallingkids.
337 reviews40 followers
October 15, 2022
DNF @ 15%

This book needed an editor, it also needed exponentially less N*zi and antisemitism casual conversations included for something publishing in 2022. Paris' anxiety representation was almost a caricaturization with how surface level "overthink everything" he was, with not much else included. If I had to describe this book in one word, it would be exhausting. We're also hit with the Hall specialty of extremely pretentious name and pop-culture dropping throughout the book - it's not as much fun when you need to bring a dictionary along while trying to read a romance. We also have the Hall special of his inability to write women in his books.

Included are some of my least favorite quotes:

Anyway, the point is that I wasn't going to let some lanky Sassenach scare me off with his oh I'm so aloof routine so I pinned him down after lectures one day and asked if he wanted to fuck me hard in the toilets. And he said actually I'm gay, and I said okay do you want to be coffee then. And we've been friends ever since.

- Morag, Paris' roommate explaining how she met him at university.

"... so I entered him - I mean I entered him into the competition, not with one of my many strap-ons - and out of thousands of contestants he's been selected as one of Britain's ten best amateur bakers."

- Morag, explaining how she entered him into the baking competition without his consent.

"Well, I'd say that's because I'm a fat Glaswegian sex goddess, but mostly it's because I fucking ask them if they want to have sex with me."

-Morag responding to Paris telling her that everyone is attracted to her.

It was the Cuban Missile Crisis in biscuit form. And for just a moment, Paris entertained the real possibility that he could be a Kennedy.

-Paris thinking to himself while making biscuits in the competition.

But I more sort of meant you have a" - Tariq framed him in a finger square - "classical vibe."
"Doesn't that just mean 'tiny penis'?"
Tariq's eyes widened. "Um...I...how did you get there? Because I really didn't mean to suggest anything about your penis at all. I'm sure your penis is, um, fine. Lovely even. But none of my business."

-Casual conversation between Paris and Tariq, where penises were discussed for another extra page.

And then the N*zi stuff that doesn't need to be repeated again and again. And Paris' catastrophizing about the fact that he might be secretly antisemitic and/or racist. For not knowing a type of dessert in the bake off competition. Again - exhausting.

I received an ARC copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Grace.
2,640 reviews118 followers
July 27, 2022
Thanks so much to NetGalley and Forever (Grand Central Publishing) for providing a free digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.
2.5 rounded down

I ended up not finishing the first book in this series, largely because I realized soon after starting it that the genre was just really not for me. I was hopeful that this second installment might be a better fit but, unfortunately, I think it's essentially more of the same, just with a male protagonist instead of a woman.

As always, Hall's writing is charming and the banter witty, though I will admit, I did sometimes find it a little exhausting. There was something almost... Gilmore Girls-y about it at times, which I loved that show! But it was a lot, and can feel a little unrealistic. And, speaking of exhausting... I'm with most of the reviewers here, and I found it quite a lot to be in Paris's head for most of the book. As somebody with anxiety, I do appreciate the rep and felt like the author did a great job with it, but it's pretty fucking stressful to read and didn't make for a super enjoyable experience. As many have suggested, I think it might have helped if we had a dual POV here, partially to break up the anxiety, and partially because I did find myself wanting to know a bit more of what Tariq was thinking.

But I think my biggest sort of gripe here, is that I was reading this for the romance, and I just... didn't think this was a romance, nor do I really even think the characters should end up together. I'll admit this is partly skewed expectations on my part (which, to be fair, were partly influenced by the blurb & marketing of the book) but also, given the age of Rosaline in the last book, I hadn't realized when I got this one that the characters are so young--like 21ish. And given everything they're going through--fame, competition, mental health crisis--I just didn't buy that they should be together and frankly imagine them splitting up eventually, which isn't exactly the feeling I want upon finishing a romance. I did appreciate the approach of mental health here and that ultimately you are responsible for the way you treat people even if there are mitigating circumstances, but I also found myself super frustrated with Tariq's handling of the situation. Which, thankfully, was eventually addressed, but due to the nature of Paris's self-deprecation (even after he starts addressing his anxiety) I personally never really felt it was satisfyingly handled.

As always, there's some great and thoughtful rep here on a number of levels, and while, again, I'm not personally super interested in reading a romance book where one of the characters wants to wait until marriage to have sex, I can appreciate its existence in the world. But given the above factors, even with some of the stuff I thought was well done and important, I just didn't particularly enjoy reading this book. It wasn't a fun experience. And for me, leaving a book feeling anxious and like the two characters who got together at the end probably will be split up within the year is not exactly a ringing endorsement. But YMMV. I've really struggled to enjoy most of Hall's recent stuff, as it sadly seems he's moving in a direction that is tonally and content-wise different from what I'm personally looking for.
Profile Image for Ellie.
815 reviews166 followers
October 17, 2022
Wow, I have no words! This is fabulous and I love everything about it (even if some of the dark moments were really rough for me to read).

