Handymanby Linda Nichols
Sweet, struggling Maggie Ivey is a twenty-six-year-old single mom trying to keep it all together, burdened by a lecherous boss, a dead-end job,
An accidental therapy session is the catalyst for change in Linda Nichols's winsome, witty, irresistible debut novel--a love story about two people who don't realize they're made for each other until it's almost too late.
Sweet, struggling Maggie Ivey is a twenty-six-year-old single mom trying to keep it all together, burdened by a lecherous boss, a dead-end job, and a worried mother who just wants her to move back home to Georgia. Maggie's prospects look dim, until her friend Gina signs her up for the famous Dr. Jason Golding's 21-Day Overhaul.
Maggie's first session seems to go perfectly. Dr. Golding is warm, sensitive, and a terrific listener. There's only one problem: The handsome man in Dr. Golding's chair isn't Dr. Golding. In fact, he's not even a therapist; he's Jake Cooper, a contractor hired to remodel the office. But all Maggie knows is that talking to him helps her feel better. And Jake doesn't quite know how to let Maggie in on the secret. Will he eventually confess to his ruse? Will she discover the truth on her own? And the most important question of all: Can a handyman fix a broken heart?
Set in the San Francisco Bay Area, and featuring a cast of characters impossible to resist, Handyman is a fresh new look at the oldest story of all and just what the doctor ordered for anyone with a case of the blues.
Maggie's first session seems to go perfectly. Dr. Golding is warm, sensitive, and a terrific listener. There's only one problem: the handsome man in Dr. Golding's chair isn't Dr. Golding. In fact, he's not even a therapist; he's Jake Cooper, a contractor hired to remodel the office. Will Jake eventually confess? Will Maggie discover the truth on her own? And the real question: Can a handyman fix a broken heart?
Set in the San Francisco Bay area, and featuring a cast of characters impossible to resist, Handyman is a fresh new look at the oldest story of all and just what the doctor ordered for the mid-winter blues.
- Random House Publishing Group
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 4.19(w) x 6.88(h) x 0.56(d)
Read an Excerpt
Tuesday, April 21
"Just tell me one thing." Ethelda was bent over the plans she was drafting for Dr. Jason Solomon Golding's office remodel, her pencil poised in the air. She looked right at home at the secretary's desk, though Jake knew better than to tease her about it. "What on God's green earth," she asked him, "is a psychologist going to do with a hot tub this size, and smack in the middle of his office?"
Jake shrugged. "Not our job to ask," he said, and went into the doctor's inner office to finish measuring. "Maybe he likes the open concept," he called over his shoulder.
"Uh-hunh," Ethelda answered back.
Jake thought it was strange, too. The doctor's present arrangement of L-shaped waiting room, reception desk, and small half bath with walled-off inner office seemed perfectly adequate to him, though Ethelda, with her designer's eye, said the architect could have done more to maximize the view. But who knew what went on in these guys' heads? These celebrity therapist types were odd ducks, all of them, and from what Bob Metzger had told him, this guy was the king of nutcases--always coming up with some new way to bilk people out of their cash--his latest offering being some sort of birth therapy where you got into a hot tub and pretended you were being born again. Jake shook his head, incredulous at the idea of people paying money for such a thing.
He went back to work measuring the room that would not exist in a week or so when the doctor's plan was implemented, and opted not to share what little he knew about the hot tub with Ethelda. She would have an opinion, and the ensuing discussion would probably last all the way back to Petaluma, and the truth was, he didn't really care what Dr. Golding was going to do with his hot tub. In fact, he didn't even really want this job, and was tempted to put the bid high enough to ensure they wouldn't get it. Petaluma was a long way from San Francisco, a good thirty minutes if he drove and forty-five or so if Ethelda took the wheel. He'd done the estimate only because Bob Metzger was a good customer and had asked him to, but there were plenty of jobs closer to home. He thought about the people he knew who got on the bus at four A.M. to be in San Francisco by eight for the start of the business day, and concluded again that they were crazy. Jake was even sorry they'd agreed to do the estimate, regardless of the fact that the money was better in the city than it would be for the same job anywhere north of Marin County. Golding was already proving to be a pain, leaving phone messages and sending faxes, trying to get them to hurry things along. Well, he'd give the guy his estimate. Today. Five more minutes and they'd be on their way, Jake told himself. And then, with any luck, he and Ethelda would never see this place again.
