Book Review: The Name of the Game by Jennifer Dawson


Title: The Name of the Game (Something New #3)
Author: Jennifer Dawson
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 352 pages
Rating: 4 stars


Some people follow the rules. . .

A professor of forensic anthropology, James Donovan is the reasonable sibling among the passionate, impulsive Donovans. But there’s nothing reasonable about his reaction to baker Gracie Roberts. She’s all wild curls and mouth-watering curves, as deliciously tempting as the sugary treats she’s famous for–and twice as irritating. But before long, James decides that getting a taste of her is one indulgence he can’t pass up. . .

Some people play to win. . .

Independent, smart, and sexy, Gracie’s year-long dry spell has her itching for a man. Responsible, health-obsessed James? Not in a million years! She needs a guy who knows how to let loose! But when James sets out to show her just how satisfying a disciplined man can be when pleasure is at stake, she learns just how sweet–and spicy–he really is.

Have James and Gracie found the recipe for love?



Excellent take on an old tale: The opposites attract trope is a tried and true formula and the professor and the bombshell is something I’ve read plenty of times. Gracie is a small town baker who is in Chicago for her best friend’s engagement festivities and she’s thrown together with James Donovan, the nerdy stuffed shirt Donovan brother. They fight like cats and dogs whenever they’re in the same room together and they are convinced that they know what the other feels about them. It could easily move into familiar territory with James being a stuffed shirt and Gracie being a ditzy blond, but I loved that neither of them fits precisely in their predetermined roles. The fun starts when they stop fighting it and start dealing with their attraction, and getting to know the reasons why each has decided to let the world believe what they want about them.

When I’m reading a familiar tale (and let’s face it, 99% of romance isn’t about reinventing the wheel), what separates the best from the rest is the execution. I think Ms. Dawson has done extremely well with crafting some sympathetic and interesting characters, solid banter and ultimately making the obstacles that James and Gracie’s relationship face play out in a believable manner.

Part of series yet stands alone: This is the third book in the series, which I didn’t know going in, but I’m glad I didn’t let that stop me. I was curious about the romances for Cecelia/Shane and Maddie/Mitch, but it didn’t hinder my enjoyment of this story whatsoever. There’s enough backstory supplied that I didn’t feel lost or missing out on any goodies.

Smoking hot chemistry: I thought James and Gracie had phenomenal chemistry and the anticipation built steadily with each and every scene, until I just wanted to scream at them to ‘just do it already!’ – I love when book makes me do that. Their first date was great and I read it more than once. The first love scene was compelling and squirm-inducing. Best yet, it was chemistry that translated outside of the bedroom.

They have excellent scenes where you see James AND Gracie them get past their preconceived notions of the other. Their arguing was filled with unresolved sexual tension and I certainly connect with it.  I have a very rational husband who can drive me NUTS when he calmly ignores my rants, so the final payback when James finally sees it made me laugh out loud. They also had a wonderful playful side (hence the book’s title) and the games they played in and out of the bedroom were sexy and fun.

My quibbles: I wasn’t really expecting the better living through sexual domination moment, which was ok, but I think needed a bit to flesh it out. Also, I have to admit that James calling Gracie “baby girl” seemed a bit off, considering his personality. I loved that he wasn’t just a stuffed shirt, but personal nicknames should seem to fit the rest of his dialogue and it sort of didn’t.  


A pleasant surprise, I really enjoyed this well executed take on an old trope. I’m looking forward to reading more from Ms. Dawson and more about the Donovans.

– Ivy

*An ARC was received for an honest review.



Click on the images below to purchase the previous books in the series:

1g 1h

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