Member Reviews

I really enjoyed this book, and it gave me some Star’s Hollow vibes. It was a little more contemporary fiction that included a love story rather than a romance, in my opinion. I really liked all the character dynamics and backstories, particularly from the small town perspective. I think in terms of chapter perspectives it should have remained a dual perspective book. There were a few other perspectives thrown in along the way, and they left me wanting more because they were so fleeting. Overall, this was a quick read that also had depth because of all the details about secondary characters, and I really enjoyed it.

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The Only Game in Town was a unique read as we’re given the perspective of some of the secondary characters, which I felt provided more context to the story and you get to know the backstory of the book’s ‘villain’. The romance between Jess and Carter was sweet and I loved the banter throughout.

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When the eccentric and rich Jasper Barclay dies, his small town of Redford, Georgia all turn out for the funeral. His grandson, Barclay has come into town for the funeral and to carry out his grandfather's last wishes for his fortune. Barclay and the town are thrown into a tizzy when it's revealed that Jasper has devised a game for all the residents of the town to play in groups of two that he assinged before his death. The winning duo will win the entirety of his estate. Now, Barclay is stuck in this tiny and strange town with locals that don't quite trust him, playing the game in hopes of winning the inheritance. Jess Reid has her own reasons for wanting to win the money, but as she and Barclay get closer as the game goes on, they'll each need to decide just how far they're willing to go.

I can't even tell you the fun this book was! There are so many wonderful and slightly crazy characters, and all of them trying to best each other to win the money. There is a wonderful romance, plenty of hysterical banter between the characters, and such fun challenges involved in the game itself. I had no idea what to expect with this book, and it was so much more than I could have hoped for. Maybe not the most realistic plot I've ever read, but so much fun! I found myself hoping it wouldn't end, and I would hands down read more of the exploits of this town. If you're looking for something to make you laugh, that has heart and sweetness in spades, this is the book you are looking for.

Thanks so much to Penguin Group Putnam and NetGalley for providing me an ARC of this book.

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Thanks to Putnam for an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion - this is available as of Tuesday 3/21. While I listened to both of Lacie Waldon’s previous releases, this was my first time reading her writing with my eyes!
This is a small town romance with a pretty unbelievable premise - a wealthy member of the small town has passed away and, instead of leaving his $10 million fortune to his grandfather, he has arranged a game for all town members to play in order to win his fortune. In addition, he’s made non-negotiable pairings for the participants, and he seems to have taken some joy in pairing unlikely duos such as MC Jess and her nemesis Nikki as well as the two competing bakers in the town. While I thought the premise was silly, I was easily sucked into this book, reading until late at night two nights in a row which is pretty unusual for me, as I’m normally a morning reader. If you’re looking for a fun read (that’s more women’s fiction than romance, in my opinion), you might want to look into this one.

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Jessica Reid loves her small town. She gave up a publishing job in New York City to come back home to Redford, Georgia. She’s still working in publishing, although in a lesser role. She’s still being bullied by the same mean girls she was bullied by in high school. She loves being to eat dinner with her dad several times a week again, but she is bored.

And then Jasper Wilhelm died.

Jasper was a very wealthy man who could have lived anywhere in the world he chose. He chose Redford. And when he died, he decided to leave ten million dollars to the town.

As soon as everyone hears this, they are excited and immediately start thinking of all the improvements they could make there. So many repairs, so many upgrades. But then Novak steps in. Novak was Jasper’s attorney, and he’s there to supervise the game. Jasper didn’t just want to hand over the money to the town. That would be too easy. He wanted the townspeople to compete.

Jasper has set up a strict set of rules and a scoring system that he only shared with Novak. He even set up the teams already. He divided everyone into teams of two. Like Luanne and Sally, the two bakers in town who have been waging a war about muffins for years. Or Jess and her nemesis Nikki. Or Jess’s favorite bartender Bryce and Carter Barclay, who is not a local but is Jasper’s grandson, in town for the funeral.

