REVIEW: Love You, Mean it by Jilly Gagnon

Posted April 30th, 2024 by in Blog, Contemporary Romance, Review / 5 comments


In Love You, Mean it by Jilly Gagnon, Ellie Greco is proud (most days) to have taken over running her family’s Milborough, Massachusetts, Italian deli after the untimely death of her beloved father five years ago. She enjoys the camaraderie with her customers. She likes offering delicious food that brings people joy. But honestly, this was not the career Ellie had planned on. Leaving her dream of becoming a theatrical costume designer behind in NYC was tough. Although it was absolutely the right thing to do. Now, though, there’s the possibility that the deli could go under if rumors are correct that a huge gourmet food store, Mangia, could be moving into Milborough.

“Here’s what I’m proposing. You and I stay engaged for the time being. It won’t be easy, obviously… We’ll have an uphill battle convincing…well, anyone, really.”
“True. Everyone I know is aware of what I think of people like you,” I say between gritted teeth.
Theo’s eyebrow shot up in mute agreement.

Ellie’s meeting with Theo Taylor, a local real estate developer, to chat about the project goes awry from the word go. First, they butt heads. Then His Royal Preppyness shows his true colors…right before he unfortunately gets bonked on the head by falling metalwork in the old building and knocked out. Ellie finds herself at the hospital with Theo somehow pretending to be his fiancée. (It happened so quickly she doesn’t even understand it herself.) But after learning he has–hopefully temporary–amnesia, she keeps up the charade figuring she’s got nothing to lose. As Theo regains his memory, though, Ellie is shocked that he wants to keep pretending. Supposedly he’s on her side when it comes to keeping Mangia from buying the historic building in town and he thinks that as a team they can win the fight. However, when true emotions enter the picture and a real connection grows between them, Ellie and Theo might be in over their heads.

“This is a business arrangement, Ellie, nothing more. As my business partner, I owe you transparency on what affects our plan. I don’t owe you my life story.”

A “While You Were Sleeping” vibe–complete with amnesia and fake dating–propelled LOVE YOU, MEAN IT into a fun, heated romantic comedy where opposite-attract lead characters had way more in common than they realized.

‘This world, these people…I could never be a part of it. I’d suffocate inside of a week. And since that was true… What was I holding out for with Theo?’

While it sounds like LOVE YOU, MEAN IT is a departure from author Jilly Gagnon’s typical storyline, I’m glad to have started with this book as it showed her ability to pair together two people from different backgrounds convincingly. And she managed to infuse humor and sweet nostalgia throughout as well. I’m not saying there weren’t moments when I wanted to (lovingly) shake some sense into a few of the characters–Ellie and Ted, I’m looking at you–but overall, it was an entertaining romance that kept me smiling.

Some of my favorite parts turned out to be the conversations between Ellie and Theo. Well, Ellie and anyone, really, because she tended to be rather, ahem, outspoken. Not in a bad way. Theo as well wasn’t afraid to tell it like it was, so it made for some fiery dialogue that alternately had me laughing and inhaling a shocked breath. I really thought Theo and Ellie had a nice rapport. Even though they came from wildly different families and social standing, they both loved fiercely once you got under that tough exterior. Something that turned out to both help and hinder them depending on the situation.

The secondary cast was superb. Everyone from Ellie’s cousin Bella to her grandmother Mimi, and Theo’s ex-girlfriend Sam as well as Theo’s buddy Everett, they all got tangled up in the pair’s predicament. It was complex. But it felt like both main characters learned a whole lot about themselves by the book’s ending, with their friends and family helping them along the way as much as possible.

QOTD: Do you have any local family-owned delis or small shops you like to visit?

Book Info:

Publication: Published: April 30th, 2024 | Dell |

A playful romantic comedy featuring dueling delis, fake dating, a shockingly awesome ex, and just the right amount of amnesia.

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, Greco’s Deli’s very existence is suddenly in jeopardy.

She tries to plead her case to Theo Taylor, scion of the property management firm 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 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, 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-fiancé, reappears on the scene. Not only does she see through their ruse, she proposes an arrangement of her own, forcing Ellie to decide between blossoming friendship, her family legacy, and the burgeoning romance she frankly never asked for.



5 Responses to “REVIEW: Love You, Mean it by Jilly Gagnon”

  1. Amy R

    QOTD: Do you have any local family-owned delis or small shops you like to visit? Yes

  2. Glenda M

    There are several family owned businesses that I like to visit. Thanks so much for the review!

  3. psu1493

    No local family-owned restaurants nearby that I like to visit. This sounds like a good story.

  4. erahime

    No local deli or small shop visits that I frequent, but they are essential businesses. Thanks for the lovely review, Team HJ.