Monday, November 18, 2013

The Wager by Rachel Van Dyken

Title: The Wager
Author: Rachel Van Dyken
Published: October 1, 2013
Series?: The Bet #2
Format Read/Pages: ebook/256
How/When I Acquired It: NetGalley / September, 2013
Date Finished: November 18, 2013

Lose a bet, lose your heart...

What is it about a junior-high crush that can send an otherwise intelligent woman into a tailspin? TV reporter Char Lynn wishes she knew. Jake Titus is too rich, too handsome, too arrogant: a trifecta that once lured Char into the best night-and worst morning-after-of her life. Now they've been thrown together in a wedding party. It's awkward, but survivable . . . until Jake stops acting like a jerk, and starts acting like the man she'd always hoped he could be.

If watching your brother marry your best friend is weird, being attracted to your best friend's other best friend is downright bizarre. Unfortunately for Jake, Char hasn't forgotten how he once tossed her aside. Worse still, Jake's already-nutty grandma is even crazier about Char. Cue meet-cute shenanigans and all manner of meddling, and somehow, Jake's falling. For Char. Now all he has to do is make her believe it . .

When starting The Wager, I was mildly afraid that I would not follow the complete story, not having read The Bet. I should not have had any fears, there are a few references that were unclear, but overall the author, Rachel Van Dyken, made the plot very easy to follow. Possibly too easy.

The characters are likable in their own ways. Jake Titus, constantly referred to as a “ruined” man, is trying to make amends and redeem himself of past deeds. Char Lynn, the TV personality trying to bring herself back from the brink of unemployment after a stunt that left her too hung-over to stay seated during a newscast (thanks, in part, to Jake). Comic relief comes in the form of Grandma Nadine, the over manipulative and meddling woman that is the Titus matriarch. While I do hope my own Grandmother is as spry and energetic at 86 years as Grandma Nadine is, there would definitely be some problems if she was as invested in my life as Nadine was.

The story follows the formulaic model that many romances have come to resemble in the past few years, wealthy character (usually male), is trying to reform their life, wants character (usually female) that seems to be holding a grudge  (not uncommon for the reason to be unknown to the reformed party). While this model can be entertaining, it often gets old and predictable after so many versions.

Speaking of predictability, I almost put the book down and gave up on it after Jake and Char procured an unsigned marriage license. Please can we at least have characters that use their college educated brains? Obviously that would not happen in the real world, not only is it illegal (I am pretty sure that is mentioned in the story) but it is also very implausible that the marriage license would not be ready, especially given the high profile wedding that is taking place. After seeing the gullibility of the characters I knew what was coming for them, essentially an arranged marriage, without the dowry and binding contracts. And then for the characters to just sign a paper without reading it? Nope. I just wanted to shake them and knock some sense into them, especially Jake, who is supposed to be a big shot in the family company, even though Grandma recently fired him… but he should know better than signing a document without reading it!

For all its misgivings The Wager was a fun, light read centered around a man and woman attending the wedding of those they are closest with and being thrown together in a manipulative matchmaking ploy. It is the type of story that any romance junky will likely enjoy.

3 Stars

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