The Marriage Game by Sara Desai

The Marriage Game by Sara Desai
Pub. Date: June 9, 2020
Source: e-ARC via publisher (Thank you, Berkley!)
Summary: 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.
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Layla Patel returns to her family’s home, tail between her legs. Not only did she walk in one her boyfriend with two ladies, but her reaction made its way to the Internet. As if that wasn’t enough of a gut-punch, she was fired. With no job and nowhere to stay, Layla went back to her parents’ arms – and their restaurant. Determined to make a fresh start, Layla decides to go into business for herself, putting her recruitment consultant know-how to good use. Unbeknownst to Layla however, her father uploads her marriage resume to an online dating site, hoping to find his daughter a husband.

Not much frightens Sam Mehta. After all, when you’re the CEO of a corporate downsizing company, thick skin and a no-nonsense attitude are a must. When he finds an available office for rent above an Indian restaurant, it seems perfect. Unfortunately a miscommunication results in his new landlord’s daughter also moving on in to the space. Once potential suitors begin responding to Layla’s profile, Sam realizes this is a win-win: he’ll play the dutiful chaperone and help Layla find a husband. No more yapping dog in the office, no more hideous furniture, no more Layla.

It’s no wonder Sam does MMA with his buddies at 5am every day. If my sole job was to tell people they were fired I’d want to be able to throw a punch or two too. Sam has an ulterior motive, however. His latest contract could be huge…and give him the revenge he’s been seeking. His younger sister had been married to a doctor – Sam’s mentor. Not long into the marriage Nisha was found at the bottom of a flight of stairs (with no memories other than the belief it was her husband who pushed her). Now bound to a wheelchair, Nisha’s a shell of her former self and Sam’s awash with guilt. He walked away from a promising career in medicine; if he couldn’t save his own sister, how could he possibly be expected to save others? Now, however, it looks as though the hospital is in seriously need of downsizing…and Sam knows who’s first on the chopping block.

I don’t have much more to say other than The Marriage Game was so fun. The food! The Bollywood references! The disastrous dates! I was here for every single moment and would 100% watch this as a movie. Sam and Layla had amazing chemistry and their banter was excellent (to the point where I read their solo scenes a bit faster because I wanted to get back to them together in the office, together interrogating a CIA spy or bodybuilder).

There’s a cast chock-full of POC characters and I really can only think of one or two white characters – and they were relegated to the background. If there’s one tiny disappointment I had with The Marriage Game, it’s that there was a secondary romance involved that seemed like it was being set up for a potential sequel. Everything seemed to wrap up with that here, but I would still love to revisit these characters!

With its pages bursting with characters and food and the best banter scenes, The Marriage Game had me tearing through it. This was such a fun read – the only downside was my stomach was growling the entire time!

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