cover image The Marriage Game

The Marriage Game

Sara Desai. Berkley, $16 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-593-10056-1

Desai’s delightful debut is a playful take on enemies-to-lovers and arranged marriage tropes starring two headstrong Desi-American protagonists. Layla Patel returns home to San Francisco from New York City after losing her job, her boyfriend, and her self-respect. Her father, determined to fix her life, offers her the office space above his restaurant (which he neglects to tell Sam Mehta, the current tenant), and makes her a profile on an Indian dating site (which he neglects to tell Layla). Sam refuses to vacate the office space, but Layla sets up shop there anyway. The pair instantly clash, but when suitors from the dating website show up at the office hoping to woo Layla, Sam feels oddly protective. They strike a bet: if Layla finds a husband among the blind dates her father set up, she has to surrender the office to Sam, if she doesn’t, then Sam must leave the office. As part of their deal, Sam will chaperone her dates to protect her from the judgement of her hypertraditional suitors. It’s a blast to witness Sam and Layla exchange flirtatious barbs as their snarky chemistry blossoms into something real over the course of Layla’s hilariously disastrous dates. Rom-com fans should take note of this fresh, fun offering. Agent: Laura Bradford, Bradford Literary. (June)