• Sara Bond

Pairings Project: THE EXIT STRATEGY by Lainey Cameron

TLDR; A cheer out loud story about women, power, and finding yourself in the face of losing everything.




At its heart, Lainey Cameron’s THE EXIT STRATEGY is a story about the power of friendship, though that is not at all where it starts. It starts, instead, with two women, each on the verge of her own personal greatness, ready to step into the next stage of their powerful careers, when everything blows up on them.


Ryn is a venture capitalist, the only woman in the boardroom, and poised to take on the role of partner. She only has to get through the process of vetting and funding her next firm, and she’ll have achieved what she always wanted: equal footing as a woman in Silicon Valley. Carly is a scientist and founder of a medical tech company, about to launch a medical device that will safe thousands if not millions of lives and validate all of the journey that brought her to this place in life. After a series of missteps early in her life, Carly is finally the assured, capable if not confident woman she always had the potential to be, and she now has a responsibility to herself, her team, and her young son to succeed at taking her company to the next level.


The plans of both women are brought to grinding halts when they come face to face and discover that they have been betrayed by a man. Ryn’s husband and Carly’s fiance are the same person, and Todd’s double-life threatens to rob them of their own separate achievements. They must team up, both to save their respective careers, but also to take down their duplicitous ex.


Cameron does a masterful job of building up the camaraderie of Ryn and Carly as they uncover the many layers of Todd’s deceptions. She confronts the sexism and misogyny of tech culture, giving Silicon Valley its own glorious #MeToo moment. It’s a twisty, exciting story, and as the camaraderie between the two leads grows into a strong friendship, you can’t help but celebrate.


I loved this book so much. It took only a day and a half to finish, because I could not put it down! I literally cheered and laughed out loud at several brilliantly crafted moments, and the ending was so satisfying. The book reads with authority and confidence, with characters you can really relate to, a plot that keeps you hooked, and prose that is both tight and expressive. THE EXIT STRATEGY is a promising debut that will hopefully launch Cameron to her own great success (mostly because I can’t wait to see what she writes next!).


TLDR; A cheer out loud story about women, power, and finding yourself in the face of losing everything.




COCKTAIL PAIRINGS: Ryn's Nutella Martini and Nutelle Milkshake


Venture capitalist Ryn has one very obvious weakness. It’s not her husband; it’s not her pride; it’s not even her job. It’s her crutch when things get hard. She turns to Nutella.


Ryn lost her mother at a young age, but one of her most enduring memories is sharing Nutella with her: slathered over toast, drizzled over ice cream, or straight up scooped out of the jar and eaten right off the spoon. Ryn keeps an emergency supply of Nutella in her cabinet, and Carly devises ways to comfort her friend with Nutella lattes and Nutella cake.


It made my drink options fairly obvious. To pay tribute to this brilliant novel, I had to offer up a cocktail Ryn herself would love. I’m also doing a first for this blog: I’m offering both an alcoholic cocktail and a mixed drink without alcohol. You can choose either one or both in turn to pair with this brilliant book. They’re both incredibly rich and indulgent, so I don’t recommend multiple iterations (unless you’re Ryn and can spook down an entire jar of Nutella without gaining a pound). But I will warn you: these drinks are entirely too delicious, and you will WANT way too many.




Alcoholic drink: Ryn's Nutella Martini




2 oz vodka

1.5 oz Frangelico or Hazelnut liqueur

1 oz Bailey’s or Irish Cream

Nutella (rim)

Chopped Hazelnuts (garnish)

Ferrero Rocher (garnish)














Prepare your martini glass. Rim the edge with Nutella. You can do this by spreading a layer of Nutella on a shallow dish and dipping the edge of your martini glass into the spread, by microwaving it to soften it up and and drizzling it over the whole thing, or delicately using a spoon to spread the mixture across the edge of your glass (recommended). If you have hazelnuts (surprisingly hard to procure by themselves), you can sprinkle these over the rim or likewise, dip the nutella spread rim into a plate of delicately chopped hazelnuts.






Pour all liquid ingredients together over ice. Stir, but do not shake together. Shaking will introduce too much water to the drink and dilute the delicate balance of these rich flavors. Strain into your prepared glass.


Using a dull knife cut a deep wedge into your Ferrero Rocher candy and affix to the edge of your glass.




Non-alcoholic drink: Nutella Milkshake



1 cup Whole milk

2 scoops vanilla ice Cream

2 tbsp Nutella (plus rim and garnish)

Chopped Hazelnuts (garnish)

Ferrero Rocher (garnish)


Most recipes for a drink like this encourage you to use a blender. This is because the Nutella is very thick and hard to mix, and has a terrible tendency to settle to the bottom. If you have a blender, use that. If you have a mason jar and a blender ball, use that. If you have only a shaker, some ice, and the ingredients, use your arm muscles to blend as hard as you can. If the Nutella ends up sinking to the bottom of your milkshake, all that means is you have a great finish to your drink. That fits with the satisfying ending of Lainey’s book, and I can’t be mad.


Anyway, this is what I recommend.





Prepare your glass. Rim the edge with Nutella. You can do this by spreading a layer of Nutella on a shallow dish and dipping the edge of your dessert glass into the spread, by spooning it directly onto the glass and drizzling it over the whole thing (my favorite), or delicately using your fingers to spread the mixture across the edge of your glass. If you have hazelnuts (surprisingly hard to procure by themselves), you can sprinkle these over the rim or likewise, dip the nutella spread rim into a plate of delicately chopped hazelnuts.






Set out the ice cream for a few minutes to soften it. Spoon in two scoops into your blender, mason jar, or shaker. Add 1 cup milk and 2 tbsp Nutella. Using a blender ball or a blender, combine ingredients. Pour into the glass you prepared.


Using a dull knife cut a deep wedge into your Ferrero Rocher candy and affix to the edge of your glass.




Photos from NASA Image Collection and use of these images does not imply endorsement or recognition of my work by NASA or anyone associated with NASA.

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