All Screwed Up is the wonderful result of pairing two talented authors, Beth Bolden and Brittany Cournoyer, and letting their imaginations dance together. The story features a sweet enemies to lovers trope between a pair of seemingly total opposites finally acknowledging their attraction to each other and then nearly fumbling it all due to their mutual stubbornness.
Griffin Caldwell has a habit of starting thing and not finishing them. But when he agrees to take on a new job and purchases a house sight unseen and “as is,” he is faced with a real problem. It’s not his job—he loves being the new assistant manager in a pet store. No, it’s the “cute bungalow” that looks absolutely nothing like the dated pictures on the sale website. The house, a term Griffin uses loosely, is a disaster with rot, mold, and holes in the floor and ceiling big enough to swallow him up. But it’s finding a contractor to take on the job without laughing in his face that is the real challenge. When someone suggest he call David Webber, Griffin jumps at the suggestion.
David is an excellent craftsman. He is one of the best in the business, inheriting his dad’s clients when he decided to retire to Florida. In six short months, not only has David lost those clients, but potential ones steer way clear of him. It’s not because of his workmanship; no, it’s because of his attitude. David is always right; no matter what the client says, no matter what anyone says, he will get the last word and the final say and homeowners aren’t having it. His Yelp ratings have tanked as quickly as his business—the one that is his father’s legacy. But one phone call from a new guy in town who had the guts to take on the old Lovell place and David may very well be back in business. That is if the house mold or the non-stop talker of a new client doesn’t kill him first.
All Screwed Up is a delightfully grumpy romance between two men who both like what they see, but have a hard time admitting it. With cute kittens as side characters, a gossipy small town that loves anyone it meets, and a house that is more disaster than anything else, this duo of talented authors create a wonderfully argumentative genius builder who loves to hate a bubbly and annoyingly inquisitive homeowner. The dynamic between David and Griffin is clever, their interchanges smart and witty, and the heat factor is definitely in the red zone. I really like how these two move through so much indecision and inner doubt as they toy with the idea of falling for each other. I found the “devil and angel” voices inside David’s head particularly amusing and his ongoing attempts to shut them both up make for some of the funniest moments in this story.
In the dual point of view narration, you get to see the changes taking place. These occurs mainly in David, as he has the most on the line if he fails to reign in his impulsive angry attitude. However, Griffin also goes through his own life change by not allowing his mother’s criticism and fatalistic tone about his failure to follow through to derail him from seeing the completion of the tumble down shack he’s purchased into a home. They both become different people by the end of this book and it is lovely to see happen.
If this novel is any indication of how well this pair of authors writes together, then sign me up for any and all future collaborative efforts.