Author: Sara Desai
Narrator: Soneela Nankani
Audiobook Length: 11 hours 39 minutes
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.
The Marriage Game is the first novel in a series of the same name that finds the main character Desi Layla Patel returning to San Francisco after a horrible break-up in her previous home of New York City. This series came on my radar with the third novel, The Singles Tables. Originally, I thought that novel was a standalone, so when I found it was part of a series, I decided to begin with the first novel and experience them in order. Layla was a fun character as she was building herself back up and starting again while maintaining her smart and sassy personality. The other main character is Desi-American Sam Mehta, a former doctor turned consultant who is going through his own personal struggles while maintaining his business.
Her father has an office above the family’s restaurant that he lets Layla use as she wants to start her own business, however, he has already rented it to another and is unable to remedy this after having a heart attack. The other tenant happens to be Sam, who refuses to back down as this is the prime location for his business. This creates an interesting start for them as enemies where they each are trying to conduct their own business in a single office space, which means a nice rivalry forms. In this time, Layla also learns that her father has been gathering suitors for her to marry and has a list narrowed down to the top ten. This is turned into a game (the Marriage Game) where Layla and Sam make a deal that if Layla marries someone from the list, then she will leave the office. As Layla need a chaperone for her dates, Sam agrees to chaperone.
As Sam has a lot of guilt from setting up his sister with her ex-husband, a prominent surgeon. After a possible altercation, which the ex-husband denies, his sister ends up in a wheelchair, but Sam is determined to prove the ex-husband was the cause. His quest to avenge his sister consumes him at the beginning of the novel, so it was nice to see him soften a little over the course of the story even though he will never be ready to give up. It was fun to see him open more as a character, especially when he went on Layla’s dates. The set-ups did seem like caricatures at time as some of them were a little over-the-top but based on all the stories about dating in the real world, they weren’t that far-fetched.
Overall, I loved the culture integrated into the story. Since I am not from that background, it was great to experience it through the eyes of each character. The story has the characters attracted to each other early on, but I loved their actual relationship grew over time. Sam did objectify Layla a bit much for my taste, but it did not fully take away from my enjoyment of the story. The chemistry and banter Sam and Layla share were very well-done in this story and I loved how they challenged the other. Not only do the characters grow as a couple, they grow as individuals. This was a very fun introduction to the series and I cannot wait to read Daisy’s story next in The Dating Plan.