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…).


4,5 stars

I received a free book from @PRHInternational and I was so excited to read that book! I love Ali Hazelwood’s books and I was very curious to try her first young adult story!

She certainly didn’t disappoint!

I read that book in record time and had tons of fun!

Honestly one of the biggest perks of the book is the banter, especially Mallory’s siblings! But I digress…

What’s Check & Mate about?

It’s the story of Mallory who has renounced her dream of playing chess four years ago after something happened with her father. Until that day, she breathed chess , ate chess and dreamt of it.

But after something happened (we won’t know what before a long time), Mallory stopped playing and with her dad out of the picture and her mom suffering from chronic illness, Mallory is now the sole provider for her mom and two younger sisters.

She would have kept on living from menial jobs, struggling to make ends meet if not for her best friend Easton who signed her for a chess competition for charity.

There she’ll beat the world champion, Ronan Sawyer, to everyone’s astonishment!

What will follow will be Mallory being recruited to play chess and a slow burn romance with dark and broody Sawyer!

Read that book if you love:

-competitions and underdogs.

Obviously we’ll have several chess competitions and Mallory having no rating she was the underdog. I loved seeing her kicking behinds (metaphorically) and being the first astonished as she felt like a fraud!

siblings interaction and great banter.

I swear Darcy and Sabrina, Mallory’s youngest sisters are she devils but so funny!!!! I laughed so many time at their banter! This is an uncorrected proof but here is a sample of said banter, when Darcy (twelve) is talking to Mallory: “You should stop swearing in front of twelve-year-olds. Mrs. Vitelli says that my brain’s still all squishy. I’ll probably end up in juvie if you swear just once more.

Also regarding her siblings and their antics, Mallory is declaring “Mom says it’s puberty. I lean toward demonic possession, but who knows?”

smart, selfless and courageous heroine

Mallory is really thinking about everyone but herself. She works hard to provide for her family as her mom is unable to do it. And that’s not easy every day, especially when her sisters whine and complain, not seeing all she has sacrificed.

Mallory is also exceptionally smart and I loved seeing her play chess, witnessing how her brain worked, never resting, always building chess strategies!

-dark and broody hero “who falls first”.

Sawyer has a reputation! “Everyone in the community knows that Nolan Sawyer is a terrible, moody, ill-tempered ball of toxic masculinity. That he’s the poorest loser in the history of chess. In the history of any sport. In the history of history. Which, because he just lost against me, is possibly going to develop into a problem.” Yet with Mallory he’ll always be respectful and even admirative! He retained his mystery for a very long time in the book but we felt that he had feelings for Mallory. Even better, it’s a “he fell first” trope!

-slow burn romance between rivals to lovers.

The relationship between Mallory and Sawyer evolves slowly and organically. From rivals to allies, friends and…more!

As you can see, I truly enjoyed that story and I can’t wait to get Ali’s next book because I adore her brand of romance!

Thank you so much for the free book PRH International!


Thanks for reading.


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      1. Probably, I may read it with Hazelwood’s last adult book. Because Kiersten reviewed them, I kept pushing them down my weekly TBR. It should slow down soon, and I can squeeze them both in