Review: To Sir, with Love by Lauren Layne

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

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 five 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 to turn the store into a parking garage. 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.

I received a copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley and Edelweiss.

To Sir, with Love publishes June 29, 2021

There is nothing like a Lauren Layne book to break you out of a book rut and uplift your mood. Her books are often among my most anticipated of the year and To Sir, with Love did not disappoint. I really loved it!

The premise of the story is a familiar one. Two people who meet and start off on the wrong foot with each other don’t realize that they’ve just met the person they’ve been anonymously corresponding with.  In this case, they’ve been messaging as “Sir” and “Lady” on a photo free dating app when Sebastian comes into Gracie’s fledgling champagne shop offering to buy out the remainder of the lease. An offer she resents, letting that resentment transfer over to Sebastian. 

Sebastian begins to win her over, though, and I loved watching it unfold. Their animosity towards each other pops up occasionally, but didn’t overshadow all the cute moments going on. I was definitely shipping Sebastian and Gracie and was anxiously waiting for them to figure things out. Speaking of which, I really enjoyed the chat excerpts between them that were interspersed throughout the story. There was some good banter that I always enjoy. I do have to say, though, that since it’s obvious to the reader that Sebastian and Sir are the same person, I got a little annoyed at Gracie for taking so long to figure it out. All of the times she’s debating about her feelings between Sir and Sebastian seemed a little fruitless to me. However, it eventually all comes to light in a very sweet scene, so it still worked for me.

Another thing I really liked about this story is that the romance falls more on the sweet side. Those that are familiar with Layne’s other books know that she often includes a couple of explicit love scenes, but there aren’t any here and it made me like the book even more. 

In addition to to the romance, I loved the friendships and family dynamics. Gracie’s friend and neighbor, Keva, was funny and I wouldn’t mind seeing a book about her in the future. I also enjoyed Gracie’s siblings, Caleb and Lily, and I loved Lily’s husband, Alec. They were so supportive of Gracie and I liked seeing them grow closer. 

If there is one thing that I didn’t really care for, though, it’s the title of the book. It’s also the title of a movie. At first I thought this was supposed to be based on the movie, but it isn’t at all. I understand how the title works for the book, but I maybe would have changed a word so there would be no confusion in trying to compare it to the movie. 

Overall, I really loved To Sir, with Love. It was such a sweet story and I enjoyed every minute I was reading it. The characters were likable and the romance was shippable. I was feeling like I was in a book slump when I started this book and it pulled me out of it. Rom-Com fans will definitely want to add this to their TBR list for this summer!

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

WWW Wednesday: February 3, 2021

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WWW Wednesday is hosted by Taking on a World of Words.

What did you recently finish reading?

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To Sir, with Love by Lauren Layne. I loved it!

What are you currently reading?

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People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry. I’ve only just started, but this is adorable so far.

What do you think you’ll read next?

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I’m not sure, but I might continue with reading through my ARCs and go with Such a Quiet Place by Megan Miranda.

What are you reading?

WWW Wednesday: January 20, 2021

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WWW Wednesday is hosted by Taking on a World of Words.

What did you recently finish reading?

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A Temporary Marriage (Fake Love #1) by Summer Dowell. This was cute, but only 3 stars for me. I do plan on trying out the other books in the series, though.

What are you currently reading?

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The Happy Camper by Melody Carlson. I’ve done a lot of skimming so far. I really wanted to like it, but it will most likely be my next DNF.

What do you think you’ll read next?

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I’m really not sure, but I might go with an ARC. My next scheduled one is The Minders by John Marrs, but I just got approved for To Sir, With Love by Lauren Layne and will most likely jump out of order and go with that one.

What are you reading?

Reviewing the Unreviewed: September 2020

I read a lot of books that I don’t end up reviewing for whatever reason. Some because I wasn’t impressed. Some because I didn’t have the time. Some I just wasn’t feeling it on whatever particular day I finished. Reviewing the Unreviewed is my monthly post where I share my few thoughts on all the books I didn’t formally review.

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The Rural Diaries by Hilarie Burton Morgan. Read August 29 – September 1. 4 Stars.

I enjoyed this. I thought Hilarie’s journey from teen drama star to small-town farmer\occasional actress was really interesting. Though I definitely respect all of the work she and her husband have put into their relationship, I have to say it came across as pretty dysfunctional most of the time. He mostly came across as self-centered and controlling to me, following all of his hollywood dreams while she either took care of things at home or just followed him around. I did think she downplayed a lot of the acting jobs she took, though. And she seemed happy with her life, so I’ll try not to judge.

