I spent the first half of my life in the same house. My grandfather built it with his own two hands back in 1929, and when he died, my mother inherited it, and lived there until she died. It was my home through childhood and most of my teen years, until I headed out, to seek my fortune in the world.
Since then I’ve lived in…oh…roughly twelve more houses and a few apartments in a couple of different countries, cities, and states. I renovated my first home eight years ago; since then, I’ve owned and renovated seven more. Eight houses in eight years isn’t too bad of a track-record. Especially since most of them were renovated around our ears as we tried to go about our business as usual in the midst of paint and drywall mud and dust and men with their shirts off flexing their muscles as they drove nails and soldered pipes.
Anyway, it’s that background that caused Berkley Prime Crime to offer me a chance to create a series of Do-It-Yourself Home Renovation mysteries last year sometime. Something to capitalize on the current interest in ‘flipping’, and to snag the interest of all the women who tune in to watch Ty Pennington and Carter Oosterhouse flex their muscles every week.
Sorry about that. Slight digression there. As I was saying, something to snag the interest of the people who tune in to ‘Extreme Makeover, Home Edition’ and HGTV every week. Something with home improvement tips and Do-It-Yourself projects, some suspense, a little history, a few dead bodies, and a hot guy with his shirt off.
Yes, there really is a hot guy with his shirt off. His name is Derek, and he’s six feet tall, with hair that’s just a touch closer to blond than brown, melting, blue eyes, and all the right muscles in all the right places—on display—and he’s really, really good with his hands. Not to mention that he has power tools, and knows how to use them. Derek’s the one who teaches Avery—she’s the main character—the ABCs. About home improvement, I mean.
Avery meets Derek when she inherits her Aunt Inga’s Victorian cottage in tiny Waterfield, Maine, and decides that she’s going to spend the summer renovating the place, before putting it back on the market in the fall, hopefully to make a quick buck. Or a quick hundred thousand. A girl can hope, right? Flipping is ‘easy’ and ‘everyone’s doing it’, right?
Well, maybe not. As I know, and as Avery finds out, there’s a lot more to renovating a house than what you see on TV. It always costs more and takes longer than you think it will, and then there are those complications… And that’s where Derek comes in. He’s a local handyman, remodeler, and restorer, and he hires on to help Avery navigate the choppy waters of DIY. And the rest, as they say, is history. There are cats (Maine Coons, of course), scheming relatives (his and hers), historical intrigue dating all the way back to the French Revolution, stolen heirlooms, a missing professor, secret tunnels, a rotting corpse, a sexy Frenchman in a beret… and, as I mentioned, a hot guy with his shirt off. What more could any hot-blooded woman want?
“Fatal Fixer-Upper” first in the Do-It-Yourself Home Renovation mysteries, hit stores everywhere on November 4th. If you decide to check it out, I’d love to hear what you thought, as I’ll hopefully be writing this series for a while!
Jennie Bentley is the author of the Do-It-Yourself Home Renovation mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime. When she’s not writing about real estate, she’s buying it, selling it, or renovating it somewhere in Nashville, Tennessee. You can find out more about her at www.jenniebentley.com/ or www.theabcsofdiy.blogspot.com/