A sexy and all-too-real romantic comedy, The Marriage Game by Sara Desai will have you believing in love and romance, laughing until you cry, and leave you hungry for Indian food.
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.
Gosh, I adored this book — and a lot of that love has to do with these characters. Sam and Layla are such wonderfully realistic, flawed, and funny creatures. But so too are the supporting characters that flesh out their story, most notably perhaps being Layla’s boisterous family members. The combination is so rich and inviting, it’s hard not to be instantly charmed by this cast of characters and sucked into their world. (Their world is also filled with the most drool-worthy descriptions of the Indian food Layla’s family serves; I was basically starving the entire time I read this book.)
Despite their initial (& somewhat on-going) conflict, an absolutely wonderful friendship forms between Sam and Layla — and as you may predict (this being a romance and all), friendship soon turns to something more. I loved seeing how these growing emotions played out for each of them, set against the backdrop of their “game” to find Layla a husband from her father’s matchmaking list, alongside Sam’s own personal vendetta to right a past wrong against his family.
One of the real scene-stealing moments of this book for me involves a bathroom tryst and some shapewear. All-too-often when reading romance, I sort of roll my eyes at the convenience of the heroine wearing cute, lacy panties — or even a matching bra and panty set. The Marriage Game had already charmed me when the characters’ first encounter included the heroine notably wearing her ratty, pilling cotton undies. Then this bathroom scene and a wildly hilarious and accurate description of shapewear, and the utterly unsexy methods of removing it had me dying of laughter.
“Do I cut you out of it?”
“Nothing so drastic … It kind of … rolls.”
“There’s no sexy way to get this off me, so if you’re imagining some kind of striptease where I slowly peel it off, revealing my body inch by inch, just tuck that image away and replace it with opening a can of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls.”
I realize I’m mildly obsessing over just one scene out of an entire book, but rarely has a single scene in a romance left such a remarkable impression on me for being both sexy, steamy, and riotously realistic. This is also a remarkably good example of the kind of wit, sarcasm, and humor you can expect throughout the book. Not to mention the refreshingly frank and humorous banter between Sam and Layla, which is part of what makes their relationship so realistic and relatable to me.
A refreshing and laugh-out-loud worthy, sexy romance that will brighten your day, The Marriage Game is available now.