I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella

Published by Bantam Press

Fixie Farr has always lived by her father’s motto: “Family first.” But since her dad passed away, leaving his charming housewares store in the hands of his wife and children, Fixie spends all her time picking up the slack from her siblings instead of striking out on her own. The way Fixie sees it, if she doesn’t take care of her father’s legacy, who will? It’s simply not in her nature to say no to people.

So when a handsome stranger in a coffee shop asks her to watch his laptop for a moment, Fixie not only agrees—she ends up saving it from certain disaster. Turns out the computer’s owner is an investment manager. To thank Fixie for her quick thinking, Sebastian scribbles an IOU on a coffee sleeve and attaches his business card. But Fixie laughs it off—she’d never actually claim an IOU from a stranger. Would she?

Then Fixie’s childhood crush, Ryan, comes back into her life and his lack of a profession pushes all of Fixie’s buttons. She wants nothing for herself—but she’d love Seb to give Ryan a job. And Seb agrees, until the tables are turned once more and a new series of IOUs between Seb and Fixie—from small favors to life-changing moments—ensues. Soon Fixie, Ms. Fixit for everyone else, is torn between her family and the life she really wants. Does she have the courage to take a stand? Will she finally grab the life, and love, she really wants?

Sophie Kinsella has been a staple of my library since my teen years, she’s on the exclusive list of authors whose work I’ll pick up without even bothering to read the synopsis (which is why I always go into these books blind!).

Over the years, I’ve noticed that her books are less romantic and more about a heroine with a disastrous personal/professional life finding her power and going through some of the most cringeworthy experiences on the way. Kinsella is the author that taught me the art of reading through a mortifying scene with one eye shut, the other squinting and a cushion at the ready to bury my face into!

In this particular book, Fixie (kudos to the customary strange character name!) is a kind, hardworking young woman trying to honour her father’s memory and keep his legacy, the family shop, running while her siblings seem determined to run it into the ground by steamrolling over all her ideas and efforts. It’s something I think everyone can relate to on some level, which is what makes it so easy to read.

I found Fixie a little infuriating at times, she’s dangerously naïve and will rationalise her way out of anything only it isn’t as charming as the Shopaholic rationalising, it’s a bit more sad reading about her coming up with reasons why it’s ok to sacrifice her own happiness. To make it clear – this is an awesome book, it’s just a bit more angsty and thought provoking than I expected it to be.

The romance element is deliciously sweet, it’s a relationship between two people who have a lot to offer each other. The romance plays a secondary role to Fixie’s story, which was both empowering for her as a person, but also a bit of a shame for me as a reader as the romance is where the escapism is at!

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