Cover Image: The Game She Plays

The Game She Plays

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Member Reviews

A young American woman is thrust into the closed social circle of English aristocrats, but beneath their charm and glamor lay secrets and dark betrayals that follow them—and her—around every corner. This wasn't quite as twisty as fact it was rather slow and the characters were not very compelling. The plot dragged in places and while it wasn't the worst story, I had to make myself finish it. Very predictable ending.
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Juliet, the "she" in the book is a young upper crust British woman (or one in disguise, anyway) who enjoys playing with other people's lives. A group of young people, including Juliet, goes to a an impressive mansion in the British countryside, and the plot thickens. The only non-Brit is Nicola, who is American. She has serendipitously met James, on his way back to England, on a flight over to London. Eventually, James falls in love with Nicola and proposes. Later in the book, she and James go to America to meet Nicola's hippie parents who apparently spend most of their time under the influence of marijuana.

Also included are Badger and Trez, who eventually becomes pregnant. The activities of the group include hunting and fishing, and there is some question as to whether or not Juliet accidentally or on purpose shoots a young boy helping to fan the prey for the hunters into the open.

The interactions of the people in the group are not terribly exciting, and the ultimate death of one of them is rather surprising but not quite shocking. I found the plot and conversations to be somewhat dull on occasion, and there was excitement lacking in the book.

Thanks to the publisher and Net Galley for the opportunity to read this book.
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Meeting your boyfriend's friends is tough when the friends are super rich, posh and out of your league. Nicola travels to the english countryside and immediately feels like a fish out of water.

To add to her discomfort, her boyfriend's first love arrives for the weekend. Nicola doesn't like her on principle but in addition senses a more evil presence in her.
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The Game She Plays…

We’ll that one just sit with you for a bit…

I instantly gravitated toward this title. I was curious for sure and the cover didn’t give anything away. 

I just could never have anticipated all this book was going to be. 

This was my second book by Sterling and quite frankly I have become a fan. Sterling has easily turned into an auto buy author for me. 

You will catch yourself “thinking” you have this book all figured out but I promise you, you’re DEAD wrong. Jam packed with twists and turns, there’s no way you’ll be able to anticipate what’s next. 

Don’t believe me, check out this teaser:

To everyone else it was “just” a weekend house party—complete with a pheasant shoot, inside jokes, and after-dinner games. But for American Nicola Harris, swept off her feet by aristocratic Englishman James Shuttleworth, the weekend is her first chance to penetrate his close-knit circle of posh friends—people with names like Badger and Trez, people who will soon have the titles of Earl and Countess. Nicola is eager to fit in, but she can’t seem to navigate this insular world, where everyone speaks a private language and secrets are hinted at behind the jolly jokes and witty barbs.

Just as Nicola begins to feel welcome, Juliet arrives. Mysterious, stunning, charismatic Juliet is also James’ first love—the one who left him heartbroken ten years before. Juliet holds the men in thrall and the women under her spell. And although it seems she can do no wrong, outsider Nicola senses something poisonous in her presence, something that sparks insecurity, jealousy, betrayal, and violence. Because Juliet is a champion game-player, able to lure you into her circle by finding your most vulnerable spot....and when the game she plays turns deadly, everyone is a suspect.
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The Game She Plays was alright, didn't adore it, but found it interesting enough. I wasn't hooked and found myself easily getting distracted when trying to read this one.
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This was my first book by Siena Sterling. I am officially a fan. This book had fantastic characters and a plot that kept me guessing.
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From my blog: Always With a Book

I recently read Siena Sterling’s debut thriller, Tell Us No Secrets, which I really liked, so I was excited to get my hands on her next book.

This book, while a bit of a slow-burn, was so twisty and addicting that I found myself completely engaged from start to finish. I love locked-room mysteries, so I was all in! And I loved how atmospheric it was, set in the English countryside. I wasn’t sure about the whole hunting aspect, but luckily that wasn’t really the main focus of the story. The real plot was the toxic friendships and I loved how the author played on the differences between the classes. You really saw that and even felt that at times.

I loved how there was a sense of that something was going to happen but you didn’t know what. The friends have gathered for a weekend getaway, but these friends don’t all seem to be on the same page. There’s secrets, jealousy, greed, gaslighting, manipulation and envy going on and while I liked some of the characters, there were definitely some that I couldn’t stand, which I love in a good thriller!

This was a really fun, escapism-type read, perfect for the summer. I will definitely be keeping this author on my watch-for list as I have enjoyed both her books so far.


