Monday, April 29, 2024

Book Review: Love You, Mean It

By Melissa Smoot

Ellie Greco wishes she weren’t stuck in Milborough. For a few brief, shining years, she escaped her hometown to pursue her dream career—designing beautiful, elaborate costumes for theater—until her father's death five years ago called her home to run the family's decades-old deli. Yes, she loves the place, but she’d always thought she was meant for more exciting things than stocking the right tinned fish. But when Ellie hears that a local landlord is planning to rent to Mangia, the glitzy gourmet food department store, the very existence of Greco’s Deli is suddenly in jeopardy.

She tries to plead her case to Theo Taylor, scion of the property management firm that is about to put her out of business, but their meeting goes from bad (it’s not her fault he’s infuriating) to worse (no one expects the ceiling to literally fall in).

With Theo out cold, Ellie panics and claims to be his fiancée . . . and almost passes out herself when amnesia means Theo seems to actually believe her. Soon, the effects of the head injury wear off, but Theo proposes that their “engagement” stick around. If they manage to convince enough people, they might both get what they want: an end to the Mangia deal. Ellie doesn’t trust him (after all, if Theo Taylor wants it, how can it be good for her?) but seeing no other option, she reluctantly agrees.

And miraculously, the fake engagement seems to be working—even Ted, Theo’s shrewd, cold father seems convinced—that is, until Sam, Theo’s ex-fiancée, reappears on the scene. Not only does she see through their ruse, but she proposes an arrangement of her own, forcing Ellie to decide between a blossoming friendship, her family legacy, and the burgeoning romance she frankly never asked for. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

This story was so good, from start to finish. I originally chose to review this book because the title stuck out to me immediately. Something I have often said to my friends and family over the last decade is “Love you, mean it!”, so it seemed like a book I was being called to read. I loved the backstory of the Italian deli that had been Ellie’s family for generations, and how it helped to shape the entire narrative. The author did such a great job of really getting into the thick of the main characters personalities and emotions. I could feel the tension, the conflict, and the electricity between Ellie and Theo. 

The theme of enemies-to-lovers is not a new one, but I enjoyed how Gagnon was able to weave such a rich and comprehensive story, so that I never felt that I was missing something. Every detail was perfect, and I was completely immersed in Ellie and Theo’s story. It was almost a modern version of Romeo and Juliet (without the tragic endings) with the two being from completely different worlds. The characters were relatable but also had that extra gumption that everyone roots for in an unlikely love match. This was just such a heartfelt and sweet story, with a lot of humor, that you would be missing out on if you didn’t get the chance to read it.

Thanks to Random House for the book in exchange for an honest review. Purchase Love You, Mean It here.

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