I will try to review it properly closer to release but for now I can say this is my favourite romance by Alexis Hall.

It is tender and dark and funny and poignant, story of two young gay men finding their place in the world (separately and together).

Full review:

This is a brilliant NA queer romance and two young men coming into their own and learning to love each other in the process.

This book is very much on the vein of Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake - contemporary queer romance, a bit darker even, with serious focus on character growth.

The story is told from Paris who has undiagnosed and untreated anxiety for most of the book. It doesn't make for a light reading, there are some very dark moments. I found many of Paris' experiences relatable in some aspect that made me pause and put the book aside. At the same time I desperately wanted Paris to get better, to be happy and loved, so I rushed back to the book to see how this will happen because I trusted fully the author that Paris will get there in the end.

The parental neglect which is furthest from my experience hit me the hardest. Paris texting his parents made me cry and I am never forgiving anyone for treating their child like that and I am super happy Paris didn't either.

Both Paris and Tariq are in their 20s and act like it - with all the dreams and confusion and mistakes of youth. I appreciate the focus on kindness and the realistic presentation of mental illness throughout the story.

I loved Paris while also realising how exhausting he could be. I could see how he wanted to be a decent human being but his fears and anxiety made annoying and self-centered, hurting the people that cared about him. I think he was (mis)guided by his belief that he is unlovable, he is too much and there is nothing that can be done about it. It was honestly painful to read.

But then there was Tariq who was all light and brightness and glitter and carried the promise of fun, the possibility of love.

As the story goes on we see that things are not quite perfect in Tariq's life either. There are/were issues in his family but there is also honesty and communication and working together through the hard stuff. Something that was completely missing from Paris' life.

I liked how Alexis Hall explored the issues of power and privilege - Paris is a white, rich, cis queer man yet when we first meet him he is absolutely vulnerable, devastatingly lonely and unable to maintain healthy relationships (lovers, friends, competitors on the reality baking show).

Tariq, on the other hand, is like a ray of sunshine - easy going and friendly and loving Paris. He is a gay Muslim Indian, middle class, really quite underprivileged and vulnerable in the eyes of society but atthe some time he is moving through life with self-confidence and poise.

They try a relationship but it couldn't really happen until Paris got the medical help he needed. Tariq also had a lot to learn about himself and what being in a relationship meant. It was a process of growth for both of them and loved seeing it. .

As usual, loved the author's sense of humour that lightened an otherwise heavy story. And as usual it all made me emotional and made me cry. And as usual the supporting characters were great, Tariq's family (no shying away from the problems there as well), Paris' roommate and basically only friend, the baking show - colourful backdrop to Paris and Tariq's journey towards their true selves and the couple they get to be in the end.

This review has become more personal than my usual reviews but very often Alexis Hall's books speak to me on a deep personal level and make me emotional which in turns makes my reviews of his books emotional messes of incoherent praise and sharing personal experiences.

As I have often said about his stories - they are not easy, glossed over romances, rather they show some harsh truths but are ultimately hopeful and that is what I like best about them - the promise of happiness, the potential for everyone to love and be loved.

CW: general anxiety disorder, panic attack (on page), parental neglect, homophobia, islamophobia, cyber bullying
Profile Image for Anniek.
1,767 reviews651 followers
September 17, 2022
If you're exhausted or annoyed reading this book, please consider how completely debilitating it can be to live with this kind of anxiety. Paris was a MESS, yes, but I empathized with him so much. I have anxiety myself and it just wreaks havoc on your life.

I loved Alexis Hall's writing as usual, but I do feel like the pacing was slightly off here. I just feel like Paris and Tariq started dating very VERY easily, while hardly knowing each other, and Tariq kept giving Paris passes for his behaviour based on him being pretty and making assumptions about his personality? I loved them both, but I didn't quite understand their relationship initially. Maybe this was because of how young they were, though!

I also wish Paris had started becoming a little more self aware and working on himself a little earlier in the book. Most of the book was Paris being a Huge Fucking Mess, and only in the final part did he start taking matters in his own hands.

I did however love the ending - it was moreso an HFN than an HEA, which I think was very fitting because of how much they still need to learn about each other.
Profile Image for Charlie.
84 reviews360 followers
December 2, 2022
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Janet (iamltr).
1,070 reviews35 followers
August 2, 2022
I feel like I should get a gold star for finishing this one. I don't know why it wasn't edited to remove a couple of hundred pages, but it really needed it. Also, this is not a romance. It has subtle whiff of romance, but this does not end with a HFN/HEA.

