Review copy was received from Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Singles Table by Sara Desai
Narrator: Soneela Nankani
Series: Marriage Game #3
Published by Penguin Audio on November 16, 2021
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Length: 10 hours, 44 minutes
Amazon, Audible, Audiobook, Barnes & Noble, Apple
After a devastating break-up, celebrity-obsessed lawyer Zara Patel is determined never to open her heart again. She puts her energy into building her career and helping her friends find romance through the wedding season. She's never faced a guest at the singles table she couldn’t match, until she crosses paths with the sinfully sexy Jay Dayal.
Former military security specialist Jay has no time for love. His life is about working hard, staying focused, and winning at all costs. When charismatic Zara crashes into his life, he's thrown into close contact with exactly the kind of chaos he wants to avoid. Worse, they're stuck together for the entire wedding season.
So they make a deal. She'll find his special someone if he introduces her to his celebrity clients. But when their arrangement brings them together in ways they never expected, they realize that the perfect match might just be their own
Somehow I thought I’d be reading a fake dating trope. The Singles Table is not really that. It does feature two people who have decided for various reasons not to date or have any kind of relationship until they crash into each other’s lives. Really, Zara crashes into Jay’s life unapologetically, with her energy and passion for life. They are both workaholics but very different in style.
Their families were interesting and certainly added to the layers of story. Their friends and coworkers were even more interesting and some of them made me laugh! The humor definitely added to the fun, as did the sexy times.
As they are caught up in the wedding season of their culture, they get to know each other at the singles table, until they connect and graduate to the couples table. The time the spend getting to know each other is endearing. Each has some great qualities, with both Jay and Zara protective and caring of their family. Even if each believes somehow they won’t be loved. So they refuse to love, because they might get hurt. I fell in love with both of them and they were going to get an HEA, dammit!
I thought everything was going along well until near the end when, of course, things blew up. Luckily, while it was agony, it resolved as quickly as possible. I cried when Zara figured out how to go forward. I highly recommend this heartfelt story.
I have enjoyed this narrator previously on another series. She does a wonderful performance with great emotional tonality. I did listen at a slightly slower 1.25x speed.
Listen to a clip: HERE
“So what kind of woman are you looking for? Let me guess. Professional. Sophisticated. Classy. Intelligent. Basically, Lucia but younger, or do you like a little Mrs. Robinson between the sheets?” She took another bite of her hot dog. Was there any better food?
“My relationship with Lucia is strictly professional,” Jay said. “But yes, I’d be interested in someone similar.”
“So, you want a mini-me,” she teased. “I mean a mini-you. Not me. Obviously. Lucia is pretty much the opposite of me, which is another reason I knew that job wouldn’t work out.”
“You have ketchup on your cheek.” He took a napkin and gently dabbed it at the corner of her mouth.
Desire flooded her veins followed by a wave of desolation. She could easily fall for a man like Jay. Smart, handsome, ambitious, successful, and yet she sensed a longing in him, a secret Jay waiting to be free.
“Is it gone?” Her voice came out in a whisper.
He leaned in and studied her with a serious intensity that took her breath away. He was so close she could see the gentle dip in his chin, the dark stubble of his five-o’clock shadow even though it couldn’t be much past four o’clock. His lips were firm and soft, his mouth the perfect size for kissing. She drew in his scent: pine and mountains and the rich, earthy scent of the soil she’d turned in the garden when her family was whole and she never had to wonder whose house she was in when she woke up in the morning.
But this wasn’t the time to be thinking about being held in Jay’s strong arms or what it would be like to kiss him, or how just being near him calmed all the wayward thoughts in her head. She was supposed to be concentrating on finding him a match and where she should get autographed when he made the promised celebrity introduction.
“We should go.” She jumped up so abruptly her half-eaten hot dog fell to the grass. “I have to get back to the office, and I don’t want to exceed your two-hour-and-forty-five-minute time limit.”
Jay picked up the hot dog and carried it to the nearest bin. “When do you want to meet again?”
His question sent a curious thrill rocketing through her veins. She hadn’t put him off with her rambling, or her quest for the perfect hot dog, or even the uncomfortable questions she’d asked as they lounged in the sun. She couldn’t have been more excited if he’d asked her on second date. Except he wasn’t really interested in her that way, and she needed to keep that in mind. The last thing she wanted was to get into a Cyrano situation where she would be forced to help someone else win the heart of the man she loved. She made a mental note to rewatch the 1973 Broadway version of the play with its soaring ballads and rousing word- and swordplay as a reminder of the heartbreak that could result.
She pulled out her phone and pretended to study the screen to stop herself from saying something stupid like how about tonight? “Hmmm. I have a big settlement meeting on Friday so the rest of my week is shot. I’ll have to let you know.”
If he noticed her cool dismissal, he didn’t react. Instead, he said the one thing that would ensure she wouldn’t be able to sleep until she saw him again. “I’ll be waiting.”
I received a finished print copy from the publisher and I am giving that away to you, brand new. US mailing address only.
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