I was so excited to read this book, pretty confident going into it that I'd love it, and I did. I love Ali Hazelwood's sense of humor in her adult romances, and that carries over into "Check & Mate." I also like that it's all about chess; there's something about fictional media about competitions that is so exciting! I liked the characters, and the slowburn romance too. It was enjoyable all around.
The only thing I really have to criticize is that... I don't feel like Mal or Nolan would ever exist in real life. They had their share of traumas, but were kind of... too shiny. Chess geniuses AND super hot. And this might seem like a little thing, but my suspension of disbelief regarding them being the two best chess players in the world broke when they were playing tic-tac-toe. It's pretty easy to learn how to win/draw at any game you play with anyone, and really boring once you figure it out. I have a hard time believing two people so smart wouldn't, and would be playing seriously.