• Book cover image

Love Cake

Four years ago, Bryan Hicks left behind a lucrative corporate job to open a bakery with his trans girlfriend, Nadia Brooks.

In conservative Houston, Texas, they had to sue a transphobic landlord just to lease a space. Even so, the shop was

humming along until the Covid-19 pandemic slowed their business to a trickle. Cash-strapped and desperate, Bryan turns

to an unsavory character for a loan; when he's unable to pay it back, he's forced to rent out the bakery to an illegal trans

strip show to make some extra cash. The dancers and customers trash the place, and one night it gets so rowdy Bryan

fires a gun just to clear the store. How did his dream become such a nightmare? The novel moves back in time to tell the

history of the bakery, from the first "love cake" Bryan made for Nadia to Nadia's Hail Mary effort to win cash in a TV baking

competition. All the while, Bryan strives to be a supportive father to his queer son and his increasingly right-wing daughter.

Can Bryan save his bakery and his relationship with Nadia, or is he about to lose his love and livelihood in one fell swoop?

Bell's workmanlike prose captures both the tranquil atmosphere of the bakery and the wild energy of the trans party scene,

as here, when Bryan and Nadia visit a strip club: "Now that they were inside, Nadia looked overwhelmed, standing very

stiff. She looked scared to touch anything. Bryan grabbed her and led her through the mesh of bodies to the middle bar.

He handed Nadia a beer, and they both turned around to check out the raw scene."

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