Etta

Review: I Owe You One

Published June 25th 2019, 464 pages

Author: Sophie Kinsella

Overview from Goodreads:

From the author of Surprise Me comes an irresistible story of love and empowerment about a young woman with a complicated family, a handsome man who might be “the one,” and an IOU that changes everything.

Fixie Farr has always lived by her father’s motto: “Family first.” And 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 Fixie’s nature to say no to people. So when a handsome stranger in a coffee shop asks her to watch his laptop for a moment, she not only agrees–she ends up saving it from certain disaster. To thank Fixie for her quick thinking, the computer’s owner, Sebastian, an investment manager, scribbles an IOU on a coffee sleeve and attaches his business card. Fixie laughs it off–she’d never actually claim an IOU from a stranger. Would she?

But then Fixie’s childhood crush, Ryan, comes back into her life, and his lack of a profession pushes all of Fixie’s buttons. As always, she wants nothing for herself–but she’d love Seb to give Ryan a job. No sooner has Seb agreed than 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?

Personal Review

This is my first Sophie Kinsella book and won’t be my last as I already have a few on my shelf that I will eventually read. The premise of this story is what drew me into it as the idea of the IOU bringing together the two characters was a fun concept, especially given how it all starts. It was enjoyable overall, but there are a lot of flaws with our main heroine that can make it difficult to understand (not as bad for me as I have a friend with a very similar relationship with others and over time I’ve come to understand her feelings behind every action.)

The name Fixie is literally what this character’s main trait is as she always is trying to fix everything around her and her other main trait is that her family always comes first. She runs the family store and tries to keep it going as the store is struggling to stay afloat. For fear of disappointing her late-father who she promised she would always put family first, Fixie creates a dynamic for those she interacts with. She will be a doormat if it means a harmonious family unit and she therefore puts their happiness and well-being above her own. Do I personally relate to this – no, but can I understand that someone could be like this-yes. It’s a hard concept to get behind as you never really get behind why someone would become like this in the first place aside from one promise (I want to know more about before as was it really the father that kept everything together or was it always this way). She’s been a fix-it person for a while and it’s starting to wear on her and this creates one of the many subplots of the story.

Our central romance begins in a cafe where Fixie saves Sebastian’s (Seb) computer from water damage. (After reading this event, I now have to constantly look up whenever I bring my computer any where for fear of a sudden water leak!) He writes down an IOU on a coffee cup sleeve for Fixie to cash in any time. They go back and forth of who owes one to the other to eventually build a relationship.  Not a romantic one as Fixie already has a boyfriend named Ryan who she believes is amazing. (Ryan is the worst and I couldn’t even fathom how Fixie would even want to pursue a relationship with him.)

One thing this novel misses compared to other rom-coms is the tension of the will-they won’t they and to have the characters have witty banter with each other. There are some moments with charm sprinkled in, but I just felt like there could be more to make their relationship worth rooting for.  Without this build-up, it left their relationship without a lot of depth and being relatable where you would believe they would last as a couple. It was more of a surface level relationship where they are sort of forced together by the author. Again, there were bits here and there in the story that give you moments that  the chemistry and depth were there, but it needed more to live up to its full potential.

Something that this novel does delve into is the relationships in a family, especially with siblings. As the mom is away, the siblings then have to find out if the dynamic they currently have works or not for the family unit to still get by. Fixie is the central responsible one because she designated herself that way as she believes she is the best at keeping it all together. She gets exhausted doing this though and eventually tries to find out if her siblings can step up to the plate – I can’t go very much further into this without spoiling this topic of the novel.

Overall, this novel was enjoyable as there were relatable aspects. I loved the concept and there were enough good moments to outweigh its flaws. I found Seb and Fixie to have some attraction and their relationship ups and downs were great additions to the story. These ups and downs are what make a true rom-com fun. There were faults to this story where I felt like there should have been more, but it still was a fantastic novel as a whole and I’ll definitely keep Kinsella novels on my TBR list!

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