REVIEW: Happily Never After by Lynn Painter

Posted March 13th, 2024 by in Blog, Contemporary Romance, HJ Recommends, Review / 10 comments


In Happily Never After by Lynn Painter, Sophie Steinbeck has never really believed in the happily-ever-after type of love. But she thought she’d found a good compromise with her fiancé Stuart. They would be companions, best friends, and spend their lives together. Win-win. Until Sophie finds out Stuart cheated on her–again–just before their wedding day. Her solution might be out of the ordinary, but she hires an Objector. Someone who will stand up during the wedding and object, letting Sophie walk away without (hopefully) any fuss. One thing she didn’t count on was forming a friendship with the Objector, aka Max Parks. They have a great rapport from the start and even have similar views on love. So when they both figure out later on that they can milk the Objector side gig and even use their friendship to appear as if they’re dating to get family and friends off their backs, what could possibly go wrong?

‘How the hell had I fallen into a pit of feelings for Max when I’d worked so hard to keep my feet firmly planted on solid ground?’

Max knows his occasional side job is not for everyone. But after his own personal love life imploded a few years ago, this is his way of saving others from going through similar heartbreak. So after the dust settles post wedding for Sophie, and Max gets to know her a bit more, he realizes they make a great team. So much so that they work together at a couple more weddings, the whole-time remaining friends–okay, friends who have major chemistry together. Max swears he won’t let himself fall for Sophie. Their friendship means the world to him. But somewhere between them objecting at various weddings, fake dating, and having the best time ever together through every obstacle thrown their way, Max knows he’s done for. He’s fallen in love with Sophie. And that definitely wasn’t the plan.

“Love isn’t the problem. The problem is the way society promotes it as if it’s the only thing that matters in life when it doesn’t even exist.”
“I’d say, ‘Who hurt you’… but seeing as I was recently bitch-slapped by your ex-fiancé, I actually have the answer.”

Sparks of attraction flew, and lines got blurred in HAPPILY NEVER AFTER, Lynn Painter’s newest romantic comedy that will have readers alternately laughing out loud at the banter and fanning their face from the heat.

‘I was a cynic who had no interest in trying to find The One, but Sophie wasn’t a cynic at all. She was a nonbeliever.’

Reading a Lynn Painter book is *always* a good time. But HAPPILY NEVER AFTER took things up a notch with a fun premise–that had disaster written all over it for the main characters. Max and Sophie met in a very unique way. After she found out her fiancé cheated on her (again) she and her maid of honor hired Max to object at the wedding so she could call it off without her and her fiancé’s families getting into a scuffle. Funnily enough, Sophie and Max hit it off right away after that barely avoided disaster of a wedding. As friends. Strictly just friends. At first.

Needless to say, Max and Sophie’s relationship was a slow burn. Neither of them wanted a love match and instead they were looking for friendship from each other. The banter Painter created between them was hilarious and had me laughing until I had tears in my eyes. I loved how they just clicked, right from the start. It was definitely a great base for them to build upon, to go from friends to something much bigger–well, aside from Sophie not believing love was real and Max having been-there-done-that-not-going-to-do-it-again.

It was when Painter threw in fake dating that the heat level amped up and things went sideways for Sophie and Max. But oh, was it so worth it! Because the two of them had amazing chemistry. Their romantic scenes together were hot Hot HOT and superbly written, with a great mix of steam and emotion. It was also nice that while Max and Sophie sorted out their true feelings that obviously became involved in their relationship, they not only had each other’s backs, but they also kept the wonderful playfulness that was there between them from day one. Something that carried on through to their sweet and fun HEA.

QOTD: Have you ever been to a wedding where someone stood up and objected?

Book Info:

Publication: Published: March 12th, 2024 | Berkley |

Their name? The objectors.

Their job? To break off weddings as hired.

Their dilemma? They might just be in love with each other.

When Sophie Steinbeck finds out just before her nuptials that her fiancé has cheated yet again, she desperately wants to call it off. But because her future father-in-law is her dad’s cutthroat boss, she doesn’t want to be the one to do it. Her savior comes in the form of a professional objector, whose purpose is to show up at weddings and proclaim the words no couple (usually) wants to hear at their ceremony: “I object!”

During anti-wedding festivities that night, Sophie learns more about Max the Objector’s job. It makes perfect sense to her: he saves people from wasting their lives, from hurting each other. He’s a modern-day hero. And Sophie wants in.

The two love cynics start working together, going from wedding to wedding, and Sophie’s having more fun than she’s had in ages. She looks forward to every nerve-racking ceremony saving the lovesick souls of the betrothed masses. As Sophie and Max spend more time together, however, they realize that their physical chemistry is off the charts, leading them to dabble in a little hookup session or two—but it’s totally fine, because they definitely do not have feelings for each other. Love doesn’t exist, after all.

And then everything changes. A groom-to-be hires Sophie to object, but his fiancée is the woman who broke Max’s heart. As Max wrestles with whether he can be a party to his ex’s getting hurt, Sophie grapples with the sudden realization that she may have fallen hard for her partner in crime.



10 Responses to “REVIEW: Happily Never After by Lynn Painter”

  1. Amy R

    QOTD: Have you ever been to a wedding where someone stood up and objected? No
    Thanks for the review.

  2. Glenda M

    I have not been to a wedding where someone objected, but I did have a friend who said he was going to do it at his sister’s wedding. (He did not)
    Thanks so much for the review!

  3. Sue G.

    Loved this book! Such great banter!

    I have never been to a wedding where someone objected.

  4. psu1493

    This is a new author for me and this book sounds like a riot. No, I have never attended a wedding where someone objected, but I wish I had.

  5. erahime

    No objections to any weddings attended. But looking forward to reading this new book. Thanks for the lovely review, Team HJ.

  6. Texas Book Lover

    I’ve had my eye on this book. Now I really want to read it. Thanks.