Review of Love & Latkes

Love & Latkes by B.A. Huntley. Less Than Three Press. 2016.

Love & Latkes by B.A. HuntleyI wanted to read this book because I’m putting together a list of m/f romances with queer and trans MCs and this has a trans heroine. Plus it seemed to be a Chanukah romance (December release, latkes in the title, reference to Chanukah in the blurb), and I love holiday romances and have a special place in my heart for Chanukah romances as a Jewish reader.

I wasn’t over the moon about the story, it’s slice of life, quietly told, and the characters didn’t particularly grab me. The trans representation was okay; not particularly great, but just fine. Which generally sets things far above the majority of trans representation in romances not written by trans and/or non-binary authors. It’s especially difficult to find romances with trans women MCs that hit the “just fine” bar, so this story is a cut above the pack in that regard.

There is queer chosen family in this story; the trans woman love interest is chosen sisters with a queer trans man secondary character (who I adored). It is through this character (who is pregnant, by the way), that the MCs meet. I really appreciate it when trans MCs have other trans people in their life, its a rarety in trans romance. And some of the chosen family aspects were sweet.

However, this book is a huge disappointment as a holiday romance, and was hurtful to me as a Jewish reader. This is a Chanukah romance that centers two gentile characters. I was honestly shocked that anyone thought that was okay. It’s such intense and hurtful erasure, particularly as Chanukah as a holiday is about resisting erasure, anti-semitism and forced conversion.

Not only that, but we witness two gentile characters make fun of the only Jewish character for wanting to eat latkes several nights in a row on Chanukah…in a Chanukah romance with Latkes in the title. And this is the only reference to latkes in the book! More time is spent playing video games, on the job hunt, and on childbirth than on celebrating the holiday. These choices are full of erasure and disrespect, and were hurtful to me as a Jewish reader.

Holiday romances are one of the more predictable subgenres in romance, and the cornerstone of them is the celebration of the holiday, with lot of details, and the characters spending time experiencing the holiday. And for Chanukah romances, part of the expectation is that it will be a story with at least one Jewish MC and a particular attention to both cultural and religious aspects of the celebration (at whatever level of observance is appropriate for the characters).

This may be one of the hugest bait & switch romance reading experiences I’ve had. This is literally THE OPPOSITE of the book I expected.

Representation

  • Trans woman love interest
  • Jewish queer trans man secondary character who is pregnant
  • Queer man secondary character

Content Warnings (in white, highlight to read)

Car accident. Fat antagonism. Jewish erasure built into the premise of the story. Chanukah romance between two gentile MCs. Gentiles make fun of the Jewish character for wanting to eat latkes several nights in a row on Chanukah. Allocishet man gets lots of sympathy from queer and trans characters for getting targeted by bi antagonism around his inclusive game design. Sex on the page.

Disclosures

  • Source of the book: I bought this book myself.
  • I have had no contact with the author.

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