Published: 1st march 2016
Publisher: Escape Publishing
Format: Ebook courtesy of the publisher and Netgalley
A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Maddie Jane debuts her romantic comedy novel about a woman who knows how to fix things and the man who wants to convince her that DIY is more fun with two…
Toppling from her very high heels into Luke Colton’s arms is not the impression Harper Cassidy likes to make. She is strong, independent, and on a personal mission to teach DIY skills to women, and he is all wrong – determined to get involved, determined to help her, and determined to mess with her self-control and self-imposed single lifestyle.
Harper has been more than clear that her plans don’t include him, but there’s something about a woman that knows her way around a power tool that has Luke too enthralled to walk away. Taking his mother along to Harper’s DIY for women classes is the perfect excuse to watch her in action, and maybe convince her that doing it for yourself doesn’t always mean having to go it alone.
Fixed Up is a steaming hot début romance from New Zealand author Maddie Jane.
Harper Cassidy is trying to make name for herself in the DIY business while smashing through the glass barrier that says women can’t be as handy as men. Harper is trying to get DIY Divas off the ground and the last thing she expected was to literally fall in the arms of the hunky Luke Colton, a man who epitomises every thing she is striving against, and yet she can’t stop her body’s radical reaction to the smouldering hot tradie before her.
Luke Colton of Colton Construction never expected the woman of his dreams to fall into his arms, and yet she did. Pity that’s the only thing that’s been easy to come by in the relationship. Right from the get-go, Luke knew Harper was the one for him and he did everything right to get her only to have the one-woman show knock him back at every turn. Lucky for Luke he doesn’t give up easily, because his fight to win over Harper isn’t going to be easy or smooth sailing, but is he willing to go the distance at the end of the day?
I got sucked into this narrative from the very first page. In fact I think Harper and Luke’s unconventional meeting where she literally falls head over heels – off a ladder – into his open arms is one of the books strongest scene and my favourite. It was just so visual and hilarious that I literally saw it play out before my eyes. You also got this great sense of character and what the story is going to be like right away, and you knew you were in good hands with this author. I swear I was kind of dancing in my head going ‘this is going to be awesome!’
Unfortunately the constant back and forward and the characters sheer stubbornness eventually wore me down as the book progressed. I got that Harper was a strong independent women and heard her roar. I knew that Luke was used to looking after people. But the constant repetition sadly started to irk me as a reader and the characters slowly became less interesting and less go-getting and more whiny. I do believe part of this was part of my own reaction to the fantastic opening of the book where I just dived in to the book so gang-ho and placed potentially too high and unrealistic expectations on the book. That said I did still really enjoy the narrative, and the sexual chemistry between the two leads was off the charts!
As I mentioned above, there are some super cute scenes in this narrative and I really enjoyed most of Harper and Luke’s interactions. The first meeting was superb, clearly, and the concert scene had the inner romantic in me sighing like the hopeless romantic I am. In terms of personal tastes, there was a lot of focus on the physical nature of their attraction and relationship throughout the narrative and I would have preferred some more of the type of scenes mentioned above just to get in their head space and relationship zone a bit more. I do understand that Harper’s prickly can’t-go-there nature would have hindered that. Please note that although it’s not fade-to-black (which doesn’t bother me) this book is by no means a play-by-play either and at the end of the day it is a romance narrative, so the physical relationship is just as important as the emotion one.
I quite enjoyed the unique nature of the narrative. We have Harper the female DIY Queen who is striving against gender perceptions and trying hard to give women back their confidence to do this kind of stuff for themselves (go Harper!!) and then there’s Luke, the over protective successful construction guru I guess who doesn’t mean too, but constantly takes over because he wants to help and get things done to spare his loved ones … even when they argue they are more than capable of doing it themselves. I love the contrast and the dilemma that these two propose going up against each other. I also LOVE the DIY Diva classes and would totally do some of them if there were any close to me. Seriously, I’m not a handy-man type of woman and constantly rely on my Dad to help me fix and do that kind of stuff. It would be awesome to have that independence, confidence and freedom that Harper embodies and preaches.
I loved the setting of this novel – as I can count the number of novels I’ve read set in New Zealand on one hand and still have fingers left spare -, and yet I think Maddie Jane perhaps did herself a bit of a disservice by not including more about the setting into the narrative itself. I understand that editors and perhaps even Escape had something to do with this, but I would have liked to see more of the New Zealand culture, or accent, or even the landscape mentioned in the book. As it is, it reads rather general location wise, which can be considered a good thing too I guess as readers from all around the world can imagine the happenings of the narrative taking place in their own backyards.
While there’s a few things that work against this novel for me personally, I think it comes down to the overall size of the narrative and how it was semi-squished into such a small package. The book’s small and reads, most of the time, quickly and effortlessly. The ending seemed rushed and there were things there that I wanted to see play out, and where their relationship could have gone had it been given more time in the book.
And lastly, although this narrative wasn’t a five-star rating for me, I really enjoyed Maddie Jane’s writing style. Hands down Maddie Jane dominates when it comes to dialogue. Seriously this woman is the natural dialogue queen! I also loved the way she was able to entwine the more serious aspects of this book – abandonment, isolation, insecurities and self-perception – with the more fun and flirty – the sexual chemistry, the witty and snappy banter (hands down that chainsaw line me laughing so hard out loud!) and the just plain funny – to create this really natural real-life balance that wasn’t all sunshine-and-roses but also not all gloom-and-doom. I think Maddie Jane really showed her talent and craftsmanship there as this wouldn’t have been an easy feat to pull off.
Fixed Up might by Maddie Jane’s début, but I’m confident it won’t be the last we see of this talented New Zealand author. Her craftsman ship and talent really shows strongly in this short, but steamy, romance novella. I only wish there was more of it!