Thursday, June 20, 2024

The Love Wager by Lynn Painter

The Love Wager
by Lynn Painter
Read by Kristen DiMercurio and Zachary Webber
7 hours
Published March 2023 by Penguin Publishing Group 

Publisher's Summary: 
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 onto the dating app that she has determined will find her new love, she sees none other than Jack, the guy whose room she snuck out of. 

After agreeing they are absolutely not interested in each other, Jack and Hallie realize they're each other's perfect wing-person in their 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 both struggle to remember why the other was a bad idea to begin with.

My Thoughts: 
A friend recently met Lynn Painter (can't remember where or how) and asked me, the next day, if I'd ever read any of her books. I said I hadn't but since she's from Omaha, I decided I should give her books a shot, even if they aren't a genre that I regularly read. What better time than summer to read a rom-com? 

What Didn't Work For Me: 
  • The great guy who's with a terrible woman (who he's poised to propose to in Chapter 1) is such a confusing trope for me. Painter has Jack explain this by saying that things just sort of progressed to that point because it felt like that should be what came next. But seriously, how? Wouldn't he have wised up to what kind of person she was LONG before it came to an engagement? 
  • Both the almost-became-Mrs. Jack and a former classmate of Hallie's that we meet in the first chapter are terrible human beings. I felt like the same result could have been reached without making these women such reprehensible people. 
  • I was never clear why Hallie and Jack decided they couldn't date when they found each other on a dating app.
  • Ok, this is going to make me sound prudish, but the sex. Not that they had sex. Just that in the first chapter, things were largely left to our imaginations (although we learned a lot about what had happened as the book went on) and the focus was really on the friendship (and they way each of them begins to realize they have feelings for the other one but don't want to mess up the friendship so don't say anything). Then, suddenly, it's all about the hot, steamy sex that the two have one weekend while they are "pretend" dating at Hallie's sister's wedding. 
  • The narrating. I really enjoyed having the dual narrators and both readers were solid. 
What I Liked: 
  • While these two main characters had plenty of faults (Hallie actually moved out of an apartment she shared while the roommate was out of town without telling the roommate), I felt like they both showed some growth as the book went on. 
  • I really enjoyed the banter between the two characters. I found it witty and fun and would have enjoyed more of it. 
  • You know that the two will end up together in the end and you know that something will come up that will cause a deep rift before that can happen (and you even know well before it happens what it will be) and it still worked for me. 
I'll confess: I did look at Goodreads review before I wrote this and the reviews are largely very good (although a handful of people really disliked this one). I imagine a good many of them are fans of the genre in general and more are fans of Painter's in particular. So, while there was a lot that didn't work for me in this one, there was enough to like to make me consider trying another of her books. Those reviews that praised the book (and even some that didn't) recommended others of her book as better. So I'll give her another shot. In fact, I've just put another of Painter's books on hold. 

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