Cute, funny, and endearingly romantic
Fans of alternating points of view, slow-burn romances, fake dating, and witty banter will enjoy Lynn Painter’s latest. The Love Wager, Painter’s follow-up to Mr. Wrong Number, employs all of these for a charming friends-to-lovers romantic comedy.
When Hallie Piper finds herself waking up from an impromptu hookup after a bartending gig, she decides it’s time to get her life together. She draws up several “adult” goals for herself, including that of finding true love. And who does she first meet on a dating app but Jack Marshall, her one-night stand?
When Hallie and Jack get to messaging, they strike up an unexpected best-friendship. They also decide to strike a wager, betting on who can find love first. The “love wager” leads to a lot of shared tacos, first-date horror stories, and friendly flirtations. And when Hallie is unable to find a date in time for a family wedding, Jack offers to step into the role of her fake-boyfriend–but their pretending leads to a lot of real feelings, and both begin to wonder: Will they be able to remain best friends once the wedding weekend is over?
A testament to Lynn Painter’s skillful romance writing, Hallie and Jack’s chemistry jumps off the page. I do think Hallie’s feelings for Jack could have used more fleshing out in writing her point of view; it was hard to get a grasp on what she was feeling about Jack except during the scenes in which they interacted. Those scenes are enough, however. Their banter is lively and sparkling, betraying their mutual attraction and providing a strong backbone for their developing romance.
Bolstering the tried-and-true romantic tropes in the novel, Painter adds strong and likable characters to the mix in Hallie and Jack, who are extremely easy to get attached to. The Love Wager lives up to Painter’s hype. It’s cute, funny, and endearingly romantic.
The Love Wager releases on March 14th 2023. You order the novel here. Our thanks to Netgalley and Penguin Random House for the advanced reader’s copy.
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Verdict - 8.5/10