This book also had a heck of lot of racist words, ideas, and thoughts. I will not focus on them as others have done a much better job that I could have. But how in the world could this happen in the year of 2022?

If the one Bangladeshi in the competition goes out because a white guy hit him in the face with a fridge I will be... completely unsurprised. #bakeexpectations

If Tanya doesn’t win this whole thing I’m not paying my licence fee next year #bakeexpectations

im just gona say it paris can hit me with a fridge any time #bakeexpectations #gotohornyjail

A Muslim drag queen talking about the environment is peak BBC. #bakeexpectations

Spoilers ahead, you have been warned.

Alrighty, onto to the story. Apparently this was based on the great british baking show, which I have never seen so most of that part flew over my head.

In this one we have Paris who seriously should have had help years before this book happened. Someone at his boarding school should have noticed and gotten him help. He was not just anxious, he had serious mental issues. I mean, he could not even speak in full sentences. Being that this was only in one POV, we could only see things from Paris' view and he was an unreliable narrator at best. His parents abandoned him, he lived in this expensive flat with a woman who was supposed to be his friend, but did nothing but torture him, and a cat that deserved better. And I need to mention that the phrase "Because she was a cat" was typed out more than once, and drove me batty. Of course she is a cat, you told us that many many times!

It was not only that cat that was done wrong, let's talk about the roommate. It may be that I did not want to read about vagina cookies, but that opening was rough. The only one I liked from the beginning was the naked guy who ate the vagina cookies.

“Everyone’s attracted to you.”

“Well, I’d say that’s because I’m a fat Glaswegian sex goddess, but mostly it’s because I fucking ask them if they want to have sex with me.”

That was one of the best lines she got. I am not sure who these books are aimed at, but its not women, non white people, nor romance readers because the rep of all of these people was bad.

Now Paris was entered into this baking competition by this roommate and went through with it because he had mental issues. He meets Tariq, who he tries to be in a relationship with. It does not work out. Now I want to put in here that this was in a 3 month time frame. He did the show, met the guy, got broken up with, and fainted due to anxiety all in 3 months.

After he fainted, he was told he had to go to group therapy and get some help. So he does. And it actually seems to be working. He tries to get back with Tariq, but the other guy doesn't really want to be in a relationship but Paris actually pushes on this and he gives in a little bit and decides to be his friend.

I am not going to lie, all the way up to 80% was a freaking slog. It got a little better after Paris started working on himself, but I went into this thinking I was getting a romance. I did not get that here. And it honestly had nothing to do with the lack of sex. If had to do with the fact that at the end of the story, Paris and Tariq are not together. Did they talk about getting back together? Somewhat, but it was iffy. There was a kiss, but a kiss does not make it a romance. At the end Paris was alone, but doing better, which is awesome, but not what I was expecting.

I got this one from netgalley
Profile Image for Dennis.
774 reviews1,480 followers
September 22, 2022


I will always stop everything I'm doing to read an Alexis Hall gay romance novel. I don't know how they can push so many amazing books out each year, with each being so unique to its own voice. That said, because each book is so unique, not every Alexis Hall book will land with every reader. Hall's newest release, PARIS DAILLENCOURT IS ABOUT TO CRUMBLE, is middle of the road for me. If you love the show 'The Great British Baking Show' and you like MM romance, definitely pick this one up! It's more anxiety-driven and 'phobia' driven. We get some triggers such as homophobia, islamophobia, anxiety and panic attacks, etc., but this book does really well in unraveling them and making them talking points for conversation. The romance is definitely lacking in this book, but I absolutely loved the baking competition aspect of it and would recommend you reading the book solely on that storyline alone. I can't wait to pick up the next Alexis Hall book!
Profile Image for ellie.
661 reviews1,476 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
October 18, 2022
i hate dnfing ARCs, but from the very first page, this book was truly unbearable for me.

the writing style was... insufferable. it was so hard to read— superfluous dialogue and off-tangent inner monologues really hindered the fluidity. the way each character spoke and interacted felt inauthentic and was exhausting to keep up with. while the attempts at humour and being quirky failed miserably with all the really annoying pop-culture references. they just stifled the authenticity of the dialogue and i just couldn’t bear to listen to any of them speak.

and because of this, i wasn’t attached to any of the characters, least of all Paris. the moment i realise i don’t care about any of the characters, it’s game over for me and the book.

thank you to NetGalley and Little Brown Book Group for the ARC in exchange for an honest review!
Profile Image for erraticdemon.
114 reviews30 followers
December 27, 2022
1 star; DNF @ 16%

I have committed a hate crime against myself by trying to read this book after the dumpster fire of Husband Material. I have been hoisted by my own petard of systematically reading and reviewing AJH's heel turn through his books. Or maybe I thought it'd be an ok book because it has cookies in it. Unfortunately for me specifically, IT IS NOT.

