Monday, February 5, 2024

Book Review: The Fixer Upper

By Sara Steven

Finding a man is like buying a house; sometimes you have to look beyond the exterior to see the potential underneath.

As an estate agent, Alex’s job is to create happy-ever-afters. It’s just a shame she can’t work the same magic on her own life. Her long-term boyfriend Thomas still lives with his mother, and her hopes of them taking the next step are dashed when he announces he’s spending all his savings (savings she’d quite hoped he’d want to put towards their future home) on an ‘artist retreat’ in San Francisco.

With Thomas thousands of miles away, getting a little too friendly with his fellow artistes, Alex strikes up a friendship with her new neighbour, Callum. Taciturn, grumpy and nerdy, Callum couldn’t be more different to Alex’s bubbly personality.... So why is he the one she wakes up wanting to talk to?

As they get to know each other, Alex starts to wonder if the answer to all her problems might be closer to home than she thinks… (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

Having just dipped my toes back into the property management realm, I enjoyed reading about Alex’s experiences and enjoyed the cute comparison between the homes she works with, and Callum. At first, Callum is standoffish, quiet, and doesn’t seem to take any real interest in Emma at all. He reminded me of Mark Darcy from Bridget Jones’s Diary. But over time, he seems to come out of his shell more. It helps that Alex brings that out in him, too. 

When Alex’s boyfriend Thomas heads out to San Francisco to “find himself,” and her current flatmate Emma makes a hasty decision to move in with the hot guy across the hall from them, it leaves both Alex and Callum in the lurch. Alex has been waiting for Thomas to step up more and show that he sees a future with her, which means having the two of them live together. But it hasn’t happened yet, and she can’t afford the flat alone. Callum had been roommates with the hot guy across the hall but now he’s feeling like a third wheel, so when Alex proposes that the two of them live together instead, neither really knows at first what they are getting themselves into. Callum has always been awkward around Alex. Alex is super bubbly, a far cry from what Callum is used to. Will living together work out?

It was a cute way to introduce two opposing characters, in order to see what the outcome would be. I thought it was funny how Callum is described as a recluse at first, and not at all attractive, but over time, it seemed as though he went through a sort of inner and outer transformation, which makes him all the more appealing to Alex. Whether that’s her doing, or whether she’s starting to actually see him for who he is and what he has to offer the world, making him more appealing all around–it most likely is a little of both scenarios. But it’s obvious there is attraction on both sides. 

As much as Alex is described as the more “put together” character, particularly with the other secondary characters she surrounds herself with, like her former roommate, Emma–a superbly messy person who is constantly flying by the seat of her pants–I felt as though Callum helped Alex soften up, too. She seemed a little uptight about certain mannerisms and behaviors, and had some pretty rigid views on things. I flashback to a scene between the two of them, where Callum plays classical music for the both of them via headphones in the dark, and at first she wasn’t interested and didn’t think she’d enjoy the experience. But given time and patience, she discovers she does. It’s like they both opened up to one another in different ways, a far cry from the expectations put on them. The Fixer Upper was a sweet read and a gentle reminder not to judge a book by its cover.

Thanks to Rachel's Random Resources for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK * Amazon US * Apple

Phoebe MacLeod is the author of several popular laugh-out-loud romantic comedies. She mainly sets her books in her home county of Kent and her first new title for Boldwood was published in November 2022. They will also be republishing her existing titles from August this year.

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