His Stanley steel measuring tape snapped back from its twenty-five-foot extension, giving that satisfying little schwaap that he loved, and he bent over to note the last measurement on his chart, actually a page in a frayed three-and-a-half-by-five-inch spiral notebook he carried in his pocket. A door opened and closed. He looked up, thinking it was Ethelda, but it was not Ethelda he saw coming through the doorway of Golding's office. It was someone else--a small woman, a girl Jake would have called her if he hadn't learned not to--and he could tell with just one glance that she had been crying hard, and recently. Her face was mottled--little red splotches all the way down her neck to her chest. Her nose was bright red, and she stabbed at it savagely with a crumpled--up tissue.
He remembered the little cloudbursts his sister, Shelley, would treat them to from time to time when they were growing up, but this was nothing like those. Even he, a failure where everything about women was concerned, knew this woman had been doing a different kind of crying. He thought about Shelley's sniffling histrionics and shook his head. This woman's crying had been no mere cloudburst. It would have taken a thundering gully washer of tears to leave her in such a state.
Jake dropped the measuring tape onto the chair behind the doctor's huge desk, beside his jacket and frayed blue Cooper-Jackson Construction cap. He straightened up and tried to think of what to do. Ethelda stood behind the woman in the doorway, arms over her chest, her face a familiar cross between humor and suspicion.
The crying woman seemed oblivious to both of them, to everything but the cause of those tears. She looked sad and tight, and after a second or two she spoke, but hesitantly, as if she were afraid that making any sound would cause her careful control to wash away. She stood there, just inside the door, all blotchy and red, and said, "I'm Maggie Ivey. I'm here for the 21-Day Overhaul."
Jake felt rooted to his spot by the desk. His mouth opened and closed, but no words came out. The crying woman--Maggie Ivey--didn't seem to notice. She walked over to Dr. Golding's little love seat and crossed her arms over her chest. Jake could see a new crop of hives beginning on her neck, right before his eyes. She glanced toward the seat, and then back at him, and he realized she was waiting for an invitation to sit down.
"Please." He gestured toward the little couch.
"Thank you," said Maggie Ivey in a polite, tight little voice. She sat down on the love seat and dropped her purse into a heap at her feet, then pulled out a fresh tissue from her pocket and looked around for a place to put the used one. Jake looked around, too, a little wildly, but he couldn't locate the trash can. Maggie Ivey finally put the Kleenex on her knee.
She took a second or two and seemed to be gearing up to say something. Jake watched her face go from stiff to crumpled to scrunched, and then she began crying again, so hard that the words she tried to say came out as rhythmic groans, the same sound his engine made when the battery was dead and he tried to start it. Ethelda still stood in the doorway.
"I can't do this anymore," the crying woman said, but taking much longer than normal and each word interspersed with the dead battery noises.
Ethelda, who seemed to be much better at architectural planning than sign language, was motioning, and mouthing things Jake couldn't decipher. Tell her something.
He motioned himself--that Ethelda should come in and talk to the crying woman--but she waved him away and walked back out toward the waiting room, leaving him alone. Jake felt foolish just standing there by the desk, so he pulled a chair from the corner and dragged it over to the love seat. He positioned it to face the crying woman, but he wasn't exactly able to face her, since her face was now on her knees. Her arms were around them, too, and her shoulders shook with the force of her sobs.
She stayed that way for quite a while. It seemed like hours to Jake, though it was probably only five minutes or so. But five minutes was a long time, he thought, when you were heaving those great, gut-wrenching sobs as Maggie Ivey was doing. And through it all, he sat there. He was afraid to touch her, so he just rested his elbows on his knees, leaned forward, and waited for her to finish, his heart pounding from all the emotion in the room. At first. But then, oddly enough, after a while he forgot all about his own discomfort, and instead felt pity stirring somewhere in the vicinity of his tight chest, that someone so young and pretty could be carrying burdens that would bring her to such a state.
He wished he could think of something to do or say. He murmured something from time to time. "It's okay," usually. He gave up on "What's wrong?" after the first minute or so, when he realized that Maggie Ivey wouldn't be able to tell him right then even if she had known. Finally, after what seemed an eternity of listening to her tearing cries, the sobs diminished and came farther apart. Jake looked around the room again, more calmly this time, located a box of Kleenex, and rose up from his chair long enough to get it, prompting Maggie Ivey to lift her wet face. He handed her the box without speaking. She mopped her eyes, and with an embarrassed glance at him, blew her nose. Jake shifted on his seat.