In 16% AJH managed to squeeze in comments about Nazis, Jewish people, Muslims, ancient Greeks, Egyptians, people from Glasgow, hippies, the French, penises, various political parties, and public schools (UK version). I have no idea if these were meant to be funny or AJH's incessant need to use his widely published books for half-baked social commentary and I am not going to waste any of my time trying to parse it out. Either way it shouldn't be in a light-hearted romcom about baking.

But that isn't even my biggest problem with the book. What was making me want to crawl into the earth and die was 1) turning every word possible into a verb or adjective and repeating it a thousand times and 2) the horrifying amounts of self-loathing narcissistic victim complex Paris has. Didn't I get enough of this from Luc in Husband Material! Is this a cry for help from AJH? Because what the fuck. I don't want to read a book with this garbage in it! I mean, look:

Paris didn't quite wring his hands, but he moved his hands in a wringular direction

showing his face-fridge-hitting face

The look that said there's something wrong with you, and I'm not certain I like it.

Paris's penile babbling.

They were still in a frozen tableau of phallically induced embarrassment

A truly enormous level of enormity

I don't know what this writing style is but it's super obnoxious to read. And what makes it worse is there are some glimmers of old-AJH particularly with the feeling of anxiety Paris has. But then it's ruined with crap like "penile babbling".

Finally, the chocolate chip cookie dough recipe(s) are super wrong. You don't need to chill chocolate chip cookie dough at all before baking and can make soft and chewy cookies immediately after mixing your ingredients together! Every baker on earth can manage a non-chilled chocolate chip cookie probably! Yet every character was shoving their shit into the fridges which led to the super fun and zany accident of Paris slamming his fridge's door into Tariq's face causing Tariq to bleed everywhere and trigger a self-loathing spiral in Paris so bad it still wasn't over when I hit my breaking point.

As Tariq told Paris, "Blank stares and running away are your whole thing" and when it comes to reading 90% of the drivel AJH has written since 2020 I highly recommend everyone do the same.

I received an ARC copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Monika K.
149 reviews9 followers
November 5, 2022
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨ 4.5 Stars

The second book in Alexis Hall’s “Winner Bakes All” series takes place in the same world as Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake, and is set on the same Bake Expectations competition show with the same host, judges & producer (Jennifer is still my favorite), but it has very different themes and a different story structure to Rosaline. It wasn’t cookie-cutter and that made it feel fresh.

I also wouldn’t consider this to be as much of a romcom as Rosaline. Yes it’s very funny and sweet at times, but Paris has severe anxiety which reminded me of The Charm Offensive with its mental health rep. It’s intense at moments, with anxiety spirals and an on-page panic attack, so please go in gently if you find reading about anxiety issues triggering. There is way more off-camera and post-filming life instead of every show detail, which I loved. Now that we know this baking world, Hall decided to take a turn and talk about other things instead: how anxiety affects you and the people around you, being Muslim and queer, cyberbullying, being white and privileged, but not happy, being diagnosed and learning coping mechanisms. It is deftly blended together.

Paris falls for Tariq, a fellow contestant who is a queer Muslim man with strong religious beliefs. They are both 20 and still figuring themselves out, and although there is no sex in this book, I found it refreshing for a romance novel and right for the story as it shows that a romantic connection can exist without it. But there is lots of kissing, talking and banter! Tariq is the cutest thing ever with his nicknames “Honey” and “Angel Cake”, his personal style of mixing patterns and his shimmery nail varnish. Tariq’s own self-worth becomes a safe space for Paris and helps to calm him down. And Paris’s roommate and best friend Morag, the self-titled Glaswegian sex goddess, is one of the best side characters I’ve read lately.

From their very first encounter The Banter is so good. Hall writes some of the best banter I’ve ever read and it’s in this book as a way to break up the intensity. It filled me with such joy I had a smile on my face as I was reading it and had me cry laughing at moments. Why are there so many euphemisms and puns in baking terminology? It’s endlessly funny.

Hall writes about anxiety and depression in such a relatable way and it’s shown up in a few of his books. Paris has anxiety in a different way than Ash (Glitterland) or Luc (Boyfriend Material). His anxiety spirals are spoken out loud, while Ash and Luc keep it inside (for the reader to know) and cover it up with sarcastic jokes instead. Because the spirals are so well-written, they felt more intense and it was challenging to read at times. But the growth and discovery they both go on apart and together is very satisfying.

If you are a fan of Rosaline or The Charm Offensive or The Heart Principle where a delightful love story is wrapped in depicting mental health issues, I would recommend this book.


I was delighted to receive this ARC. Thanks so much to NetGalley and Forever!!
Profile Image for dobbs the dog.
576 reviews11 followers
October 3, 2022
Reread via audio October 2022

Basically what I already said. Listening was A LOT. Reading Paris’s anxiety was difficult, but hearing it narrated was even more so. So, be cautious if anxiety and panic attacks are something that you have difficulty reading.

