Dale Yu: Book Review – She’s Got Game by Laura Heffernan

She’s Got Game

  • Author: Laura Heffernan
  • Publisher: Lyrical Press (2019)
  • Book “purchased” from Amazon.com – via Kindle Unlimited – https://amzn.to/2PuA1BT

Yeah, this isn’t the sort of thing we normally review here, but it involves boardgames, and we’ve been on sort of a book review kick here this year…

So… Reading romance novels is an occasional occurrence here – and something that most people don’t know about me. Well, actually, it’s just reading in general.  Per Goodreads, I have averaged about 120-130 books per year over the past 5 years – and I do try to make a habit of setting aside half an hour a day to get a chance to escape into a book and simply turn my brain off.  I have a Kindle at home and a beloved Kobo Aura that both get a LOT of use.  As I use the Kindle as a way to escape, my books are almost exclusively fiction – young adult, dystopian, cozy mystery, sci-fi, and even the occasional chick lit/romance novel (usually suggested to me by my wife… and easy to obtain via our shared Amazon library).

Anyways, I was in the midst of catching up on the newest entries to the Enderverse (by Orson Scott Card, who happens to be a gamer himself), when one of my friends sent me this text message + pic – “Hey, you gotta read this book, it has your game in it!”

(In case you didn’t know, I was one of the developers of Dominion, which this non-gaming friend had managed to remember!)

Anyways, that hook was enough to make me look it up on Amazon, and when it showed up as a free book on Kindle Unlimited – I figured I’d give it a whirl.  From the description on the Amazon page:

Travel blogger Gwen Williams is about to live the dream—competing in the annual American Board Game Championship. She’s up against some stiff competition, namely legendary gamer and four-time champ Cody McKay. The seriously buff hottie and shameless flirt is going all-out to seduce her. That’s when Gwen lays her cards on the table: She never, ever mixes gaming with romance . . . until resisting Cody becomes a losing proposition.

As Gwen gives in to temptation, everything’s in play for a major heartache. With the rounds heating up and players eliminated, she knows she’s gambling a lot more than a seat at the final table in Vegas. But Cody’s kisses promise more than a fleeting romance. If she plays her cards right, Gwen just might walk off with the championship and the man of her dreams.

Yeah, sounds like a typical chick lit/romance synopsis.  And, yes, it holds true to form.  The story arc is based around the different rounds of the championship tournament for Explorers of Islay, a game which sounds suspiciously identical to Catan.  I don’t know for sure if the author is a gamer herself, but her biography does include this tidbit: “Laura Heffernan once broke up with her now-husband during a board game after realizing that he was ahead 96-3. She hasn’t played that particular game since. Her best friend still talks about the Great Uno Card Throwing Incident of 2003. Yet, somehow, Laura insists that she is incredibly gracious whether winning or losing.”

In any event, as the tournament progresses – the usual chick lit tropes abound.  Girl meets guy. Girl doesn’t want guy. Girl wants guy. Girl doesn’t want guy. Girl wants guy.  Girl and guy get together. Girl and Guy fight. Girl and guy make up. Etc. etc. somehow always ending with a HEA.   At least it’s a mild romance novel, so there’s no graphic encounters to ruffle your fragile sensibilities.

So, yes, as you’d expect, the story is mostly predictable, but that’s what I’ve come to find is true of the whole genre.  But, the story is told well, and I found myself inevitably wanting to continue reading to see how this would unfold, eventhough I was pretty sure about 1/3 of the way in as to what would happen.  I will admit to having my moments where I thought about putting the book down as the main character’s personality was quite annoying at times – but again, not unlike many other chick lit characters I have encountered in the past.  But, in the end, I pushed on because I had to know who was going to win the tournament…

Part of the book is set in Boston – well, actually Cambridge, as the protagonist apparently graduated from Harvard, and there is some mention of a game store there.  Not sure if it’s a reference to The Games People Play, but it definitely doesn’t sound like Pandemonium (though they do still have weekly Wednesday night gaming, I think).  But, it was fun trying to figure that out for a bit.  It was also mentally humorous to see if the “seriously buff hottie and shameless flirt” male character was based on any of my IRL Boston gamer friends, such as Dan Blum or maybe Eric Brosius…

This book turned out to be the first of a series; there appear to be two more thus far.  It’s not my usual sort of book, but enjoyable enough for the two and a half hours it took me to read it, when I thought about relationships and board game tournaments rather than impeachments, whether or not Swedish teenagers ride in first class or on the floor of a Deutsche Bahn train, or guessing how Australians can possibly survive in 50C weather.

If you are looking for a book to read, given that you’re reading this blog, you’re probably interested in boardgames, and this might catch your eye too.   It’s not the best example of the genre if you’re new to it, but the theme carries it a long way in my opinion and might be enough to make you give it a try.  The $0.00 price if you’re a Kindle Unlimited user also is an enticement.

Until your next appointment,

The Gaming Doctor

p.s. as always, the Amazon links here are affiliate links and our blog could make a commission off of a book purchase, but if you use Kindle Unlimited… 0% of $0.00 is 0. :)

About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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3 Responses to Dale Yu: Book Review – She’s Got Game by Laura Heffernan

  1. Pingback: Dale Yu: Book Review – She’s Got Game by Laura Heffernan - Rollandtroll.com

  2. Pingback: Dale Yu: Book Review – She’s Got Game by Laura Heffernan – Herman Watts

  3. Thank you so much for reading!

    There may or may not be a game of Strip Dominion in Against the Rules. Dominion was my gateway game, and still one of my favorites. Thanks for making such a great game.

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