Thursday, October 7, 2010

Review: The Fixer-Upper

Author: Mary Kay Andrews
Publisher/Format:Harper Paperbacks (2010), 448 pages; also audio -14:15
Narrator: Isabel Keating
Characters: Dempsey Killebrew, Tee Berryhill, Alex Hotter
Subject: fixing up a life and a house
Setting: Washington DC, Guthrie GA
Genre: Chick-lit, romance
Source: public library

I'm not a big fan of bodice ripping romances, or the genre known as "chick-lit", but a good friend whose taste a truly trust kept insisting I had to read something by Mary Kay Andrews.  I had just picked this up at the library when I saw it available as an audio download, so I grabbed both.  I have enjoyed quite a few 'southern' stories this year, and this one is just as funny, fun and heartwarming as any of them.

Dempsey Joy Killebrew, Georgetown Law Grad, lobbyist for big firm in DC gets fired after she is implicated by her boss in a scandal involving procuring prostitutes for a Congressman (among other things.) Now at this point in the story, I was ready to say that Dempsey wasn't the sharpest knife in the drawer, but for pete's sake--she graduated from Georgetown Law!!  Anyway, she has no money, no job prospects, and therefore allows herself to be stashed away in Guthrie Ga to rehab an old house her father has just inherited from his great uncle.  The house comes complete with the requisite dog (no southern story can do without a dog!) and a 79 year old curmudgeonly cousin Ella Kate who is squatting in the ruins and refuses to move.

Now we won't say too much about  Dempsey's absolutely miraculous makeover of the house --even Ty Bennington's crew couldn't have done that much work and fixed things up that beautifully on her pitiful budget in such a short time.  But wait...there's more.  Dempsey has to convince the FBI she's innocent and hire's the lawfirm of Berryhill and Berryhill to help her out of the mess.  There's a romance.  There's political and legal intrigue.  There are courtly southern gentleman.  There's a California moonbeam, spaced-out mother, and enough friendly, gossipy, nosey, and randy southern citizens of this small town to keep the reader turning pages and laughing out loud. And there's the star of the show: Ella Kate.

In the end, Dempsey shows us what she's really made of, develops some self-confidence, pulls her brains out of storage, and becomes a heroine we can cheer for.

It won't win a Nobel Prize, but it's a surprisingly good solid little romance for days when you want some chocolate with the marshmallow fluff.  I loved it.


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