I liked this, but not nearly as much as I wanted to. I don’t think I knew this was a You’ve Got Mail retelling when I put this on my TBR, but maybe I did and I’ve just forgotten. Either way, it took me by surprise when the references started piling up: There’s a dog named Brinkley, a woman who owns a bookshop she inherited from her mother and who has a picture of her mother on the counter of the two of them dancing; the love interest threatening her business but simultaneously coming in with her niece to pick out books without telling her who she is, etc. Full lines were imported as well. (“It’s not personal, it’s business.” “It’s personal to me.”) Honestly, I love You’ve Got Mail; it’s one of my favorite movies of all time, but this was way too much. Instead of the references filling me with glee, they made me roll my eyes.
Thank goodness the story switched from a straight retelling to more of a reimagining about a third of the way through. This had its downsides, though, too. The main conflict and source of tension (the tension which keeps a reader wondering what will happen next, or eagerly anticipating the next shift in character dynamics) was completely deflated when Jane (our Tom Hanks equivalent, here a fledgling lesbian romance writer, currently working for her dad’s business) confesses to Rosie (the bookshop owner) that she’s not only the daughter of the man who is demolishing her building and terminating her lease, but that she’s also Brie, Rosie’s favorite romance author, who she’s been building an online friendship with for a couple of years now. The movie’s main source of tension is Meg Ryan not knowing that Tom Hanks is not just her business rival but the man she’s falling love with online, while in real life he wiggles his way into her heart, and she begins to suspect/want them to be the same person.
None of that is present here. Instead, the conflict that takes its place is that Rosie can’t seem to get over that Jane works for the company that is kicking her out, even though she acknowledges Jane can’t do anything about it, and that in fact Jane is doing everything in her power to help Rosie find a new space for the bookshop. Things in their relationship have no tension at all after the very beginning of them dating. So when the inevitable third act breakup comes along, the author had to force it, and did it in one of the worst, most unbelievable ways I’ve ever seen. I also personally didn’t think the sex scenes were sexy, although that could just be a me thing. I didn’t think they were earned, and they didn’t feel emotional to me. Most of them just felt sort of perfunctorily plopped in to the narrative.
Lastly, Jane’s pseudonym is the worst. For some reason, the author decided that Jane would have picked a one name pseudonym, so she goes by just “Brie.” Once I realized she didn’t have a last name, every time Brie is mentioned (and she is mentioned a lot) I cringed so hard. Just give her a fucking last name! She’s not Madonna!
Despite all the things that didn’t work for me, there were moments in here that were really sweet and fun. I’ve seen quite a few reviews from people who didn’t really like this one, saying they really enjoyed the sequel, so I’ll be checking it out. Plus, I want to see Lia get her own book!