Review: The Marriage Game by Sara Desai

Review: The Marriage Game by Sara DesaiThe Marriage Game by Sara Desai
Format: eARC
Source: supplied by publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: Chick Lit, contemporary romance, women's fiction
Pages: 352
Published by Berkley on June 9, 2020
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes &

A high stakes wager pits an aspiring entrepreneur against a ruthless CEO in this sexy romantic comedy.

After her life falls apart, recruitment consultant Layla Patel returns home to her family in San Francisco. But in the eyes of her father, who runs a Michelin starred restaurant, she can do no wrong. He would do anything to see her smile again. With the best intentions in mind, he offers her the office upstairs to start her new business and creates a profile on an online dating site to find her a man. She doesn’t know he’s arranged a series of blind dates until the first one comes knocking on her door…

As CEO of a corporate downsizing company Sam Mehta is more used to conflict than calm. In search of a quiet new office, he finds the perfect space above a cozy Indian restaurant that smells like home. But when communication goes awry, he's forced to share his space with the owner's beautiful yet infuriating daughter Layla, her crazy family, and a parade of hopeful suitors, all of whom threaten to disrupt his carefully ordered life.

As they face off in close quarters, the sarcasm and sparks fly. But when the battle for the office becomes a battle of the heart, Sam and Layla have to decide if this is love or just a game.

My Review:

To kick this off, just let me say that if you like Sonali Dev and Nisha Sharma you’re going to love Sara Desai, and very much vice versa – all the way around.

I had The Marriage Game in the virtually towering TBR pile but managed to lose track of having signed up for this blog tour. The reminder came just in time and I am SO GLAD it did.

Because this was lovely and awesome with just the right amount of fluff overlaying just the best amount of serious to make this both a terrific summer read and an absolutely wonderful book for getting my reading mojo back and taking me away from all the crap going on in the world.

Mental breaks are good for the soul.

And that’s kind of where this story begins, because Layla Patel definitely comes home to her parents’ and their Michelin-starred restaurant in need of some family TLC, a mental break from the mess she left behind in New York City, and a bit more than her vague plans to open her own recruiting agency.

Then it all goes pear-shaped, in some ways even more so than the events that led to her rather abrupt departure from New York City.

Her father has a heart-attack. Her parents’ restaurant is in financial trouble. And the office that her father planned to let her occupy rent-free to get her business started is already occupied – by the most uptight, order-driven, stick-up-his-ass but gorgeous man that Layla has ever met.

Not that Sam Mehta isn’t having a similar set of thoughts about Layla. She is chaos, she’s a trouble-magnet, she’s free-thinking and free-wheeling, she’s disorganized and unprofessional and utterly captivating.

They are complete opposites. And they get along like kerosene and matches – absolutely combustible every two-steps-forward and one-step-back of the way.

Escape Rating A: This marvelous piece of contemporary romance is one of those stories that absolutely brims with witty, snarky and frequently panty-melting banter. Well, at least Layla’s panties certainly end up melted on more than one occasion – even the gray granny panties. It’s an opposites-attract/frenemies-to-lovers romance that really pulls out all of the stops on both of those well-loved tropes.

It’s also a story NOT to read if you’re hungry. Layla’s family owns a restaurant, her office is above said restaurant, the food is frequently described in loving detail and it all sounds absolutely delicious. To the point where I’m pretty sure I’ve already decided on exactly where we’re getting takeout from this weekend. But I digress. Slightly. But I also repeat: DO NOT READ WHEN HUNGRY!

There’s also more than a touch of relationship fiction mixed into this romance, as Layla’s family is a big part of the story – as is Sam’s lack of relationship with his.

Although this one begins with Layla pretty much hitting rock bottom, her journey in this story is, while not easy, fairly straightforward. For her it’s about getting out of her own way, stepping out of her late brother’s very long shadow and determining what she wants out of life – then reaching out for it and settling for nothing less.

She’s Buttercup whether Sam is Westley or not, and she just needs to figure out how to save herself from the evil prince – even if that evil prince turns out to be Sam.

Sam actually has the much harder road. He has to forgive himself for something that wasn’t his fault but that he blamed himself for. He’s been running away from that guilt and that grief by telling himself that his current pursuit is vengeance. But he’s made himself a monster in order to catch the monster, and only he can make himself step back from the abyss before it’s too late.

Before he loses Layla.

There is just so much to love about The Marriage Game. Except Sam’s business partner Royce. He’s a real piece of work. But possibly redeemable if the author ever returns to this family. There are plenty more stories here, and I would love to read them all!