Play to Win by Jodie Slaughter

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Griffin

Date of publication: July 11th, 2023

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Fiction, LGBT, Adult Fiction

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | B&N |AbeBooks | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

Jodie Slaughter’s latest rom-com, Play to Win , is a sizzling romance where a winning lottery ticket is meant to be a new start but instead becomes a second chance at love.

Miriam Butler’s life is going nowhere in the slowest, most excruciating way possible. Stuck in the same barely-paying job she’s had since she was sixteen and spending every night sleeping in the spare twin bed in her mother’s house, her existence might be hilarious if it wasn’t so bleak. One trip to her favorite corner store upends everything when she finds herself the winner of a Mega Millions Lottery Jackpot. Unfortunately, not even life-altering roses come without their painful thorns. Hers just so happen to be in the form of an estranged husband who has the right to claim his share of her money.

It’s been eight years since Leo Vaughn has had a conversation with his wife. When she calls out of the blue, practically begging him to come back to Greenbelt, the last thing he expects her to tell him when he gets there is that she’s come into a whole heap of money. She offers him a life-changing proposition of his own. Take a lump sum, finally sign the divorce papers, and be done with her for good. Only, a forever without her is the last thing Leo wants. So he gives a proposition of his own. One that won’t cost her nearly as many millions, but will buy him the time to do the one thing he’s been hungry to do since he left — win her back.

First Line:

Digging a hole was not nearly as easy as it looked on TV. First off, shovels were heavy. Second, South Carolina dirt seemed to be as hard as her mama always said her head was.

Play to Win by Jodie Slaughter

Miriam is stuck in a rut and can’t seem to get out of it. Living at home with her mother and working the same job that barely pays her bills, her life doesn’t seem that great. That is until she stops at the corner store she usually frequents and, on a whim, plays a Mega Millions lottery ticket. That lottery ticket is the sole winner of the jackpot—over $200 million. Overnight, Miriam’s life is changed. But there is a downside to her winnings. Miriam finds out that her ex-husband (never divorced) is legally entitled to a portion of her winnings—if he doesn’t accept the offer of a divorce and a legally binding document with a payoff. When Miriam calls Leo (her ex) and asks him to come home, he is curious. They haven’t spoken in eight years. When Miriam presents Leo with the divorce papers, he counters with another offer. Let him win her back and use the money she would have given him to help out members of his family that need it. But Miriam is still hurt over Leo leaving and hesitates to let him back in. Will Leo be able to win Miriam back? Or will he have to sign the divorce papers and let the love of his life go?

Play to Win was several rom-coms on a limited time Read Now on St. Martin’s Press NetGalley page. Unlike the cozy mysteries I downloaded earlier this year, I read the blurbs before deciding to read them. This book’s blurb caught my attention because, in a way, it reflected my life. So, I downloaded it. Also, what figured into my decision was that I wanted to know what Miriam would do with the money she won. I am glad I read it because this was a sweet book.

Play to Win had a medium-to-fast storyline. The pacing of this storyline did fit it. The author was able to zip through some of the background noise and keep me focused on the storyline. Also, there was no lag in this book, which I appreciated.

Play to Win takes place in the fictional town of Greenbelt, South Carolina. This town is a small town with all of the small-town trappings. Everyone was in everyone else’s business. What I liked is that the author chose to showcase this but keep it in the background. But, on the same page, because it was a small town, I was surprised that Miriam could keep her lottery-winning under wraps.

The main storyline of Play to Win centers on Miriam, her winning the lottery, Leo, his attempts to win her back, and what she does with the money. It was a well-written storyline that kept me glued to the book. I became invested in the plotline and the characters. I am hoping that the author does another book in this universe!!

I was surprised by how much I connected with Miriam and loved watching her character grow throughout the book. She came across, at first, as a bit prickly, but as the book went on, that went away. Her astonishment over winning the lottery was perfect, and I loved how she was paying it forward. I did get a little irritated with how she treated Leo. But, there was no background about their relationship until well past the middle of the book (but not quite at the end). I wouldn’t have been so grumpy with her actions if it had been given earlier. Because once it was explained, I was furious on her behalf.

I liked Leo, but I felt he laid it on too thick with Miriam once he was back in Greenbelt. I understood why he was doing it, but at the same time, I was like, “Back off.” His past actions were directly influencing how Miriam felt about him. Once the author explained what happened, I was so mad at him. He took the coward’s way out. But, the good thing is that he understood what he did was wrong, that his way of thinking might be a little outdated, and that he was willing to do whatever it took to make it up to Miriam.

The romance angle of Play to Win was well written. The author did a great job with the second-chance romance trope. I loved that Miriam wasn’t easily won over and that Leo had to work to regain her trust. Also, he had to go through her friends and mother to romance her. That scene with Miriam’s mother (in the church basement) was pure gold. While I knew this was a romance, and there would be a happy ending, there was a point in the book where I didn’t think it would happen. And that, my friends, is one of the many things that made this book for me.

Miriam and Leo had insane chemistry, and I was waiting for it to combust. The author took her sweet time having them get together. The sex scenes were hot but graphic. I liked that the author was picky about when Miriam and Leo would have sex. It was a couple of times before they got back together, and once at the end of the book.

The end of Play to Win was everything I hoped and wanted it to be. I liked seeing Leo and Miriam get their happy ending. The author was able to wrap up all the storylines in a way that satisfied me. I smiled when I stopped reading, and I typically don’t do that.

I recommend Play to Win to anyone over 21. There is graphic sex, language, and mild violence.

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Griffin, NetGalley, and Jodie Slaughter for allowing me to read and review Play to Win. All opinions expressed in this review are mine.

If you enjoyed reading this review of Play to Win, then you will enjoy reading these books:

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