Desert Isle Keeper
For Butter or Worse
For Butter or Worse is a contemporary romance following workplace rivals who fake a relationship for public relations reasons, only to find themselves actually enjoying the charade.
Nina is a female chef in a fairly male-dominated industry, and the last thing she needs is her coworker throwing her under the bus on live TV. Nina knows Leo hated her on sight, and she has no interest in placating his ego, especially given that he isn’t even a chef.
Leo is a businessman trying to keep his family’s restaurant legacy afloat. He’s proud of what his father built, and wants to keep its foundation strong, but he fears he’ll never be respected in the food world. Being on a cooking show was supposed to help the brand, but Leo can’t help sniping back when Nina needles him. Unfortunately, this clash only escalates, culminating in an on-air fight that makes Nina look really, really bad.
When the paparazzi mistakenly believe the caustic coworkers to be a couple, Leo and Nina decide it will be mutually beneficial to fake a relationship to generate good publicity. Their plan just might work, as long as they can keep their mutual loathing under control.
I loved this book, which contains so many of my favorite things: mental health representation, rivals to lovers, reality television and well-written secondary characters. In particular, the depiction of anxiety is poignant and important and I found the families of the main characters to be very real; they add to the narrative without drawing too much attention away from the plot.
The workplace animosity works really well here. It’s sometimes difficult to pull off a realistic antagonism without assigning too much blame to one character, but I really enjoyed the way the characters’ conflict plays out. Both of the main characters experience a lot of growth, though Leo probably takes center stage at times. I really loved him, though, he’s deeply complex, and it’s easy to like him when reading from his perspective. Nina is also really special; she goes through a lot but never fails to advocate for herself. I loved that she’s unapologetic about her ambition and her desire to succeed. Her frustration with how she is perceived is super relatable, even if you’re not a reality television host.
For Butter or Worse is a delightful read with both humorous moments and serious notes that make the happily ever after all the sweeter.