Hello, everyone! Today I’m reviewing Paris Daillencourt Is About to Crumble by Alexis Hall. I’ve enjoyed all of the books I’ve read by Hall. So, I was excited to see this one pop up on NetGalley and to get approved to read it.
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.
***Thank you to Forever for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley. My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***
This book was nothing like I expected it to be. I went into it wanting to see a cute romance set during a baking challenge on reality TV, but instead it ended up being a character study illustrating what it is like to live with crippling anxiety that spirals out of control until you have a complete mental breakdown. The anxiety in this book was intense and seemed to take over the entire story, which was a realistic portrayal of living with the disorder but made for tedious reading at times. I was struck by how demoralizing and isolating Paris’s experience of anxiety seemed, and I found myself relating to it in ways that made me quite uncomfortable. In addition to all the anxiety, there was a romance plot, but I didn’t really care for it. It didn’t make sense to me why Tariq stuck around, which is likely a product of only getting Paris’s catastrophizing perspective. It also felt like Tariq was always trying to fix Paris, which I usually don’t enjoy reading. I liked Tariq, though, and appreciated his character allowed for the exploration of important ideas related to the intersection of sexual orientation and religious identity. The writing was very stream of consciousness, but it had the typical Hall wit and humor. There were so many turns of phrase that I loved, but it all felt somewhat weighed down by the severity of the anxiety. Many moments I didn’t know whether I should laugh or cry because Paris was so horribly awkward, and it was often in a way that made me feel sorry for him rather than something I found funny. Thankfully, both Paris and Tariq grew considerably over the course of the book, and it provided a decent picture of how therapy can be useful while also being a ton of work. I just wish the growth had happened a bit earlier in the book because it felt like most of the story was just Paris spiraling more and more out of control. Finally, the book was incredibly British. I read a lot of books by British authors and watch a decent amount of British TV, but there were still a lot of references and jokes that went over my head. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, and it didn’t really change my feelings about the book. I just wanted to note it because I think it could be disruptive for others. Overall, this book did a good job portraying the struggle with chronic anxiety, but it didn’t really deliver on the advertised romcom. Therefore, I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars because I liked the realness of the mental health rep and therapy depictions. However, if you’re looking for a fun romcom, I suggest you keep looking elsewhere.