The Singles Table (Marriage Game #3) by Sara Desai November 16, 2021 by Berkley Contemporary Romance Reviewed by Kate
The Singles Table, the third book in Sara Desai’s Marriage Game series, is charming and fun, but a bit slow to get started. Jay and Zara meet at a co-ed paintball bachelor party where they have an immediate dislike for each other based on their paintball technique. Jay runs a security firm and Zara is a lawyer who loves to matchmake during the wedding season. When Zara learns that Jay is looking for somebody to date to placate his mother, she trades her matchmaking services for some introductions to celebrities that Jay meets through his job. And unless you’ve never read a romance novel, I’m sure you can guess how it progresses from there.
When we first meet them, Jay and Zara seem to embody the grumpy/sunshine tropes, but as the book progresses we see that there is more to each of them than just their superficial first impressions. Jay and Zara have very enemies to lovers energy, and their chemistry sparks on the page. I loved their dialogue and getting to watch them learn about each other over the course of the book. I especially liked Zara – she’s out there living her best life, having fun, and she’s also smart and practical. The scene of her in the courtroom didn’t quite feel like it could happen in real life, but it still made Zara seem like an amazingly clever lawyer, and I love it when we get to see romance heroines being awesome at their jobs.
My main complaint about The Singles Table is that I felt the main story was a little slow to get started. The best parts of the book are when Jay and Zara are together, obviously, and it felt (to me) like it took a while for them to get back on the page together after the first meeting. This could also be attributed to me being in a bit of a reading slump when I started this book, so take this with a grain of salt, I suppose. Additionally, I felt there were some sections with a level of detail that wasn’t really necessary for the story. For example, Jay is raising funding for his company to expand internationally, and that felt like it took up too much page time (especially involving the banker’s daughter who I felt was totally unnecessary).
But overall, I think after a bit of a rocky start, the book really does a good job of pulling it together and convincing the reader that Jay and Zara are perfect for each other. Both Jay and Zara have “a-ha” moments where they realize they need to work on something about themselves (for Zara, it was her fear of love, and for Jay, it was for his mental health) and then they actually take steps to address their issues.
I’ve read all three books in this series, and I definitely think you can go into The Singles Table even if you haven’t read either of the first two books. I’ll be honest and say I only noticed a few character overlaps, and whether that’s because of my bad memory (possible) or because The Singles Table doesn’t rely on events in the previous books, I believe it would be easy to read as a standalone.
The Singles Table is a solid installment in the Marriage Game series, a very enjoyable read that’s both funny and sincere, with great dialogue and characters.
Content notes: Jay has PTSD from his time in the military. His mother previously had cancer which is mentioned a few times. During the events of the book his mother gets in a car accident and is in the hospital.