The Fixer Upper
Narrated by Isabel Keating
This had a bit of a shaky start for me, but the narrator did a good job of bringing the story and characters to life, so I kept listening. In the end, it was a fun audiobook featuring a less than perfect heroine and some quirky secondary characters. While the romance received less focus than some of the author’s other books, I still found it enjoyable.
Dempsey Killebrew’s job with a powerful Washington lobbying firm crashes and burns when the firm is implicated in a major influence-peddling scandal. From all appearances, Dempsey is at the heart of the scandal. Her colleagues seem happy to let her take the fall, which shocks her. Dempsey has had a crush on her older, married boss for several years, and initially refuses to believe that he could have had anything to do with the scheme. When he refuses to answer her calls and fires her, Dempsey’s on her own.
Dempsey heads to her father’s home in Miami to avoid the media. Rather than giving Dempsey money, or offering her a place to stay, her father convinces her to partner with him to flip the old family home he just inherited in Guthrie, Georgia. Her father will provide some money to fix the place up; Dempsey will do the on-site work. Her father suggests that the home will only take a bit of work, and will be an easy way for Dempsey to earn some money away from public scrutiny.
Once Dempsey arrives in Guthrie, she learns her father wasn’t close to accurate. After fighting through brambles and bushes to reach the home, she discovers it’s been neglected for years. Instead of a simple coat of paint, the home will take an incredible amount of work before it can be put up for sale. Complicating matters, elderly relative Ella Kate has taken up residence in the home and has no intention of leaving.
Before Dempsey can get much work done on the house, the FBI appears, threatening her with arrest unless she helps implicate her boss. I’ll have to admit I found the whole FBI-sting-corruption thread to be the least interesting part of the book. Fortunately, it didn’t overwhelm the story.
Dempsey is an interesting character. I thought she was naive to be taken in so completely by her boss, but grew to like her as she began remodeling the house.
Dempsey meets a lot of interesting characters in the town, and becomes involved with a charming lawyer Tee Berryhill. However, her relationship with Tee is only one plot-line in the book, and he’s off-page for chapters at a time.
The secondary characters are vividly described. Many initially seem to be odd caricatures with quirky personalities, but as time goes on, we learn that there’s a lot of depth and complexity beneath the surface. I particularly adored Tee’s father and thought for a while that Dempsey might end up having a relationship with him.
I enjoyed Isabel Keating’s narration. She gave all of the characters distinctive voices, so that I was never confused. I particularly liked the voices she gave to Dempsey and Ella Kate who sounds exactly like the crotchety, ornery elderly woman that she is. And Dempsey alternately sounds sarcastic, witty, and confused. I will definitely look for other audio books narrated by Ms. Keating.