While I think the tone of the book was supposed to be kind of inspirational about how you can do anything you put your mind to, there wasn’t much said about how everything they did was possible because of how wealthy they are. Overall, though, I thought she came across as likable and relatable and this was an enjoyable read.

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Yours to Keep (Man of the Year #2) by Lauren Layne. Read September 3-6. 4 Stars. 

I am always happy when a new Lauren Layne book comes out. This was cute and bantery and fun. I really liked both Carter and Olive and loved watching as their friendship evolved into more. I also liked that it was set mostly in a cute, small town. Most of Layne’s books these days are set in NYC with super rich, polished characters and it was a nice change to see a quirky high school teacher as the lead.

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Dating Mr. Darcy (Love Manor #1) by Kate O’Keeffee. Read September 8-9. 3.5 Stars.

This was pretty cute. I liked the dating reality show concept. I liked the romance, but thought it could have been developed a little more. It felt like they only had a couple real interactions before they were “in love.” I’d be interested in reading more from this, author.

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Steal Home (The Sweet Magnolias #1) by Sherryl Woods. Read September 8-11. 3 Stars.

I wanted to read this ever since watching the Netflix show. I enjoyed it for the most part. I liked watching Maddie navigate her divorce and becoming a single parent and her new relationship with Cal. I liked the romance, even if it was a little fast. I kind of skimmed through a lot of the rest of it, though. In the show, I really liked the friendship between Maddie and her two best friends, but they kind of annoyed me here. They weren’t really given much to do besides encourage Maddie to go into business with them and pursue a relationship with Cal (though, the next couple of books in the series shifts the focus to them, so I’m sure the character development will improve).

Since I’ve already watched the show, I have to point out some of the differences. The show made Noreen a much more sympathetic character than the book did. There were several plotlines on the show with Maddie’s kids and I have to say I’m not mad that most of them didn’t exist in the book. I thought Book Cal was a lot sweeter than Show Cal, but I thought Show Maddie was more likable than Book Maddie.

I’m looking forward to watching season two, but I don’t see myself reading more of this series, even though I mostly enjoyed this one.

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Not My Romeo (The Game Changers #1) by Ilsa Madden-Mills. Read September 12-13. 3.5 Stars.

I actually enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would. The characters were likable and I loved the small town atmosphere. I thought Jack was really sweet, if a little unbelievable. There were several more graphic scenes than I generally appreciate, but that was one of the only things that brought it down for me.

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Loathe Thy Neighbor (Roommate Romps #1) by Teagan Hunter. Read September 17-27. 2 Stars. 

This wasn’t for me. There were some funny parts, which Hunter always does well, but the story itself was pretty ‘meh’. I didn’t like the main character and I didn’t even really ship the romance.

*****Books with Future Reviews Scheduled*****

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The Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell – 2.5 Stars

Love Your Life by Sophie Kinsella – 3 Stars

WWW Wednesday: September 2, 2020

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WWW Wednesday is hosted by Taking on a World of Words.

What did you recently finish reading?

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The Switch by Beth O’Leary. I enjoyed this one. Look out for my short review next week.

What are you currently reading?

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The Nesting by C.J. Cooke. Honestly, I kind of feel like I’ve read this story so many times before. I’m not really into it and it might be DNF-ed.

The Rural Diaries by Hilarie Burton Morgan. I’m enjoying this so far. I was hoping for a little more One Tree Hill dirt, but I’m ok with the direction it’s gone instead.

What do you think you’ll read next?

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Yours to Keep (Man of the Year #2) by Lauren Layne. This just came out and it’s on KU.

What are you reading?

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

BEST BOOK YOU’VE READ YET IN 2020

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The Heir Affair (The Royal We #2) by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan and Beach Read by Emily Henry.

BEST SEQUEL YOU’VE READ SO FAR IN 2020

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Since I already mentioned The Heir Affair, I’ll go with Wild at Heart (The Simple Wild #2) by K.A. Tucker.

NEW RELEASE YOU HAVEN’T READ YET BUT WANT TO

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The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins. I actually bought this just after it came out, but still haven’t read it.

MOST ANTICIPATED RELEASE FOR THE SECOND HALF OF THE YEAR

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The Silent Wife (Will Trent #10) by Karin Slaughter

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

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Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier. I’m in the minority here, but it didn’t come close to living up to my expectations. It read a lot more like Women’s Fiction than Mystery/Thriller to me.

