The Love Wager

Last year, Lynn Painter‘s Mr. Wrong Number was a popular contemporary romance, and rightfully so. This week, the series continues with her new novel, The Love Wager. This friends-to-lovers romance follows Jack and Hallie as they navigate dating app dates and wedding parties, all while denying their obvious feelings for each other. It’s a cute and fun love story that will make you laugh and swoon.

Special thanks to the publicists at Penguin Random House and to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book!


Jack and Hallie first meet under memorable circumstances: She witnesses his breakup with his girlfriend, which itself includes a non-proposal and a drink in her face. Afterwards, Jack and Hallie have a one-night-stand… but then decide to go their separate ways. Soon they reconnect on a dating app, and having both decided the other is not HEA material, they instead strike up a friendship. The kind of friendship that involves constant texts and laugh-out-loud banter and quickly transforms them into BFFs.

To give each other added motivation in the dating scene, Jack and Hallie make a friendly wager to see who can find love first; they also meet up after each failed blind date. But neither is ready to acknowledge, let alone reveal, their growing feelings for the other. Neither wants to ruin their friendship, and so they push down any feelings of love. Will these two hopeless fools ever realize that they’ve already found The One?


The Love Wager is a ton of fun from the first chapter. From the time Jack and Hallie first meet at his sister’s wedding, they have an instant connection based on silly banter and some sexual chemistry. Despite that latter quality, though, they decide that they need to look elsewhere for love. Instead, they put their one-night-stand behind them and quickly develop a close friendship.

It only gets sweeter as the two decide to bring mutual motivation on their respective searches for The One. Hallie and Jack each go on blind dates with people they meet on a dating app (and even try speed dating once!), but they’re always ready to hang out afterwards and go over the pros and cons of their respective dates. It seems like supportive friendship, but they both look forward more to their post-date activities than to the dates themselves. Can neither one of them see what’s really going on here?!

Unlike some romances, which can get into some rather heavy topics, The Love Wager mostly keeps things light. Yes, Jack is sad about losing his favorite uncle and his recent breakup. Yes, Hallie went through a bad breakup a year ago that gave her some doubts about her worth. But neither of those background elements ever grows too central here. Jack and Hallie have their pasts, but in general they’re each lighthearted and full of life.

Things move from best-friends-helping-each-other-date-others to the famed fake dating trope. There’s also the only-one-bed trope, which is discussed by the characters in a delightfully meta manner. The biggest issue is how Jack and Hallie can pursue a romantic relationship without destroying their friendship. Of course, they both think that’s impossible.

I love the recurring theme of Pride and Prejudice (the 2005 movie version, yay!), the presence of cats (hello, Mr. Meowgi and Tigger), and the utter randomness of Hallie’s roommate Ruthie. Those who have read Mr. Wrong Number will also enjoy seeing Olivia and Colin here, both giving Jack some unwanted opinions and conflicting advice.

It could be argued that this book largely depends on the dreaded miscommunication trope, and yet here, it makes sense. Who hasn’t been afraid to unveil their deepest feelings and most vulnerable self? And in any case, Hallie and Jack are a ton of fun, from their constant texting to his nickname for her: Tiny Bartender, TB for short. They’re breezy and fit perfectly together, even through the ups and downs they encounter between his sister’s wedding and her sister’s wedding.

Final Thoughts

The Love Wager is an adorable and funny romance. It’s my first time reading Lynn Painter, but I will absolutely continue this series—starting with Mr. Wrong Number (yes, I failed to read the first book before reading the second, oops!) before her next one, The Objectors, comes out in 2024.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Get the Book

You can buy The Love Wager here – it’s available as a paperback, ebook, and audiobook.

The Love Wager by Lynn Painter
SeriesMr. Wrong Number (#2)
GenreContemporary Romance
SettingNebraska; Colorado; Minnesota
Number of Pages320
Format I Readebook (NetGalley)
Original Publication DateMarch 14, 2023

Official 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 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.

About the Author

Lynn Painter

Lynn Painter is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author who writes romantic comedies for both teens and adults. She lives in Nebraska with her husband and pack of wild children, and when she isn’t reading or writing, odds are good she’s guzzling energy drinks and watching rom-coms. 

More Books by Lynn Painter

Lynn Painter - Mr. Wrong Number
Lynn Painter - Accidentally Amy
Lynn Painter - Better Than the Movies

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