REVIEW: Like You Mean It by Jillian Liota

Title:  Like You Mean ItLike You Mean It
Author:  Jillian Liota

Genre:  Adult Contemporary
Publication Date:  November 13, 2018

“I want to make you smile like you mean it.”

The day Cole Lannington says those words to me, I already know I’m falling. Hard. For a man I can never have. Because there’s no way in hell I’ll ever deserve a man like him.

All I need to do is keep my head above water. Push a little harder. Keep that smile plastered on my face for my son as we try to wade through the new life that’s threatening to drown us both.

But on the first day I can’t seem to hold it all together, I meet him. And for some reason, he comes to my aid. Before I know it, Cole steps in and becomes an important part of my life. Our lives. Fills a void left vacant by a man who never wanted to fill it in the first place.

Too bad he can never be more than a friend.

All I need to do is be a nice guy to my new neighbor. Make her smile a little bit. Find space in my tidy, structured life to ease the burden she carries so she and her son can enjoy life without the bastard who treated them like they were insignificant.

I don’t expect to talk and laugh and feel a warmth in my chest I didn’t know was missing until she showed up at my door. Somehow I end up caring about her more deeply than I should. But my friendship with Annie opens my eyes to what it could be like to have something deeper. To feel something stronger.

To fall in love like I mean it.


Like You Mean It is so much more than a romance.  It’s a story about friendship, and the power that it can give you to heal from past hurts.  It’s a story about overcoming and becoming the person you were truly meant to be.  It’s a story about family, and finding your future.  It’s all of these things, and so much more.

This book is the story of Annie, a single mom of a four year old boy named Jones, with another baby on the way.  Annie has moved across the country after the death of her long time boyfriend, and things are a mess.  She needs to find a job, get her car fixed, find someplace for Jones to go to school, along with a bevy of other things, all while being pregnant and overly emotional.  It’s these emotions that drive her to Cole’s front door with a plastic tupperware container and a craving for a grilled hamburger. Little does she know that this chance encounter will be the start of her first real friendship in California.

Cole, on the other hand, is a 34 year old biker/mechanic that is completely settled in his life.  He has an auto shop he owns, a nice little house to call home, and a girlfriend of two years that lives a few hours away.  He’s comfortable with keeping everything in its own separate box and not mixing it up.  Family stays in this one.  Girlfriend in this one.  Friends in another.  But then Annie comes barreling into his life with her basketball belly, a smile that doesn’t quite touch her eyes, and an adorable 4 year old that Cole can’t help but love.

Like You Mean It is a slow burn of a romance.  The vast majority focuses on the friendship of Cole and Annie, and how this friendship causes them both to heal and develop into the people they were always meant to be.  I’m not normally a huge fan of the slow burn romance because I crave the romance factor in a book, but for this one it worked.  In all honesty, Like You Mean It isn’t like many books that I normally read.  It’s not racey and steamy.  It didn’t leave me with sweating palms and force me to find a fan to cool off.  But that’s ok, because in the end it didn’t need it.  This book was completely perfect just the way it is, and I flew through the pages, loving every minute of my time with Cole and Annie.

The greatest part of Like You Mean It is Annie’s transformation from this meek and mild woman who is scared to speak up for herself and to let herself be appreciated, to this fierce tiger who goes after what she wants.  It was a refreshing change for her, and one I enjoyed reading about and watching develop through the pages of the story.  It made this story seem real, and made me grow a deeper appreciate for their back stories.

If you are looking for an enjoyable read, with a strong story line, Like You Mean It is the perfect book for you.  This one left me with a full heart, and a smile on my face!

4 Stars

About the Author

Jillian Liota.jpgJillian has been writing since she was old enough to hold a crayon. Her very first book, about a mermaid, was printed into hardback when she was just 5 years old. (Thanks for paying for that, mom and dad!)

Over the years she continued to write fiction, primarily based on her own life. She went to college, then grad school, and began working in university settings in the U.S and New Zealand.

In her mid-twenties, Jillian read her very first romance novel and was instantly hooked. Her first (real) novel, The Keeper, released in November 2016. The follow up novella, Keep Away, is slated for release in June 2018.

Jillian currently lives in Kailua, Hawaii with her husband, Danny, and pet minions, Maia, Amelie and Hobo.


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