Received from Edelweiss, thanks!

CW: Racism, on page panic attack, cyberbullying

Wooo! I get to post the first real review on GR!

Okay. It was really good. Despite it being the second in the Winner Bakes All series it felt completely different to Rosaline. Like, it had the same Bake Expectations characters, and similar structure, but also not. There was a lot more post-show than what was in Rosaline, and I really enjoyed that. I don’t think the book would have worked if it had followed exactly the same structure.

Gah, I’m having such a hard time writing this because I kind of just want to say all the things, but I also don’t want to give anything away and don’t want to stick this behind spoilers.

I think that Paris’ anxiety was really well described/explored. As someone who suffers from anxiety (though not to the extent that Paris does), I completely understood how his brain was working and what he was going through. I really appreciated his mental health journey, it felt very accurate, and I also really loved the realizations that his friends come to over the course of the book, in relation to his mental health.

I also really loved Paris’ relationship with Tariq. It was a bit different and included something I didn’t think I would like in a romance, but that really really worked in this story. I just really loved Paris and Tariq, for different reasons, and my feelings shifted a bit over the course of the book, but overall, really love them.

Very much enjoyed this and am so grateful to have gotten an early copy! I will likely come back when this is out and write a more in depth review, flailing about all the things.
Profile Image for tracie reads.
359 reviews2 followers
August 13, 2022
Edited 8/13/22 to remove spoiler and make a tiny bit more concise:

I think it’s important to have realistic expectations before reading this book. This is marketed as a rom-com, but (similar to Rosaline, the first book in the series,) I’m not sure I would call it that. As stated in the title, Paris Daillencourt is actually, literally, about to crumble. This is written in third person, but the reader closely witnesses Paris’s thoughts as he deals with overwhelming anxiety. PLEASE MIND THE CW! They’re available on the author’s website. When I read the CW, I thought I would be fine because I don’t have personal experience with anxiety disorder or panic attacks, but it was A LOT to bear witness to Paris’s slow path toward crumbling. I wanted to reach into the book and give him a hug, reassure him that he was okay, and encourage him to seek therapy ASAP. Are there funny bits, light moments, banter, and flirting? Yes. But keep in mind they are encircled by the dark cloud of Paris’s anxiety, much like how he experiences life, I imagine.

I also think it’s important to realize this book stretches the boundaries of what gatekeepers would consider a romance. Alexis Hall is always challenging norms with his writing, and I believe he challenges, intentional or otherwise, the norms of what is considered a romance novel with this book. Does romance play a central role? Yes, as seen through the cloud of Paris’s anxiety. Does it have a HFN/HEA? Yes. In a way that is very realistic for these two young men.

I liked this book, and I look forward to re-reading on audio when it’s released. Paris evoked such empathy from me, and I loved getting to see him work through his crumbling and get to the other side. This book subverts norms, of the genre and heteronormativity in general, and does it with such care for the characters and readers. I recommend it for readers who are willing to experience what this book has to offer, without trying to force it to follow cookie cutter conventions.

Note: You do not have to read Rosaline before you read Paris. There are a few returning characters (hosts and staff at the tv show), and there are a few references to things that happened during Rosaline's season on the show, but they do not negatively impact the reader's understanding of this book.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC in return for my unbiased review.
Profile Image for Carole Bell.
Author 2 books120 followers
August 6, 2022
A beautiful portrait of a young man with chronic anxiety growing into his own skin and growing into love.
Profile Image for Becs.
115 reviews2 followers
October 12, 2022
ARC courtesy of Forever (thank you!)
CW: Racism, Islamophobia (challenged), on page panic attack, MC with general anxiety disorder

- 2nd read in anticipation of publication day November 1, 2022 - and edited review with a bit more detail -

...maybe and if only and do I dare want this? It felt strange and fragile and, if he dared believe in it, just slightly wonderful.

...sometimes just a hug was its own kind of magic"

I loved this so very much. The second Alexis Hall book in the Winner Bakes All series is very different from Rosaline Palmer. The weekly reality show set-up is here, but we spend more time away from the show with the MC, Paris Daillencourt, and I loved it. There's still plenty of "show" with Grace Forsythe, Wilfred Honey, Marianne Wolvercote, the other contestants and the bakes; but now that readers are familiar with the set-up it felt right to spend a bit more time away from it. I also enjoyed the nod to some previous contestants that have appeared on a very similar baking show and the social media hellscape that surround contestants on these shows.

