Check and Mate by Ali Hazelwood - Check and Mate by Ali Hazelwood
Contemporary Romance

Check and Mate by Ali Hazelwood

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Check and Mate by Ali Hazelwood
Published by Sphere on 7 November 2023
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Format: ARC, eBook
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
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four stars - Check and Mate by Ali Hazelwood

In this clever and swoonworthy YA debut from the New York Times bestselling author of The Love Hypothesis, life's moving pieces bring rival chess players together in a match for the heart.

Mallory Greenleaf is done with chess. Every move counts nowadays; after the sport led to the destruction of her family four years earlier, Mallory's focus is on her mom, her sisters, and the dead-end job that keeps the lights on. That is, until she begrudgingly agrees to play in one last charity tournament and inadvertently wipes the board with notorious "Kingkiller" Nolan Sawyer: current world champion and reigning Bad Boy of chess.

Nolan's loss to an unknown rook-ie shocks everyone. What's even more confusing? His desire to cross pawns again. What kind of gambit is Nolan playing? The smart move would be to walk away. Resign. Game over. But Mallory's victory opens the door to sorely needed cash-prizes and despite everything, she can't help feeling drawn to the enigmatic strategist....

As she rockets up the ranks, Mallory struggles to keep her family safely separated from the game that wrecked it in the first place. And as her love for the sport she so desperately wanted to hate begins to rekindle, Mallory quickly realizes that the games aren't only on the board, the spotlight is brighter than she imagined, and the competition can be fierce (-ly attractive. And intelligent...and infuriating...)

Check and Mate by Ali Hazlewood is a cute and wholesome romance story with loss and loneliness at its soft centre. There is no perfect day to read this, so do it now. Ali Hazelwood has created some beautiful.

Checkmate - Check and Mate by Ali Hazelwood

Content Warnings

This book contains parental death and feelings of guilt attached to that.


My Review of Check and Mate

Check and Mate by Ali Hazelwood was my first book by the author (I know, I know, where have I been, right?) it’s true, apparently, I’ve been living under a rock. I’m on tik Tok and still, I’ve managed to avoid the hype that is The Love Hypothesis. Well, upon finishing Check and Mate, I ordered a preloved copy of The Love Hypothesis from a second-hand selling site. I also didn’t know that it featured women in STEM. I am sold!

Now, if you’ve been a follower of the blog for any length of time, you’ll know that sweet romance isn’t usually my cup of tea. In fact, I would usually run in the other direction if there were any mention or mere suggestion of me reviewing a romance book. I’m not romantic by nature and I don’t really like reading about it. So here I was more surprised than anyone when I requested Check and Mate by Ali Hazlewood from Netgalley a few months ago. Maybe it was the chess angle, maybe it just called to my nerdy side.

“God bless libraries.”

Check and Mate

Check and Mate is a delightfully sweet tale mixing heartache and passion and producing a heartfelt story perfect for the season.

“I think about a deserted chessboard. Only the white king on it, standing on the home square. Alone, untethered, safe from threats. Free to roam.”

Check and Mate

Mallory Greenleaf swore she’d never pick up a chess piece again.

But her family’s financial situation really calls for it. Her mum is diagnosed with rheumatoid Arthritis and needs specialised meds to keep her going. She freelances but hasn’t been able to do so, due to the constant aching in her joints.

As the oldest child, Mallory feels it is her responsibility to step up for her family. She gets a job in the garage her uncle owned and picks up as many shifts as she can, and completely gives up on any aspiration to go to college with her best friend, Easton. They aren’t comfortable, they’re still three months behind on the mortgage but they’re surviving…that is until Mallory gets fired from her job for refusing to upsell to a woman, It would be taking advantage of her, and she refuses. It ends up costing her her job and now her family doesn’t have much money coming in.

When Easton suggests that she enter a chess competition. She isn’t enthusiastic about it but agrees solely on the basis that they are broke, she just didn’t anticipate on beating the world’s #1 in Chess, Nolan Sawyer.

I adore stories with an unlikely band of characters. Mallory, her sisters, Easton, Nolan and his crew and the evil man of chess, Koch (laughed way too many times and the double entendres!) The banter, the relationships, and the miscommunication. Each character breaths life with their own complex set of motivations.

“In my experience, commitment leads to expectations, and expectations lead to lies, and hurt, and disappointment-stuff I’d rather not experience, or force others to experience.”

Check and Mate
Mallory Greenleaf – the daughter of a former GM of a chess club. She vows to never let chess consume her again.
Nolan Sawyer – World #1, has a reputation for being fiery when games don’t go his way. Arch nemesis of Koch.
Easton Pena – Mallory’s best friend and the sole reason Mallory picked up a chess piece again.

“I’d rather drink a can of Axe body spray while feral raccoons feast on my exposed bone marrow than sit across from this twat.”

Check and Mate

Highly recommended to readers that love the sweet kind of romance rather than the in-your-face-smut.

  • Have you read Check and Mate by Ali Hazlewood yet? How did you think it compared to The Love Hypothesis?
  • Have you added this to your TBR?
  • Are there other books that like this and should I pick them up?
four stars - Check and Mate by Ali Hazelwood

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