Audio thoughts: This was the perfect book to listen to and the narrator, Caitlin Kelly, did an amazing job bringing the story to life. I found myself completely engaged in the audiobook and really enjoyed it!
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I envisioned the world of Bridgerton but with a more modern-day twist. With themes of British "royalty" and a "commoner" who is trying to fit into high society, I was already hooked. But when the hot ex-girlfriend arrives, all hell breaks loose. It's just a recipe for disaster - and I'm absolutely here for it! I love thrillers that I can turn into a movie in my head. These characters had such distinct personalities that I could envision them clearly. I feel like the setting or the basic plot has been done so many times, but Siena Sterling adds her twist and it works well.

Anyone enjoying thrillers will also enjoy reading about this villain and the power she wields to disrupt everything.
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This one was a slow burner for me. I did not hate it but I found myself looking for an excuse to do something else while reading it a couple of times. I thought the prose was nice and the characters were intriguing. It was fun when it was fun and boring otherwise.
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The Game She Plays by Siena Sterling
Release Date June 06, 2023
Publisher William Morrow

A house party… but not just any house party though. One where those invited will have titles that will regale those around them. There is an American woman there. Nicola Harris. She is working hard to work her way through the crowd. Getting to know those of importance. Enter James Shuttleworth, a very handsome aristocrat.  Nicola is having trouble though with the way the people at the party converse. Yet there are many things said that hint at secrets that are yet to really be fully told. Now we meet James’s ex. The one who broke his heart and left him alone. Her name is Juliette. She has taken the men in the room by surprise with her wiley ways. Nicola is not fond of her and senses something is not right. Now the game is changing. Juliette has her sights set and she has managed to keep Nicola at bay by working her insecurities. What will Juliette do to finish the game? It seems she has more than death on her mind and everyone of them will be a suspect. Unless someone can figure out he next move first.

4 stars

Thank you to NetGalley as well as the author and publisher for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my unbiased and honest review.
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This book is very incorrectly billed as a thriller/mystery. In fact, it is a romance novel full of unpleasant people. The cast is a group of entitled and manipulative Brits, with one American thrown into the fray. Some are more manipulative than others, some are more entitled, and all are unpleasant in one way or another. The American woman is so insecure that she allows herself to be drawn into the games played by the most manipulative British woman. Each of the characters is a "type" of one sort or another, rather than a fully developed character. Even the "hero" manages to, by the end, engage in the same nastiness as the others. There was no one to like in this book.

It was not a mystery nor a thriller but rather filled with relationship issues and the characters' bad behavior. There is a murder, yes, but it's only at the very end of the book and the reader knows the details within the next few pages.

I really disliked this book and wondered why I stuck with it to the end. Part of that is wanting to know where the supposed thriller aspect that was touted by the marketers was. And part of it was for the location. A private sort of British castle, where one of the couples lives while waiting to inherit (did I say "entitled" yet?) and a Scottish lodge provide most of the background. Sterling does a good job of placing the reader into the setting.

I have no doubt that many will love this book but it was not my cup of tea and, for me at least, the publicity did it a disservice through misrepresentation.
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Thank you so much to NetGalley and the publisher for granting me an advance copy of this book in return for my honest opinions.

This book was just okay for me. Not great but not bad.
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I definitely enjoyed this book, although it didn't compare to the normal "thrillers" I read. It was still an entertaining and engaging read. I definitely think it had a nice flow and built up the suspense for what was going to happen. Overall, it was a good page turner, I was invested the whole way through and would definitely recommend it to others!
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Thank you to NetGalley and William Morrow for access to an eARC in exchange for my honest review!!

Nicola Harris's life has crumbled down around her. After losing her job for punching her boss in the face after he'd made one too many sexist comments and losing her long term live-in boyfriend when he left her for an older divorcee, she makes the decision to do something borderline outside of her comfort zone for the first time in her life. She buys a ticket to Paris, aiming to take a short vacation to find herself and, while she's at it, to see the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. She even thinks she might be lucky enough to get two seats to herself on the plane, but when a handsome British man comes aboard at the last minute and sits beside her, all her plans are suddenly changed. In the span of one conversation on that long flight, James sweeps her off her feet, convincing her to derail her vacation and to go with him instead to his parent's vacation home in France, and later from there to London. It's a whirlwind romance, and before she knows it, she's been staying with him for two weeks, and suddenly he's taking her to meet The Club--a group of his old friends from his Cambridge days that have remained his best friends up to now.

What Nicola doesn't expect is to end up in a mansion owned by a future Earl and Countess, surrounded by people who, for the most part, treat her like an outsider. And worse than that, Juliet comes sweeping into the room with the last of the arrivals--James' ex-girlfriend who'd left them all behind years ago to move to Hong Kong. But are all the supposed slights Juliet seems to send her way over the next few days real attempts to get under her skin and get James back, or is it all in Nic's head?

