Hallie Piper is turning over a new leaf. After belly-crawling out of a hotel room (hello, rock bottom), she decides it’s time to become a full-on adult.
She gets a new apartment, a new haircut, and a new wardrobe, but when she logs into the dating app that she has determined will find her new love, she sees none other than Jack, the guy whose room she’d snuck out of.
Through the app, and after the joint agreement that they are absolutely not interested in each other, Jack and Hallie become partners in their respective searches for The One. They text each other about their dates, often scheduling them at the same restaurant so that if things don’t go well, the two of them can get tacos afterward.
Spoiler: they get a lot of tacos together.
Discouraged by the lack of prospects, Jack and Hallie make a wager to see who can find true love first, but when they agree to be fake dates for a weekend wedding, all bets are off.
As they pretend to be a couple, lines become blurred and they each struggle to remember why the other was a bad idea to begin with.
Title: The Love Wager (Mr. Wrong Number, #2)
Author: Lynn Painter
Publication Date: March 14, 2023
Genres: Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Painter’s second adult novel was a great follow up to Mr. Wrong Number. It was a dual pov friends to lovers with plenty of banter to keep you laughing, a fake dating/one bed wedding situation, and that Lynn Painter sparkle that always reels me in.
I’m not sure I’ve ever read about a set of characters with more sizzling chemistry. They just played off each other so well, I could see why they were best friends to begin with. They had superb texting banter, so many fun outings, and knew exactly what to say to get the other to smile and laugh.
And Jack! I did not expect him to be so charming. It was interesting going from knowing him as Olivia’s older brother and Collin’s best friend to having him as the love interest. We see him through a very different set of eyes and this set of eyes thinks he’s funny and handsome and charming rather than an annoying big brother.
There was a bit of realness missing from them, I think. They briefly addressed some of the internal problems they were having, Hallie had some baggage from her past relationship. Jack had some baggage from his uncle’s death and misperception of relationships. I would have liked a little more introspection as to how these things were really affecting their romantic relationship with each other. These things were mentioned in passing, but I would have liked a deep dive during the third act into why these problems were there and how they were going to be overcome.
Also, I wouldn’t have minded some mystery in their feelings for each other. That angst and pining weren’t quite there and I think if they would have been, this would have been a five-star read.
And can I just say…Pride and Prejudice and Mr. Smith. You could not have won me over with anything else.
Disclaimer: I voluntarily read and reviewed a gifted and advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.