A dark green background with white filigree patterns featuring pink cameos of a boy and two girls and cooking utensil details.

About the Book

Title: My Fine Fellow
Published: 2022
Swoonworthy Scale: 4

Cover Story: Dig On In
BFF Charm: Mixed Bag
Talky Talk: Muddled
Bonus Factors: Tasty Business, Retellings, Alternate Histories
Relationship Status: Polite Dinner Companion

Cover Story: Dig On In

The little corner embellishments featuring the cutlery and the whisks around the edging? I MEAN. Brava, this is fun! Bonus: it’s not a cartoony cover and correctly gives off the “historical but make it fun” vibes, so I’ll take it and will not complain.

The Deal:

Helena and Penelope are in their final term at the Royal Academy for Culinarians, where they plan on graduating with top honors—if they can get through their senior projects. After meeting Elijah, a street hawker selling amazing empanadas, Helena agrees to train Elijah in the art of cooking and gentlemanly comportment in exchange for using their lessons as her senior thesis. Elijah grins and bears Helena’s boorish and brisque methods, but Penelope’s non-judgmental sweetness is a soothing balm for Helena’s stings.

Is it possible to pass a street urchin off as a gentleman cook in a cooking competition for the princess herself? (If you thought this sounded like a gender-bent My Fair Lady, you’d be correct!)

BFF Charm: Mixed Bag

Brown paper bag filled with various BFF charms

Elijah seems like he could have a good time, and I’d love a rich friend like Helena who could bankroll all of our activities, but I would’ve shut her shit down way sooner than Penelope, who was sweet but such a doormat for so long. Do I want to join them at the end of the book? Yes, but more so just because what they’re doing sounds fantastic than because I couldn’t live without their company.

Swoonworthy Scale: 4

LORDY. Penelope and Elijah are big fat dunces when it comes to love. So much eye-rolling to be had. The author employs a trope I greatly dislike: the “I love you but won’t tell you so because I think being with me isn’t in your best interest, and I don’t respect your decision-making skills enough to let you make your own choices and know what you need to be happy.”

Talky Talk: Muddled

I loved My Fair Lady the movie when I was little. Some of the songs are still fantastic. But when I put it on recently after years between rewatches—wowee. I retained the major plot points, but perhaps I just have way less tolerance for Henry Higgins’ bullshit now. And why did Eliza’s drunken asshole of a father get so many “isn’t he so fun and loveable” songs and screen time?! He thought he SOLD her, for Christ’s sake. (It felt very leftover from stage play’s of the time when some venerable, loveable older actor made this side role “a big deal” by simply being there.) Luckily there was no such character in this book.

ANYWAY, all that to say, I still enjoy the general themes of the story (and “Without You” still slaps) but I was eager to see a gender-bent take where the author wasn’t going to make apologies for Higgins’ behavior. And as far as that part went, I think Cohen succeeded. But, ultimately, aside from a cooking competition where the stakes never felt that dire, not much actually happened. I recognized pivotal plot beats because it was a retelling, but it never felt like they were completely executed in a way that made me utterly delighted to be reading.

I could’ve used more personality depth to the characters themselves alongside the surface-level additions like making Elijah Jewish and Penelope half-Filipino. Yes, it gave them more external factors to react to as they dealt with some prejudiced restrictions of the time, but they were both…sorta boring. It may work for a 2.5 hour play, but I wanted more.

Bonus Factor: Tasty Business

Multiple plates of food on a nice table in a fancy dining room

This is, like, seriously FANCY tasty business, y’all. Penelope and Helena are in training to be the most elite chefs in the country, and Elijah is getting ready to compete in a cook-off for the royal family—so you can imagine that me, with a laymen’s palate, could juuuust about follow along in picturing these meals thanks only to heavy doses of Top Chef as a teen.

Allow your taste buds to picture:

Next he’d created a Lapsang souchong tea–smoked pigeon breast with a tamarind sauce in a flaky, herbed pastry cup (a refined version of one of his pasties), and for dessert, a chili and cinnamon–infused chocolate bon bon filled with a horchata liquid caramel.

Bonus Factor: Retellings

Cher in Clueless, sitting at her desk and holding a pen while she stares dreamily into the distance

It’s obvious (plus she said so in her author’s note) that Cohen is a major musical fan and clearly adores the source material, so I was enjoying the big and subtle nods to the movie (I would’ve loved to have been able to compare to the play as I was supposed to see it last year, but—COVID).

Bonus Factor: Alternate Histories

President Truman holding a newspaper incorrectly declaring Dewey as the winner of the 1948 election

I thought it was very cool to see how Cohen mixed in real world British history—I’d never heard of Princess Charlotte, the British heir apparent who died during childbirth and is literally the reason Queen Victoria was born (so they could keep the crown within the family)—with some AU elements of her own to make this 1800s setting a little more feminist and whimsical, but also didn’t shy away from pretending racial and religious prejudices would’ve magically disappeared.

Relationship Status: Polite Dinner Companion

You kept me entertained with your anecdotes, Book, so thanks for being a good dinner partner at our fancy English shin-dig. I would’ve totally picked up the wrong fork if you hadn’t corrected me. Enjoy your cigars in the parlor while I toddle off to have a food coma.

Literary Matchmaking


Dodger by Terry Pratchett sounds like it could’ve been Elijah’s story if he hadn’t bumped into Helena and Penelope.

The Dark Days Club (Lady Helen #1)

Alison Goodman’s The Dark Days Club is a similar historical London setting with even whackier AU magical elements.

The Other Bennet Sister

Janice Hadlow also couldn’t let go of a famous story and did her own interpretation of beloved characters in The Other Bennet Sister.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from HarperTeen. I received neither money nor peanut butter cups in exchange for this review. My Fine Fellow is available now.

Stephanie (she/her) is an avid reader who moonlights at a college and calls Orlando home. Stephanie loves watching television, reading DIY blogs, planning awesome parties, Halloween decorating, and playing live-action escape games.