BIGGEST SURPRISE

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The F List by Alessandra Torree. I expected nothing from this, but LOVED it.

FAVORITE NEW AUTHOR

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Karla Sorensen

NEWEST FICTIONAL CRUSH

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Dallas from Wait For It by Mariana Zapata.

NEWEST FAVORITE CHARACTER

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Caden from Anti-Stepbrother by Tijan.

BOOK THAT MADE YOU CRY

I don’t think I’ve cried at any books yet this year. My cold, black heart remains intact.

BOOK THAT MADE YOU HAPPY

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The Honey-Don’t List by Christina Lauren.

FAVORITE BOOK TO FILM ADAPTATION

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So I haven’t actually read these books, but I did enjoy the Netflix show that’s based on the books by Sherryl Woods- The Sweet Magnolias

MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOK YOU’VE BOUGHT THIS YEAR

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I actually do not buy a lot of books. I did pick up The Simple Wild ebook when it was on sale, though.

WHAT BOOKS DO YOU NEED TO READ BY THE END OF THE YEAR

Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell

Midnight Sun (Twilight #5) by Stephenie Meyer

Outsider (Kate Burkholder #12) by Linda Castillo

Yours to Keep (Man of the Year #2) by Lauren Layne

Top Ten Tuesday: Books that Turned my Cold, Black Heart to Mush

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, is a “Love freebie”. I decided to go to with Books that Turned my Black Heart to Mush. I don’t generally consider myself a “romantic” person, but there are some books that have such shippable, cute romance that it makes my cold, black heart melt a little.

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1. Dear Aaron by Mariana Zapata

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2. From Lukov with Love by Mariana Zapata

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3. Making Faces by Amy Harmon

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4. The Next Best Thing by Kristan Higgins

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5.  Marriage on Madison Avenue by Lauren Layne

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6. On the Fence by Kasie West

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7. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

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8. Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg

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9. Just One of the Groomsmen by Cindi Madsen

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10.  When It’s Real by Erin Watt

Review: Marriage on Madison Avenue (Central Park Pact #3) by Lauren Layne

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Layne, comes the final installment of the Central Park Pact series, a heartfelt and laugh-out-loud romantic comedy that’s perfect for fans of Sally Thorne and Christina Lauren.

Can guys and girls ever be just friends? According to Audrey Tate and Clarke West, absolutely. After all, they’ve been best friends since childhood without a single romantic entanglement. Clarke is the charming playboy Audrey can always count on, and he knows that the ever-loyal Audrey will never not play along with his strategy for dodging his matchmaking mother—announcing he’s already engaged…to Audrey.

But what starts out as a playful game between two best friends turns into something infinitely more complicated, as just-for-show kisses begin to stir up forbidden feelings. As the faux wedding date looms closer, Audrey and Clarke realize that they can never go back to the way things were, but deep down, do they really want to?

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

Marriage on Madison Avenue will be available January 28, 2020. 

I loved, loved, loved this! Few things make me happier than a cute Lauren Layne book and Marriage on Madison Avenue is one of her best yet.

Since their first scene together in the first book of the series, I have been wanting Audrey and Clarke’s story and it did not disappoint! This is both a Friends-to-More and Fake Relationship story, which is a combination of my favorite romantic tropes. I loved Audrey and Clarke’s friendship and I loved watching them realize their feelings for each other were more than that. Everything that happened was pretty predictable, but I enjoyed every moment of it anyways.

I thought Audrey and Clarke were both really likable characters and I was happy to see them get a happy ending. I also loved seeing the couples from the previous books, though I maintain that Naomi is much better in small doses. In addition to spending more time with the characters from this series, a few characters from Layne’s other series make appearances, which was quite fun.

Overall, I loved Marriage on Madison Avenue. I loved the characters, the romance, and the fake relationship aspects of the story. This was an enjoyable series and I think Layne definitely saved the best for last. I will miss these characters, but I look forward to whatever Layne writes next.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Top Ten Tuesday: My Favorite Kindle Unlimited Books of 2019

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is about books you hope to find under your Christmas tree, but I decided to change it up and do My top ten favorite Kindle Unlimited Books I read in 2019. I’ve had 3 different 2-3 month subscriptions of KU this year. I only sign up for it when I can get a good deal on it (they’ve ranged from 2 months for free to 3 months for $1.99) and that is usually when I get all my cheesy or angsty contemporaries in – but sometimes I come across a book I really enjoyed and that’s what this list is for.