The first competition is a giant scavenger hunt, where the competitors had to solve riddles and then hunt down the answers and take photos of themselves with them. It’s during this competition that Jess realizes just how serious Nikki is about winning the money, and how she will have to up her game to keep in the competition.

Jess wants to win—it would let her focus on the authors she truly believes in, and she could give back to the town. But then she finds out some devastating news, and she needs that money to keep her life from blowing up.

But Carter has a secret. He had helped his grandfather give financial boosts to families who needed it. Jasper tried to find a way to help the citizens of Redford without making it obvious, and Carter thinks that Jasper is using this contest to help him continue their work. In other words, Carter thinks that the game is rigged in his favor. Which makes it complicated, as he’s developing strong feelings for Jess, and he doesn’t want to stand in her way.

As Jess and Carter scramble to win the money, joining teams and competing against each other, flirting and getting shot at, they find themselves drawn together. But will this competition for ten million dollars bring them together, or will it push them apart?

The Only Game in Town is a sweet, charming, small-town story of hope and healing, of the small fights we get into with our neighbors and the ways we can get past them. Author Lacie Waldon imbues this town and this story with warmth and wonder, and the ending is the loveliest surprise I could imagine.

I adored The Only Game in Town. I wished I could be a part of this town and watch al this as it was going on. And, you know, try those muffins. It’s told from the perspectives of several different characters, so you get a broad view of what’s happening in the town, and getting that insider’s view to these various personalities adds so much to a plot that has fun and whimsy and twists and romance. This book is all heart, and if you’re a fan of small-town stories with pie-eating contests, rickety boats, Barbie Jeeps, and heartwarming endings, then you will definitely want to check this one out.

Egalleys for The Only Game in Town were provided by G.P. Putnam’s Sons through NetGalley, with many thanks.

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I was excited to read The Only Game in Town by Lacie Waldon, as I have liked her past works. Unfortunately, this didn't work for me. It's partly my fault, as I thought I was getting a small-town contemporary romance, and it wasn't. So, my expectations hurt this book's chances. There is a romance, but it is not the focus of the book. This book is about a small town that is finding its way and all the colorful characters who live there.

The story itself is sweet and wholesome. The town's well-loved benefactor has passed, and he is giving away millions of dollars to the team that wins a scavenger-type game he created. His grandson, Carter, an outsider, is in town to attend the funeral and play the game. The benefactor chose the teams with an obvious purpose. Throughout the game, the teams and ultimately the town come together to play the game, despite past disputes or grudges.

The characters are what you would expect for a small town. Many of them are so fun. Besides Jess and Carter, the romantic couple, we follow Jess's dad and her teammate. This is where the book lost me. Every time we were with the dad and/or the teammate, it took me out of the book. I just did not care about their POV, and I wanted to get back to the banter between Jess and Carter. There is also an age gap trope between the teammate and the dad (a very small portion of the book) that also took me out of the book. Full disclosure: the age gap trope is not for me.

I think so many people will adore this because it is adorable. If you want a small town with a cast of quirky characters and a side of romance, then this will be perfect for you.

Thank you to Putnam and NetGalley for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Thank you to Putnam Books, Lacie Waldon, and NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

First, can we talk about how cute the cover is? How it instantly grabs your eye? I love it.

Second, I love small town, grumpy/sunshine, and enemies to lovers so this was one I know I needed to read. This was a cute read. I laughed out loud more than once while reading. I liked Jess and I liked Carter. They were the perfect main characters. I definitely recommend it.

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Unfortunately I’ve been in a reading slump recently and I just could not get into this book. I really think I would love this book in the future and will still definitely recommend to my followers.

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I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley and Penguin Group Putnam in exchange for an honest review.