I absolutely adored Paris - a character with major anxiety issues that are interfering with his daily life. Told from Paris' POV, we see exactly how much he is struggling and failing to cope. His only friend, Morag (a self described fat Glaswegian sex goddess) signs him up for the baking competition where he meets and falls for fellow contestant, Tariq Hassan. Their romance is deftly crafted - from their truly disastrous meeting, awkward first date, and hesitant attempts to build a relationship. Tariq is sexy, complicated, and passionate with Tigger energy, humor and endless kindness. He is much more confident than Paris and confronts all character's (including Paris) assumptions and microaggressions about his religion and identity. Both characters are 20 and still growing emotionally and figuring out their lives - or at least this section of their lives. I loved both of them.

I'm attempting to not give too many details or spoilers in this review. It is truly lovely and wonderful. I was laughing on the first page and throughout the book and having all the emotions with and for Paris and celebrating his personal growth. The sections when Paris's anxiety spirals out of control are stressful but are written so well, relatable for anyone who experiences anxiety (and I think readers should go in with that information, the on-page anxiety descriptions are intense).
Profile Image for ash ✩‧₊˚.
293 reviews764 followers
Shelved as 'not-released-yet'
July 24, 2022
omgomg this sounds so sweet and prefect for fall <3
Profile Image for Aldi.
1,112 reviews86 followers
November 18, 2022
So. I had a lot of feelings about this book, and literally not a single one is about all the things the marketing promised this book was, all of which it patently isn’t, but I’ll get to that in a minute. A few incredibly shallow things first, because I am incredibly shallow:
1) That cover is delicious. Like, stupidly delicious. I don’t even usually like the illustrated trend, but this is ADORABLE and sparkly and makes me crave a rainbow cake every single time I look at it.
2) It is so very sad that all the baking challenges in this fictional baking competition are infinitely more appealing and scrumptious-sounding than anything the poor contestants had to make in the most recent GBBO, lol. Fuck off with your vertical tarts, commemorative biscuit sculptures and cooking-not-baking things – I want every single baked item from this book, stat.
3) The baking competition setting still works really well and I was generally impressed with the structure. Grace is a treasure and the other contestants were fun.

Ok. On to the main course, which is… I liked this quite a lot? I can’t honestly say “enjoyed” because it IS a very authentic and excruciating depiction of someone living with crippling anxiety, but I was very invested and just wanted to cuddle Paris a lot. HOWEVER. Literally the only reason I was in a receptive space for the kind of book this actually is, is that I was forewarned and forearmed, thanks to thoughtful and detailed early reviews. If I had gone into this blind… actually if I’d gone into it without knowing anything about it at all, it’d probably have been fine too. BUT if I’d gone into it expecting it to be the kind of book I had been told it was, by any and all of the author’s promo work and other marketing, I would have crumpled like a mousse that hasn’t set properly or spun sugar on a hot day. If I had read this, in a week that was already quite stressful for various reasons, and I was being quite anxious for said reasons, and I’d trustingly opened this fucking book expecting the fucking feel-good fluffy baking romcom it was being sold as, I would have been SO INCREDIBLY PISSED. And, y’know, anxious. And stressed out. And the opposite of feel-good, or fluffy, or rom-comy, or indeed bakey.

As it is, I knew I should expect a highly authentic, potentially triggering, somewhat exhausting single-POV story of a young guy struggling with a massive undiagnosed anxiety disorder, with a somewhat marginal side of romance, and that the reading experience would basically be non-stop immersion in the main character’s never-ending doomspiral of despair, self-loathing, self-fulfilling disaster prophecies, and self-sabotage. Which. It is that. And knowing what it was and being braced for it allowed me to enjoy it for what it was, and feel those feelings of empathy, and love Paris quite a lot, and root for him and Tariq quite a lot more than I’d even expected.

There is definitely less romance than you’d expect from the cover and the blurb and the romcom label and, well, everything. But I really liked what there was. I liked both characters, I liked that it started low-key, I didn’t even mind the no-sex-before-marriage thing because I thought it was handled well. I was SO happy when Paris finally started to get some help, though I wish it could’ve come sooner. I also, surprisingly, didn’t mind that the end of the book leaves his and Tariq’s relationship on a somewhat tentative note, because it seemed to suit them – they are both really young, they’re growing as people, it felt like what they’d had was meaningful and what they still might have was hopeful and even if it didn’t last, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Again though, probably not a popular note to end on if you’re promoting this as a BAKING ROMANCE, lol.

