Review: Fixer-Upper

cover-fixer-upperTitle: Fixer-Upper
Author: Inés Saint
Series: Spinning Hills #3
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: Novel
Available: Jan 19th


This charmer just needs a little attention…

Spinning Hills, Ohio sure is sweet, which might be why the Amador brothers are not only renovating the town’s lovely houses, but settling down in them. Because there’s nothing more blissful than coming home to a houseful of love…

Masquerade parties were not exactly Johnny Amador’s thing—until he found himself captivated by a witty, dark-eyed young woman in a peasant costume. Even her mask couldn’t obscure her beauty. Only after a disastrous case of mistaken identity did he discover that his mystery woman was none other than Marissa Medina, his best friend’s youngest sister—which brings a whole new set of challenges.

Marissa never forgot the night she and Johnny kissed—the feelings that flared to life. Not that she’s going to give the too handsome, too sexy charmer a chance. She knows how dangerous Johnny is and she can’t surrender to him at any cost. But that’s a tall order now that he’s showing how dedicated he is to turning his own fixer-upper—and his life—into the stuff of her dreams.

Source: ARC from Lyrical Shine (Kensington) via NetGalley

At last, a Spinning Hills novel in which I loved not only the town and the quirky characters that make it so much fun to read about, but both the hero and the heroine too. In fact, this is definitely my favourite of the series so far. Which is funny, because if I’d known going in that these two would spend most of the book unable to be in a relationship because one of them was engage to someone else, I would have been a lot more hesitant to read it.

To say that Johnny and Marissa’s relationship is complicated would be a huge understatement. As kids, Johnny was (and remains) best friends with Marissa’s brother, yet they were friends too. In fact, at one point in their lives they were very close indeed, but things ended badly and led to them avoiding each other for years. Until a chance meeting at a masquerade sparks unexpected feelings and fresh misunderstandings that mean working together is the last thing they need. Except Marissa’s a teacher and Johnny’s a school counsellor and they have a summer of teaching disadvantaged students stretching ahead of them.

I really enjoyed this book. It was unexpected and sweet and charming, as well as fun. Johnny is lovely, even if he can be too nice for his own good at times and unintentionally mislead people thanks to his hatred of conflict. His kindness is his biggest weakness, actually, and often leads to trouble – it did when he was a kid and it still does as an adult. It also means that most people underestimate him and aren’t willing to acknowledge that not only has he grown up, he’s matured too and is capable of thinking things through before jumping. Although he doesn’t do himself many favours when he adopts five puppies and has to move into a cursed and dilapidated house in order to keep them. Contrary to popular opinion, though, he’s no fool and has got it all sorted out. If only things with Marissa were so easy.

Speaking of Marissa, I liked her too, even if I found her insistence that her fiancé was so perfect for her a touch frustrating at times. She’s a caring, giving woman who has always let her heart rule her head, but is determined not to make such a mistake when it comes to marriage. Which is why she refuses to give Johnny a chance, because they’re so alike that they would end up working themselves into the ground to make others happy, while forgetting to spend time together. Or so she believes. Yet despite this willful obtuseness, I did like her. I loved how she encouraged her kids and the way she and Johnny worked together so well.

The pair of them are adorable, especially when they’re together, but I loved that they’re both too decent and loyal to actually do anything when Marissa isn’t free. Sure, Johnny does some stupid stuff and makes a few bad choices, but neither of them are selfish or malicious and try so hard not to hurt others. Well, not without extreme provocation, anyway. True, I could see where it was headed from a long way out, but I still enjoyed the journey and found the ending really satisfying.

If you’re looking for a romance that likes to take its time reaching its HEA, and allows its characters to really build a relationship before things get the least bit physical, then this book definitely does that. It also places two good people together, with a bunch of family and friends hanging around to keep things fun and interesting. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and even though the last of the Amador brothers has now been paired off, I really hope this isn’t the last I’ll be reading of Spinning Hills. I love this crazy little town and there are still so many people in need of their own HEA… not least Marissa’s siblings.

Fixer-Upper is out January 19th!
Visit Inés Saint for more details.


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