In the small town of Redford, Jasper Wilhelm just passed away. As a wealthy man that loved his town, his will leaves a substantial amount of money to the people of the town, but there’s a catch…they have to play a game to earn it, and only one team will earn it! For Jess, the money would change everything, but when she’s paired up with a girl that hates her, she knows it’ll be a challenge. Meanwhile, Jasper’s grandson Carter was in town for the funeral and was also included in the game. The competition is fierce, but there could be something more to win than just the money.

This was a cute story. The townspeople are all so quirky, their personalities really stood out. Jess was sweet, and really cared about those around her.

The concept of the game and the events was unique, but I think the execution could’ve been better. There were multiple POVs, and seemed like too many to me. There were a lot of pieces to the story that seemed like too much. Things could’ve been simplified a bit.

Overall I’d give it 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3!

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This story was a bit of a let down for me. From the very beginning of this story, I was sure that I was going to love it. Maybe even a 5 star read! But then I got to the halfway mark and I honestly felt like the book wasn't going to end. It was so long and drawn out. The book would have been so much better at half the length. Unfortunately, I feel like this author just isn't going to be one I pick up in the future. All of her reads have been very 'ehh' for me.

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This fun novel is set in a small town in Georgia, where the rich benefactor of the town dies and it’s announced that there will be a competition to inherit his fortune. The book is primarily told from three perspectives - Jess, a woman in her 20s who lives in the town; Nikki, her nemesis who she ends up paired with for the competition; and Carter, the grandson of the dead benefactor who has never come to the town before the funeral but stays for the competition and has an instant connection with Jess; with a few chapters from the perspective of Jess’s dad as well.

Unlike Lacie Waldon’s first two books which were more romances, this book is a bit of a combination of genres, though there is still a very cute slow burn romance too. But it’s also a quirky small town novel, plus the competition gives it a dash of The Westing Game and maybe a bit of the feel of a reality competition show too. But it doesn’t feel like too much, it still all adds up to a cute and light book.

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Oh, gosh I just loved this book! It felt like I was reading a heartwarming Hallmark movie.

When Jasper Wilhelm passed away (the generous benefactor to the town none of them were aware was him) he has left ten million dollars to the town of Redford to be competed for in exactly the eccentric way he has dictated in his will. Including Jasper pre-arranging all the groups of two (and most of the people are less than happy with these arrangements). Jasper has also included his grandson, Carter, in these pairings to compete for the millions.

The pairings and the tasks Jasper has outlined have forced many of the townspeople of Redford to work together, resolve their differences and put the past behind both for the potential prize and the betterment of their community.

The book closely follows the pairings of Carter and Bryce and Jess and Nikki who demonstrate forgiveness and teamwork and Jess and Carter start to become closer than just friends.

5/5 stars this was a delight!

Thank you to NetGalley and Putnam for the E-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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(ARC from NetGalley) As someone from a small-town in GA, I wasn’t the biggest fan. Although I do agree that the bars have awful music. This book leaned more heavily toward fiction than romance. It mostly focused on the townspeople and the relationships/interactions with the main characters rather than Jess and Carter themselves.
I think if you’re a fan of Virgin River (without the drugs) or Hart of Dixie you’d like this.

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“To belong was all she’d ever really wanted. Not even to fit in or be liked, just to be connected to a group of people who were willing to live their lives with her.”

I feel the same way as Jess who is one of the main character in The Only Game in Town. This is a fun read and I fell in love with the colorful characters and the town of Redford.

Thank you NetGalley, GP Putnam’s Sons and Penguin Group Putnam for the ARC of this new book by Lacie Waldon!

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Redford is a very Gilmore-esque small town. The families and people know each other. They have a very family type feeling to it - even down to the fights and rivalries. So when the town’s founder passes away and leaves his fortune as winnings for a town game, the claws come out!

Jess is a very colorful character - her teammate, Nikki, is an Instagram Influencer who hates Jess for cheating on her boyfriend in high school. Carter is the grandson to the town founder - he is not very well liked in the town, but his teammate, Bryce, is willing to give him a chance.

Friendships and romance is formed through the challenge and in the end, the challenge does more than give two people each 5 million dollars. It reminds the townspeople of their love & friendship for each other.

