The Name of the Game by Jennifer Dawson

The “enemies to lovers” trope is so good when it’s done right. In this case, I think Jennifer Dawson not only does the trope right, but she gets some of the more genuine aspects of the couple’s relationship right as well.

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I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One-Sentence Synopsis
A baker and a professor used to fighting with and insulting each other start to realize that beneath the animosity, there’s a mutual attraction…even if they know they’re wrong for each other. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

The Good Stuff
I enjoyed the fact that the story highlighted the different ways men and women communicate and played on the cliche that they don’t understand each other. While miscommunication in a book can be annoying if not handled well, I could relate to it in the context of this story and completely understood the thought processes behind it.

I liked the change in dynamic between Gracie and her friends who are newly in relationships. Once her best friends are in committed relationships, Gracie gets jealous, as she’s the single one who doesn’t have that in common with the attached ones. I think it’s a situation most women can relate to, so it feels real, and the reader doesn’t have to stretch the imagination to empathize.

bridesmaids

There is a subtle submissive/dominant vibe through the story, and when it culminates, there is a lot of emotion that goes with it. I’ve read books that had this dynamic, and the emotion is either downplayed or doesn’t feel genuine. I loved that this felt real, that the repercussions of an encounter had both sexual and emotional effects that the author explored through James and Gracie.

Also, a nerdy hero who convinces the heroine to watch Doctor Who? Winning!

Things That Made Me Go Hmmm
There’s a part where Gracie says that James has always used a condom. But previous to that, there was a scene in which I noticed he didn’t. I guess the condom use doesn’t have to be stated implicitly, but because it usually is, I sort of expect it. And the scene in question was detailed and intense, so unless he wrapped it earlier, I’m not even sure when he had the chance.

nope

The Romance Factor
Even though the characters are trying to convince themselves that they’d never work together, the things they do for each other are sweet. While it starts out as sex, it evolves into much more, and the progression was well paced, angsty, and gave me some of those awww moments I love so much. 4/5

The Steam Factor
The sexy times are hot and frequent, but my favorite part was that role play was introduced in a way that made it feel natural and normal. Also, the roleplay scenes were so fun, especially the cheerleader/horror movie one, which had a sweet element to it as well. 5/5

Final Thoughts
At the beginning of the book, I thought there was potential for it to drag on, especially because the first quarter of the book is really a lot of James and Gracie looking at each other from across various rooms. But those scenes really just built the anticipation until they finally got their groove on, and the story moved well and felt real. I have to go back and read the first two books in this series, but I’m  already looking forward to the next in this series.

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