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1., 2., & 3. R.S. Grey is the big Kindle Unlimited winner for me. I’ve read several of her books through KU, but these three are the ones that really stood out to me: Hotshot DocNot So Nice GuyThe Allure of Julian LeFray.

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4. Huge Deal (21 Wall Street #3) by Lauren Layne

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5. The Stand-in Boyfriend by Emma Doherty

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6. Let’s Get Textual by Teagan Hunter. This was actually a re-read for me – and that’s how much I love it!

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7. & 8.  Girl at Heart by Kelly Oram and One of the Girls by Robin Daniels. 2 authors, 1 series, and some seriously adorable YA romance.

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9. A Killer’s Mind by Mike Omer.

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10. Faking Under the Mistletoe by Ashley Shepherd.

Have you uncovered any gems in Kindle Unlimted?

Reviewing the Unreviewed: October 2019

I read a lot of books that I don’t end up reviewing for whatever reason. Some because I wasn’t impressed. Some because I didn’t have the time. Some I just wasn’t feeling it on whatever particular day I finished. Reviewing the Unreviewed is my monthly post where I share my few thoughts on all the books I didn’t formally review.

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The Long Call (Two Rivers #1) by Ann Cleeves. Read September 28-30 (yes this was September, but it was after I posted my September installment of Reviewing the Unreviewed). 3 Stars. 

I found this a pretty average mystery. It was very character driven, which is fine, but the pace seemed soooo slow. It did pick up towards the end, though. The main characters were likable enough, but not really memorable. It was a decent read, but I’m not sure if I’m interested enough to continue the series.

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The Broken Girls by Simone St. James. Read October 4-6. 3 Stars. 

This was ok, but not what I expected. I didn’t think the alternate timelines were used that well, nor did I think we really needed POVs from all four girls in the past. I thought the story was a little too long and large parts of it were too unbelievable. And the most unbelievable wasn’t even the ghost parts (which made me take the whole book way less seriously, as well)

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Reveal Me (Shatter Me #5.5) by Tahereh Mafi. Read October 13-14. 2 Stars.

Did we really need another novella full of Kenji’s feelings? Honestly, getting his POV just makes me like him a little less.

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The Bridal Party by J.G. Murray. Read October 15-16. 2 Stars. 

There was so much potential for this story, but it failed to reach it. The events weren’t very feasible and the big reveal wasn’t at all surprising. I was still holding out for a fun twist at the end, but there wasn’t one and it was just kind of depressing instead.

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The Burning Shadow (Origin #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout. October 17-19. 3 Stars. 

This was ok, but I can’t really say much more for it than that. It was much too long and repetitive and I was bored for large parts of it. There were also thinly veiled political analogies between unregistered Luxens and undocumented immigrants and I found it a little annoying. There were multiple scenes of the main character yelling at protesters that just kind of felt like wish fulfillment from the author. And I’m not saying that’s bad, but I feel like everything that is wrong in the country comes down to two sides yelling names at each other instead of trying to talk and work things out. It’s so unproductive and I get enough of that in real life. I did enjoy getting more Luc, though, and I liked the romance, which is what JLA is always good at. I also liked the cameos from the Lux series. There was more of all the characters I love than the last book had, so that helped make up for some of the boredom.

*****DNF*****

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After the Flood by Kassandra Montag. DNF at 9%. I wasn’t too impressed after I started this, so I set it down to read something else. Two weeks later and I just have no interest in picking it back up again.

Rain Will Come by Thomas Holgate. DNF @ 4%. Sometimes you know right away if you’re not going to click with a story and that was my experience with this book. The first chapter was enough to make me not like the main character – mainly because some of the events remind me a lot of my father. The writing style didn’t really mesh with me either. However, I will say that the reviews I’ve seen so far for this book are pretty positive, so this is probably just a case of not being the right book for me.

*****Books with Future Reviews Scheduled*****

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Lake Season (Bluebell Inn Romance #1) by Denise Hunter – 2.5/5 Stars

Meet Me on Love Lane (Hopeless Romantics #2) by Nina Bocci – 3/5 Stars

Ninth House (Alex Stern #1) by Leigh Bardugo – 2/5 Stars

The Dead Girls Club by Damien Angelica Walters – 2.5/5 Stars

Reputation by Sara Shepard – 3.5/5 Stars

The Wives by Tarryn Fisher – 3/5 Stars

Yours in Scandal (Man of the Year #1) by Lauren Layne – 4/5 Stars