"I'm sorry," she finally said, sounding as if she had a bad cold.
"No need to apologize." Jake shook his head and examined his shoes, then couldn't help noticing hers. She had tiny little feet, and she wore loafers, old and a little run-down at the heels, but carefully polished, and a bright new penny in each.
She straightened up, and so did he, but neither one of them looked at the other for another minute. When he glanced at her, Maggie Ivey was dabbing at her eyes and nose, and twisting the Kleenex by turns. She had quite a pile of them on her knee now. Jake finally spied the trash can over by Golding's desk, so he got it and put it by her feet, and with a little flush Maggie Ivey threw the tissues away. Jake decided to leave the wastebasket close by, then sat down again himself and continued waiting. He wasn't sure exactly what he was waiting for, but somehow in the wake of all that emotion he felt Maggie Ivey should be the first one to speak.
She finally did, hesitantly at first, but seeming to gain speed and strength as she went along. Jake leaned back in his chair, rested his hands on his thighs, and listened. It didn't seem like quite the time to correct Maggie Ivey's obvious mistake in thinking he was Dr. Golding, though as she gathered steam, he began to feel uncomfortable again. A few times she paused and he opened his mouth to tell her, but he was slow getting the words out, and each time before he could bring himself to say them Maggie Ivey would begin talking again or shed a fresh batch of tears.
Meet the Author
Linda Nichols lives in Tacoma, Washington, with her family. Handyman is her first novel.
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I'm a Nicholas Sparks fan and he recommended this book on his website. GREAT BOOK! Couldnt put it down.
I have read this book more than once and it is still fresh, inviting and witty. I do believe a sequel with Ethelda and Carson Fuller would be a wonderful continuation
We picked up 'Handyman' on a whim...the cover caught our eye. What a wonderful novel...it captures the reader with a unique twist. Has a general contractor/handyman ever before been the 'hero' in a romance novel? But the real heroine of this novel is Maggie Ivy...the prodigal. We are passing 'Handyman' on to our own prodigal, who, like Maggie, is on a journey of redemption, growing stronger day by day.
I just finished reading 'Handyman' and it really touched my heart. It was really a warm wonderful story about second chances. For a first novel, it kept me interested and 'seeing' the wimpy herione Maggie get stronger and stronger with each chapter was really heartwarming. It really is a fable of sorts. But, methinks I see a sequel concerning Ethelda and Carson Fuller. Bravo, Ms. Nichols -- I look forward to your next book!
The Handyman was wonderfully refreshing, and slightly suspenseful at times. Maggie and Jake are an unusual uplift to the day's normal process. A must read for anyone who still appreciates love's twists and turns!
Maggie Ivey was a single parent. Her four year old son, Tim, needed his tonsils removed and a few other minor, but necessary, medical things done. She lived in a bad neighborhood with worthless locks. She also quit her job when she was hired elsewhere only to find out her new boss had decided not to give her half the agreed on pay, no medical insurance, and for the first year she would be considered 'temporary' with no vacation or sick days, no matter how bad off Tim was! A friend paid for Maggie to go to Dr. Jason Golding's 21-Day Overhaul to straighten out her life. As luck would have it, the doctor began having heart attacks and was in the hospital. Not knowing this, Maggie went to her first appointment and poured out her heart and soul to who she thought was the doctor.
Jake Cooper was half owner of Cooper-Jackson Construction. His high class girlfriend and he had recently split up and Jake was happily getting back to his whole self. While revamping Dr. Golding's office, Maggie showed up and his whole life changed. Since he could not bring himself to embarrass both of them and tell the sobbing woman she had made a mistake, he decided to help her for the 21 days. She would never know he was Jake instead of Jason. She was about to find out that a Handyman in her life was much better than a Psychologist could ever be!
***** Down right edible, Readers! A definite 'Keeper' for your book collection! This is not one to miss. To a lady with overwhelming problems, comes a modern day wizard with just the right spells to cast and make everything perfect! Highly recommended reading! *****
Definately worth reading. It will warm your heart and put a smile on your face. This is a book you would want to share with family and friends.