My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it
From the outside, Kirk and Jamie appear to have a beautiful home and the perfect marriage. Inside, the aging Craftsman is falling apart, their marriage is crumbling from neglect, and Jamie Royce wants out! Kirk, on the other hand, isn’t ready to give up on either the house or their relationship.
With their divorce scheduled for the day after their daughter’s high school graduation, Jamie and Kirk have to fix the home’s problems to lift their selling price out of the basement. Working to renovate the home together, they discover secrets—in the home, in their marriage, and in the fertility clinic that helped give them their daughter—and find themselves questioning what true love really is.
I don't read many romance books with a troubled marriage as the focus, but this one did it right. It was sad and disheartening to see how insecure and defensive Jamie and Kirk were, and how they let pride prevent them from being honest with each other. That was balanced out by the author skillfully weaving in pieces of their falling-in-love story to illustrate not only why their relationship was worth saving, but also the root of some of their issues. Communication, or the lack thereof, is the biggest hurdle they need to overcome. It's too easy as a reader to want to yell at them, "just say something!!!" but also recognizing that the difficult emotions they are feeling are all too realistic. I kept on reading quickly, trying to hurry to the point where they turn things around, but also found myself fascinated by the home renovations they undertake originating with demolishing a leaky bathroom. I found it to be a good metaphor for how they needed to fix their marriage- strip down the "quick fixes" until the true problem under the surface is revealed, and start over from there, building things carefully and correctly. Each chapter has a helpful tip about various aspects of home renovation, several of which I want to remember for the future!
(Thank you to the author for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)