The Love Wager

Lynn Painter (Mr. Wrong Number) provides the perfect rom-com escape in The Love Wager, a trope-driven romance that will remind readers, as they laugh themselves to tears, why they love the genre. Hallie and Jack hit it off while she's tending bar at his sister's wedding, and they spend a passionate night together before she sneaks out the next morning. That night kicks off a fresh start for Hallie, but when she spots Jack's profile on a dating app, she sends him a purely friendly message. After commiserating about the dating scene, they agree to wing-person for each other and, as extra motivation to keep slogging through the dating mire, Jack and Hallie make a bet: whoever falls in love first gets an amazing prize.

Painter cleverly reveals her characters' compatibility with humor and charm as they go on many failed dates, provide support for each other and generally have a good time together. By the time Jack agrees to go with Hallie to her sister's wedding as her fake boyfriend, readers will be itching for the two to finally figure it out. Painter builds a foundation of friendship under the characters' immediate physical chemistry and, though their pent-up attraction does bubble over into a couple of open-door scenes, the focus is always on how Hallie and Jack make each other--and readers--laugh. As Jack and Hallie find their happily-ever-after, readers will feel like they themselves have won The Love Wager. --Suzanne Krohn, librarian and freelance reviewer

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