I really liked this book, but I’m also a fan of Lacie’s other books as well. I loved that this one was a mix of women’s fiction with some romance thrown in. I definitely give it a solid four stars.

Huge thank you to Putnam and NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for my honest review!

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I am really enjoying Lacie Waldon’s books. I loved the small town and the competition that takes place . The main character is charming and live seeing her get her hea.

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Thank you NetGalley and publisher for this ARC publication for an honest review.

The Only Game in Town
by Lacie Waldon
Pub Date: 21 Mar 2023

I loved Lacie Waldon's "From the Jump..." and was excited to get this ARC. While I didn't have as strong feelings this time around, I did enjoy it. There are multiple points of view which was interesting especially since you get the "mean girl" as one of our narrators. I actually appreciated seeing some behind the scenes with her beyond just her mean girl persona. This book had quirky characters in a small town with community members competing against other for a monetary prize. Our hero, Carter, is the grandson of the benefactor who is an outsider to the small town. Jess, our heroine, is invested in the prize to help her newly diagnosed father who is sick. There is some insta-love stuff that goes on, but there is also a lot of cute and funny moments that happen. I would say the romance is not the main focal point either. The "game" and the happenings surrounding that is more the main story. This is a decent read, and I will still check out the next thing the author has to offer her readers.

3.5 stars

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This cover caught my eye and then I saw that it was written by Lacie Waldon and I knew I had to read this one.

The premise for this novel is somewhat silly. A rich, muchloved member of this small town dies, but not before setting up a game to see who will win his fortune of 10 million dollars. Odd, a bit unbelievable, but has the potential to be heartwarming.

I really enjoyed the two main characters, Jess and Carter. They were charming and played well off each other. The downfall for this book, for me, was there were a few too many characters. There just seemed like too much was going on and it was hard to truly get to know Jess and Carter because of that.
Plus this book was over 400 pages...way too long, and it dragged at times.

This book was just ok for me. Enjoyable but forgettable.

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The Only Game in Town by Lacey Waldon
Thank you to NetGalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review. The aspect I enjoyed most about this cute, small town romance is that the third-person perspective allowed the reader to see inside the minds of several characters aside from the main couple. The reader is able to empathize with characters whose behavior is unpleasant at times and this strengthened the book.
What worked:
1. The shifting perspectives. Jess Reed and Carter Barclay might be the main couple, but there are many stories within their story.
2. Jess’s dedication to her small town of Redford, Georgia led her to make decisions that hurt her emotionally at times, but also ultimately made her a stronger person.
3. Jess and Carter’s relationship was adorable.
4. The game that Carter’s grandfather, Jasper Wilhelm, set up and the pairings he created leads to mishaps, hijinks, and often hilarious situations.
5. The reasoning behind much of Jess’ behavior and her desire to help her family and friends makes her a lovely character.
What didn’t:
1. Nikki and her friends are horrible to Jess in the beginning and she seemingly puts up with it, never fighting back. I could not understand why she would return to town when she was constantly bullied by the three women. Nikki was almost cartoonish in her villainy. Her character arc makes up for it, but it was a little ridiculous at first.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this funny, endearing read.

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Thank you NetGalley, GP Putnam’s Sons and Penguin Group Putnam for the ARC of this new book by Lacie Waldon!

I adore a story about a small town! These characters felt like coming home to a big hug after a long day! Nikki was one of my favorite characters and she reminded me a lot of a character I read last summer in Katy Birchall’s book (The Secret Bridesmaid) very multi layered and “more than meets the eye”. I laughed out loud when Carter gave Jess the heimlich in one scene!

The romance is sweet and closed door, I didn’t really feel like the story focused on that as much as just a general sense of belonging and relationships/connections. This is the kind of story I look for when I want to reread a book and just feel comfort. I highly recommend and will be adding to my shelf forever. I look forward to reading more by Lacie in the future!

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