Review: The Fixer-Upper by Phoebe MacLeod

The Fixer Upper

About the book, The Fixer-Upper The Fixer Upper cover

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Boldwood Books (February 3, 2024)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 288 pages

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…

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About the author, Phoebe MacLeod PhoebeAvatar

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 will be published in November 2022. They will also be republishing her existing titles from August this year.

Connect with Phoebe:

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My Thoughts MissMeliss - 2023

How refreshing it was to fall into the pages of The Fixer-Upper, Phoebe MacLeod’s latest romantic comedy, where friendship remains a pillar and shocking events don’t drive the plot. Rather, it’s a novel that lets us meet the main characters, sit with them a while, and watch them develop new and healthy relationships without any back-stabbing or scandal.

Alex and Emma are best friends who buy a flat together, and in typical rom-com fashion, fall for the boys next door – well, really across the hall. What follows is a sweet and often hilarious story about how confident real estate agent Alex and less confident Emma find themselves in a quest to find true – or at least lasting – love.

I enjoyed the tease of the title that persisted through the opening chapters, for the “fixer-upper” isn’t the flat that Emma and Alex buy. It’s their next door neighbor Callum, and even he doesn’t really need fixing so much as he needs a style consultant and a confidence booster.

Watching Alex process her changing feelings for her long-term boyfriend Thomas, especially after he moves to San Francisco for an artists’ retreat, is much like watching my own self in my twenties as I learned what I wanted, what I didn’t, and what wants were really needs, and it’s that universality that really makes this book shine. We’ve all had to re-examine our choices at one time or another. We’ve all had the focus of of our relationships change – at times the most important person is our best friend, while at other times it’s our partner. Those shifts are a normal part of our evolution into stable adults, and author MacLeod captures them brilliantly.

While I loved the Alex and Callum thread in this novel, and enjoyed the Emma and Mark thread, the character I felt was a bit underserved in this story was the other best friend, Michelle, who is a tower of support for Alex, especially when Emma’s focus changes.

If you’re looking for accidental sleuths, scandal, or mayhem, this is not the book for you. If, on the other hand, you’re looking for a relatable, feel-good romance with well-drawn characters who feel like the people you might meet in the local cafe, run to your nearest source of books, and get a copy of The Fixer-Upper. You won’t regret it.

Goes well with: coffee and anisette toast.


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