Tensions continue to rise over the slow burn plot of the book until coming to a somewhat expected head and teetering off suddenly from there. Going in, I'll admit that I expected the time covered in the story to be far shorter and for far more to happen, especially on the death and murder front, but up until the ending, I enjoyed it for what it was.

I will say that I wasn't a big fan of the ending at all. For most of the book, I hated most of the characters and wanted them to get what was coming to them, but the whole time, Nicola was a great character and person who ended up in the wrong places at all sorts of wrong times, and she just didn't deserve the creepy, predatory, ambiguous ending that she got. It's a three star read for me because I did love the author's ability to create so many characters I genuinely hated and then others who I adored, but that ending really dragged it down for me in terms of whether I would reread or recommend to others.
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While I wouldn't call this a thriller-- it was still a total page turner. I'm not really sure how you would categories it, I just know I liked it, a lot. Mean girls must be a theme in books lately because sheesh, Juliet makes it to the top of the list. The thing about Juliet is that she doesn't ever just come out with being rude, she plays on your emotions, & then makes you look like you're crazy. She's controlling & drove me absolutely nuts. With all that being said, the drama she caused between James & Nicola was so frustrating but also relatable. I'm sure all of us at one time or another had that one ex that you avoid at all costs. Well, imagine spending weekends & vacations with your fiances ex & having to play nice. No. freaking. way. You can imagine, I'm sure, how tense & uncomfortable that would all be. Oh, now add someone ending up dead in the middle of all of us this. I'm telling you, it's a doozy. Grab your popcorn & get your read on!
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We’ve all known her at one point in our lives: the sickeningly sweet one that you see right through. This book was unusual because I kept waiting for a crime but suddenly found myself intrigued by the suspense and characters enough that the crime no longer even seemed relevant. Trust me, once you read it, you’ll understand!
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The game she plays was quite interesting. Told from multiple points of view. Nic meets James and Englishman on a plane and decides to follow him to England. Rich English people and a lodge and secrets and maybe even murder take place,. I really enjoyed how i was instantly captivated by this story. A twisted plot and a jaw dropping ending
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Wow, this was a roller coaster! Nicola (Nic) has a chance meeting on a plane to France. James, a wealthy British man, charms her and they end up traveling together. When she meets his friends, she is understandably nervous. But, the real issue is that one of the friends brings along Juliet, James' former girlfriend. When James assures Nic that there is nothing between them, Nic can't shake the feeling that he is wrong. 
Juliet continues to do things to unnerve Nic. She undermines Nic at every opportunity, slipping things into the conversation to upset Nic. James brushes them off. 
This is a tale of manipulation. It is creepy to see how devious some people can be, but the shocker is the ending!
I enjoyed this quick read, completed it in one sitting!
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Thank you Siena Sterling, William Morrow, and NetGalley for allowing me to read this ARC e-book. Murder mysteries will forever hold a soft spot and this one with its English scenery and fabulous life I could only slightly dream of, well it was great. Like the game of clue you must go through the characters to figure out who could have been a killer and even I had a hard time narrowing down the suspects. This book was an enjoyable read and I almost finished it in one sitting. I just had to solve it
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Nicola Harris met James Shuttleworth on a flight to France. She thought she had lucked out and got an empty seat next to her but he boarded just as the doors closed and proceeded to talk the whole flight. By the time they landed, Nicola was pretty sure she was in love. James invited her to a weekend away with his aristocratic friends. She definitely feels like an outsider. 

And then James’s ex, Juliet, shows up. She’s beautiful and charming and everyone loves her.  But the thing about Juliet is that she’s extremely manipulative. And her current manipulation is around turning the group against Nicola so she can have James to herself. But when her games turn deadly, Nicola makes the perfect suspect. 

I like watching the average everyday person interact with the super rich and this book was full of that. I liked watching the world view of Bella and Nicola clash against everyone else. Bella spends most of the story trying to make herself more posh to fit in. I also found the instant love between Nicola and James to be fascinating because it just sounds so far fetched. 

My biggest complaint was the pace of this book. It was the slowest of slow burn. The bye line of the books is when the games turn deadly and no one died until the last 4% of the book. There was just a lot of build up to an anticlimactic ending. Also, the end “twist” was completely out of left field. Any book can have a huge surprise twist if you just pull a random character with little connection into the spotlight. 

Thanks to Netgalley and William Marrow for providing this ARC to me!
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