REVIEW: Her Fixer Upper by Emily Kerr
Unable to afford their own homes, two friends decide to buy a renovation house together as a project. What could possibly go wrong…?
Freya dreams of owning her own home.
Charlie is struggling to get a mortgage.
When the two old friends bump into each other on a night out, Charlie jokes that buying together would solve all their problems. He doesn’t expect Freya to say yes, let alone yes to a less-than-perfect fixer upper.
Nobody said rennovating their dream home would be easy, but will Charlie and Freya fall out of love with the house, or in love with each other…
TW – Freya has to deal with her drunken male landlord who comes into her room one night. As much as she’d like to shrink from doing anything, Freya and her bestie Leila bring the police in on the situation.
Dear Ms. Kerr,
I love the cover for the book as Freya is a dungaree wearing redhead with glasses. This book certainly covers a lot of current issues and trends mixing the lack of available intro housing with all the renovation/do-it-yourself shows on TV. From my local housing market, I know it’s hard for Gen Zs to break into home ownership and I’ve heard the plight is similar in the UK so our heroine’s plan to go 50:50 with her childhood bestie so that they can finally afford to buy a home makes sense. But of course, the only thing remotely within their combined price range is an old cottage in need of serious repairs and renovation.
Freya is a rule maker while Charlie is an easy going soul. She’s a bit uptight about sticking to the color-coded schedule she’s drawn up to go with The Rules that she listed to cover every eventuality of their joint ownership. Charlie’s a more “laid back, let’s also have some fun time off to keep ourselves sane, it will eventually get done” type of person. But they’re also former best friends who just lost track of each other over the years rather than due to any falling out. Once they hook up again, it’s like old times. Or is it? After all the major rule that Freya added to The Rules is for them to Not Get Involved. They have a joint mortgage at stake!
The set up of the story might sound wacky but it makes sense to me. Freya and Charlie are trying to get their feet on the property rung near Harrogate in Yorkshire which has eye watering real estate prices. Freya also has to listen her boss disparage her generation about avocado toast and fancy coffees. After Freya announces her plan to Charlie, he tells her he knows the perfect place – perfect being a word that doesn’t jump into Freya’s mind when she sees it. But he’s correct. The old cottage needs a lot of work and the hideous decorating choices (“prison chic meets 70s horror show”) made by previous owners, along with the current owner just wanting to shift the property, works to their advantage when Freya and Charlie make their offer.
Ah but then comes all the actual ripping up and tearing out plus the expensive estimates to replace the rotten window frames, fix the chimney, and get the wiring redone. When contractors suck at their teeth and shake their heads when working up cost estimates, you know it’s not going to be good. Working hard, too, Charlie and Freya slowly begin bringing the old place back to life. There is a lot of detail in these parts but then that’s what the book’s relationship will be built on. So far, so good.
I ended up liking Charlie a bit more than Freya which is a shame as it’s only Freya’s POV we get. Freya is a rigid rule abider, after all. Despite all the things in The Rules about communication, Freya is terrible at it. She makes assumptions, guesses at other things, issues orders, and due to her own (acknowledged) lack of confidence she resorts to the old adage that a good offence is the best defense. Poor Charlie gives and gives and puts up with Freya snapping at him and stomping around when she’s upset or worried about the house or afraid he’s dating someone else.
This is pretty much their relationship until near the end of the book. At one point Freya thinks about their relationship and how they balance each other but on the whole, she’s getting the better bargain in Charlie than he is from her, IMO. I will give her this – she does do a bit of self-reflection and realizes her faults. Her beloved Grandpa (who is a dear [and reads the library’s collection of large print Mills and Boon which has him seeing sexual tension everywhere], along with Freya’s parents and Charlie’s parents) might announce he’s happy the two have finally figured things out but I sure hope Freya can loosen up a bit and work on her prickliness because Charlie deserves better. B-/C+
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