The Marriage Game || Desi rivals-to-lovers <3

Title: The Marriage Game
Author: Sara Desai
Genre: Romance
Category: Adult
Series info: Standalone

Goodreads | Storygraph

I have no idea how I came across this book. Probably on Instagram or in a recommendations blog post by someone, but I’m sure I put it in my TBR because it has Indian main characters.

After it being in my TBR for a long time, I finally picked it up because I was in the mood for some romance and desi romance sounded really good. It was a great decision to pick this up.

The Plot

Layla Patel returns home after a disastrous relationship that made her go viral online. In order to heal and pick herself back up, she’s back to get some support from her awesome family and work on starting her own recruitment agency. The perfect place for her office would be the floor above her family’s restaurant, which her father owns.

The issue? Her father just sublet it to Sam Mehta who runs a corporate downsizing agency. Before it can get cleared up, Layla’s father has a heart attack and is unconscious in the hospital.

Sam and Layla both need the office and have nowhere else to go. In a fight to claim the office, they make a wager on Layla finding her future husband on the dates previously setup by her dad. If she finds someone, Sam gets the office. Else, Layla does.

But when sparks fly and they start getting to know each other, the office is the last of their concerns.

My Review

I completely ADORED this book.

  • The main characters were very charming.

The book is written in dual points of view and hence we get to truly understand both Sam and Layla. And they were fantastic characters to follow.

Layla Patel is loud, passionate, and driven. After her viral moment, none of the recruitment agencies want to hire her and instead of becoming sad, she decides to pursue her dream and start her own recruitment agency. She has a huge family whom she loves, enjoys all kinds of foods, and is sure of herself.

I eat when I’m stressed.

Layla Patel.

Sam Mehta wanted to be a doctor but because of a tragedy that befell his sister, he switched career paths with one goal: to avenge his sister. Sam is very organized, curt, and does not want to get entangled with people and emotions. But he is also a very concerned brother and is a sweet-heart under the shield.

  • Complexities of desi upbringings and expectations.

This romance book is also quite good as a book club pick. The author has generously included questions for book clubs at the end. One question talks about how the Indian stereotypical upbringing affects boys and girls.

In this book, we see it in both characters. Layla’s brother was overachieving and perfect. She can never be of that level, but she was also never expected to because she’s a girl.

On the other hand, Sam takes on all responsibility for whatever happens with his sister because he is the son and the brother. He has to do well and provide for the family but his main responsibility is to protect his sister. When he couldn’t protect her, it broke him.

These things were brought out quite well in the book.

  • All. The. Desi. Feels.

First of all, THE FOOD. Layla’s parents run a Michelin star Indian restaurant so of course food is a huge part of this book. While reading the descriptions, my mouth was watering and the fact that there’s a pandemic going on does not help.

There were talks of all foods—dosas, sweets, donuts—and I was so jealous because we’re stuck at home and we’re not ordering anything as well. Oof.

Another thing that is very integral to Indians is extended family. The book shows how relatives take care of each other and pick up any slack without expecting something specific in return. You can always count on relatives to be there for you, express their love loudly, share gossip and food.

“Doctor?” someone shrieked. “He’s a doctor!”

Desi aunties who are about to marry off their daughters.
  • The romance was VERY entertaining.

This is a rivals-to-lovers romance story and boy, was it AWESOME.

Layla and Sam butt heads right from the start. Their banter had me cracking up loud, their antics got me giggling, and their relationship-growth was swoon-worthy.

Because of the wager where Layla goes on dates with men handpicked by her father through an arranged marriage website, Sam has to be present as the male chaperone. While on the dates, Layla and Sam get to know each other a lot instead of the dates themselves which throws even more sparks between them.

“Do you know the song ‘Dard-e-Disco’from Om Shanti Om?”
“Am I brown?”

Layla and Sam.

I absolutely loved their relationship and banter.


If you’re looking for a romantic comedy to entertain you, this is it.

It’s charming, light-hearted, funny, and addicting.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

4/5 stars.

21 thoughts on “The Marriage Game || Desi rivals-to-lovers <3”

  1. I’ve heard amazing things about this! Glad to know it lives up to expectations. Enemies to lovers you say – I’m sold haha. Plus…the cover is beyond stunning ❤

    Liked by 3 people

  2. This sounds like such a great read! It feels like it could immerse you in the Indian culture even if you’re not familiar with it. And anything that has food in it definitely grabs my attention! 😅

    Liked by 3 people

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