So yeah. I thought the book was well-written, well-paced, painfully authentic about anxiety, and as usual deft and insightful about complicated emotions. It engaged me. It made me feel things. But I can’t help feeling that you really shouldn’t have to side-sneak your way into liking a book by way of preventative innoculation by spoilers instead of, say, being able to trust an author and their publisher to accurately present a book as what it actually fucking is instead of trying to shove it into this twee baking romance niche that is, at best, a bit of pretty background deco. I had the same problem with the first book, which I also thought was blatantly mismarketed, and it irritates me so much. I am looking at the blurb for Paris RIGHT NOW and it’s… simply not accurate, as in, that’s just really not what the book’s about or even in the right order or causality of events. And I guess I don’t understand why. I would have liked the book more if it didn’t have all this cutesey misrepresentative crap stacked up against it, and I can’t imagine people who genuinely expect a fun escapist baking romcom are going to be pleased with a heavily mental-health focused coming-of-age story instead (especially when anxiety is something quite a lot of people struggle with themselves).

This is another thing I’ve harped on about (and a thing that feels weird to complain about) but I’m still trying to come to terms with the fact that Alexis Hall has moved quite a long way away from the things I loved about his early books, and into a decidedly more mainstream direction. Which, cool for him, it’s just very much not what I’m looking for and I’m taking a long time to internalise the fact that he’s not an auto-buy for me anymore. Even some of the things that I used to find genuinely charming in earlier books, like his tendency to make up quirky words, is making me roll my eyes a lot in books like this one where it’s just gone way over the top. Some of the most ridic examples: “unbecattenated” (not occupied by a cat), “Paris gavehimed” (in response to Tariq saying “gimme”), “embikening” (getting on a bike). My dude. These are ludicrous. Just use normal words.

I know that seems like a lot of cross griping for a 4-star review. I’m just grumpy because I kinda feel like liking a book should not be in spite of its marketing team trying to make you like it for something it isn’t. I loved Paris and he deserved better from everyone, including whoever was behind every single marketing decision about this book.
Profile Image for Carol (bookish_notes).
1,318 reviews109 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
July 28, 2022
I'm choosing to DNF for now at 30%. Being in Paris's head the entire book (it's told entirely from his perspective, third-person) is a LOT. He's a very anxious person, and I am also an anxious person, so it's too much. And I say this as someone who usually likes characters with anxiety in books (for instance, Misha Horne and Erin McLellan do this really well), but I'm not sure what it is here with this particular book. The way Paris's anxiety is written just feels like a drag to read and kind of feels like it keeps the reader at a distance.

Considering the lack of romance in the first book, I wasn't expecting much on that front, but there IS more romance development in this book than Rosaline Palmer? And I'm the weird one who wants more baking and Bake Expectations drama than try to see Paris figure out his feelings with Tariq because all their interactions so far have me cringing more than rooting for them.

Paris is a rich, (tall) white gay guy with parents in fashion. Tariq describes himself as "short gay British Bangladeshi Muslim" and is solidly middle class. And I can't really speak for the rep here for Tariq, but there's moments between Tariq and Paris that has me side-eyeing the book a bit, like their relationship is starting out with Tariq having to school Paris on his ignorance and there's a lot already by the 30% mark where the burden seems to be on Tariq to teach Paris about himself and it gets my hackles up while reading? Because outside of these educational moments, Tariq READS more like he's white. There's just a lot of very in-your-face scenes that LETS the reader know that Tariq isn't supposed to be white, and the whole thing is just very awkward to me and I think perhaps Alexis Hall is not the best person to write a BIPOC character when he himself is not. So, maybe this book will appeal more to white people than those of us who are not.

Like my issues with Husband Material, this book also goes out of its way to address social issues in a way that does not feel organically put into the book, but more like it tries to hammer viewpoints on the reader's head with it. And the thing is, I do agree with the viewpoints in the book, but the way it's presented is just...way over the top? It's too much.

My favorite parts of this book so far have definitely been the actual baking itself on the show, and of course my favorite secondary characters from the first book - Jennifer (the foul-mouthed producer) and Colin (Jennifer's assistant). Jennifer and Colin are great and provide the appropriate amount of entertainment I expected from them. I'm surprised there's no plans for Colin to get his own HEA? I think that could be fun to read about, and seeing Jennifer deal with that if Colin falls in love with a contestant could be interesting.

I should mention that this book is hinting at being very low steam. Rosaline Palmer had some sexy scenes, but based on the conversation between Paris and Tariq in this book, it doesn't seem likely that their relationship will go further than kissing. So, this book won't even be closed door or fade-to-black, unless something major changes.

Will I continue this book when it comes out in audio? I don't know. Depends on who's narrating the book, and depends on whether I'll be in the mood for it. Because coming off of reading and being so disappointed in Husband Material, I don't feel as inclined to finish this book when even getting to the 30% mark has felt like a chore.

***Thanks to the publisher for providing me this e-ARC on NetGalley***
Profile Image for Jane (whatjanereads).
530 reviews93 followers
January 8, 2023
TW: actually this book contains amazing TWs in the beginning!
Rep: general anxiety disorder, gay MC, gay bangladeshi muslim LI, lesbian SCs

Alexis Hall is a complete hit or miss for me.
This one definitely was a super hit!
I loved everything about this, starting with the amazing style of writing, the humour of it, the amazing characters and the amazing anxiety rep.

