TO SIR, WITH LOVE by Lauren Layne

From the publisher:

Love Is Blind meets You’ve Got Mail in this laugh-out-loud romantic comedy following two thirty-somethings who meet on a blind dating app—only to realize that their online chemistry is nothing compared to their offline rivalry.

Perpetually cheerful and eager to please, Gracie Cooper strives to make the best out of every situation. So when her father dies just months after a lung cancer diagnosis, she sets aside her dreams of pursuing her passion for art to take over his Midtown Manhattan champagne shop. She soon finds out that the store’s profit margins are being squeezed perilously tight, and complicating matters further, a giant corporation headed by the impossibly handsome, but irritatingly arrogant Sebastian Andrews is proposing a buyout. But Gracie can’t bear the thought of throwing away her father’s dream like she did her own.

Overwhelmed and not wanting to admit to her friends or family that she’s having second thoughts about the shop, Gracie seeks advice and solace from someone she’s never met—the faceless “Sir”, with whom she connected on a blind dating app where matches get to know each other through messages and common interests before exchanging real names or photos.

But although Gracie finds herself slowly falling for Sir online, she has no idea she’s already met him in real life…and they can’t stand each other.

One of Cosmopolitan’s 20 Books You’re Going To Want To Read This Summer


Any story loosely based on You’ve Got Mail is getting my attention; it’s one of my favorite movies. If you are not familiar (and have been living under a rock for decades? Or just hate romcoms? Then why are you even reading this?) it is a movie based on another movie, The Shop Around the Corner, and both stories are about a couple who write each other (emails/letters) but haven’t met and don’t know each other’s names, etc. In real life, the couple has met and hates each other. So they basically fall in love over email, and eventually one of them learns who the other is and works hard to overcome the obstacles and get their happy ending.

This story is an updated version, moving to messaging through a dating app instead of email. This is an unusual dating app, the sort of antithesis of Tinder. Instead of swiping on pictures, there are no pictures at all. People “meet” and develop a written relationship, then choosing whether or not to meet.

The other part of the story that carries through all these iterations is the setting and cause for the hate is a retail shop; first is a general store, then a bookstore, now a champagne store. Gracie took over her parents’ shop when she lost her father. Her siblings weren’t interested and while Gracie secretly yearns to be an artist, she feels a responsibility to keep her parents’ dream alive. But then she starts getting letters from the landlord, requesting to buy out the remaining years of the lease. Gracie can’t deal with it, so she keeps tossing the letters into the trash.

Meanwhile, she is on this new blind dating app and messaging with a man she calls Sir – no names, no personal information. But his messages are the highlight of her day, and he feels the same way. They keep messaging but haven’t met.

When Sebastian, the landlord, shows up in the champagne store, Gracie knows she can’t put it off any longer. She lets him know in no uncertain terms that she is not giving up the lease, no matter what enticements he is offering. It doesn’t help that he is gorgeous, and there is a strong attraction between them. But she is determined to keep the store going, despite the fact that she is struggling to make ends meet. Sebastian keeps showing up at the different events Gracie is throwing in hopes of drumming up more business, and she can’t help but start falling for him, despite the problems he is causing her.

So while the online couple is growing closer, the real life couple is seriously butting heads. There are a lot of laughs here in this is a super fun read. If you don’t love You’ve Got Mail, there is a lot to love here. The main characters are well developed and grow as the story progresses, and the secondary characters play their supporting roles beautifully. As their virtual and real lives start to collide, you can’t help rooting for their happy ending. Don’t miss this entertaining and satisfying read.

7/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

TO SIR, WITH LOVE by Lauren Layne. Gallery Books (June 29, 2021). ISBN: 978-1982152819. 288 pages.

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