Paris is an incredible baker and cook, so his roommate decides to enrol him for his favourite TV baking show.
As fate (and his skills) have it, he actually gets a spot and now has to take part in a baking competition every weekend.
The thing is, Paris is not good with people. He’s extremely awkward, strange and unknown places freak him out. So maybe being on TV in a stressful situation, baking unknown dishes surrounded by strangers in a time limit isn’t the best idea?!
But Paris hasn’t always been like that, so he can definitely do this! Or can he?

I hated seeing how Paris was getting worse and worse the more pressure he felt. I just wanted to go hug him and look for a nice therapy place for this poor guy.
It all felt uncomfortably relatable from time to time.
The situation with his parents and his inability to stop imagining more and more horrible scenarios making him unable to participate in any kind of relationship made me hurt so badly for him.
All the attention and the social media stuff on top were just the last drop.
What this book especially made me realise: maybe the people crying on TV shows all the time and the people being mega stressed and crying over a test and getting an A in the end aren’t actually annoying asshats. Maybe they’re just under a lot of stress and their mind is telling themselves horrible things. Maybe we should be a little more understanding.

While I hated everything happening to and with him, it was all done in such a realistic way and still with so much humour I loved reading about it. Simply because it was extremely well done.
Paris was a complete mess, yes. And it’s just the way how you feel and think and in the end act with a disorder like that.
Realising you need help and actually finding the will and motivation to seek it are no easy tasks! Being told you’re mentally ill is no fun I’m telling you out of experience!
Also being able to find help so quickly is not normal. Paris was in an extremely privileged position, please mind this!
Sometimes it takes months to get a place in therapy!

We need books like this! Especially romance books. Being mentally ill and finding love aren’t exclusive.
I loved Tariq. And while I can’t say anything about how well his rep was, I loved reading about his culture and his family.
I liked how realistic their relationship was portrayed, the ups and downs and the open talking.
I loved how Tariq wasn’t the perfect curer of Paris’ ills. He made huge mistakes and he admitted to them.

In the end this book was simply hilarious, heartwarming and still hit you right in the feels.
It was a very realistic portrait of how it looks and feels to have a mental health issue and live with it.
I loved everything about this and can’t wait to read the other books in this series now.
Profile Image for greyreads.
249 reviews36 followers
November 21, 2022
Thank you to Netgalley for the ARC.

Oh boy, where to start? First of all I think I deserve a medal for managing to slog through this book. I had an absolutely terrible time reading it and the only reason why I finished it is because I kept hoping it would get better and also because I would like to get to 100 books on my goodreads challenge.
Let’s start with Paris, our main character. He has generalized anxiety disorder, which is literally crippling to him. Now I have severe anxiety, almost identical to his, so keep that in mind. I know what it’s like to be unable to function due to anxiety. Anyways, Paris is a total dick. For most of the book there’s hardly anything redeemable about his character, and I don’t think you can blame his extreme self centred-ness on just his anxiety. Paris, in my opinion, was a caricature of someone with anxiety, and not proper representation. He has moments of being VERY culturally ignorant, which again is blamed on his anxiety. He also spirals about being anti-Semitic and N*zi because he didn’t know a Jewish recipe they had to bake on the show. That part was completely unnecessary and shouldn’t have been included. He’s a rich white guy who thinks he’s not rich and it’s very aggravating. The whole book is just his spirals of anxiety, + a tiny bit of plot. Yes this is accurate to what anxiety is like, but this was a book marketed as a romance, not a contemporary book about anxiety with a romance subplot. It got exhausting to read, with his consistent self deprecation, and everyone trying to tell him he’s not horrible. Is his debilitating self esteem accurate to real life? Somewhat, but not something I want to read a 368 page book about. Like it gave *me* anxiety having to read through his constant spirals.
Paris was truly awful to Tariq, his Muslim boyfriend. 99% of their conversations were about Paris, Tariq felt like he was just there to serve as the catalyst for character growth for Paris. Paris somehow refuses to believe that he has anxiety, which like, come on. Also Tariq and Paris had zero chemistry, this is the kind of romance that 100% will not last
I’m not Muslim, so I can’t say whether or not the queer Muslim representation was good, but if someone who is sees this and is a queer Muslim who has read this book, feel free to add your thoughts! I would love to hear your perspective. What I will say though is that Tariq deserved better. He deserved someone he didn’t have to educate and he deserved someone who wasn’t going to be culturally and religiously insensitive to him.
The baking plot was lacking, and honestly felt cartoonish.
Overall, I think I genuinely hated this book, and it takes a lot for me to hate a book.
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