Books before food (and any sort of comfortable life).
Summary: Julie and Brad Evans are house flippers. They buy low, clean out the old occupants junk, and try to make a profit. Enter Hemmings House on Bedlam Street in scenic Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island. Too good a deal to pass up, but with an ominous secret. The old Victorian Mansion has dwellers that do not want to be dispossessed. As the house reveals it’s past, will the couple’s marriage survive The Flip?
I received this book from the author through Bostick Communications in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. You can also find this review on Goodreads here.
The Flip is centered around a couple, Brad and Julie, who buy foreclosed or low cost properties, renovate them, and then sell them for a profit. After a particularly successful flip, Julie finds the Bedlam House, a property that was once owned by a rich guy in the mid-1800s but was then transformed into a reform school and then a failed bed-and-breakfast. Afterwards, it went into foreclosure, but then the bank abandoned it as well, putting it on sale for $15,000.
The house was built [in 1859] by Frank Hemmings, a land and railroad baron, and inherited by his daughter after he died. Over the years, it had housed one of the secretaries of Teddy Roosevelt when he was president, a World War I fighter pilot now buried in the fields of France, and a sinister spinster. It had never left the Hemmings family until the late seventies, when the last descendent died, alone and childless.
And apparently no one wants it because it’s haunted. Throughout the years, the ghosts that reside in the house drove the family crazy. Literally. Geez, I wonder why that B&B didn’t work out??
Okay, I like Love It or List It, Property Brothers, Flip or Flop, and a few other renovation reality shows. Ghosts scare the utter shit out of me, so yay for that. Also, I like history, so I was excited about this book. Unfortunately, my expectations were too high and it ended up being kind of a disappointment.
The Story: I was excited about the premise of the book, but I feel like this could have been condensed into about half the pages that it was. Or, at the very least, been made more exciting. By 50% of the book, nothing had actually happened. Sure, the ghosts screwed with the people a little, but they didn’t honestly do anything to them. It wasn’t so boring that I had to force myself to go on—it just wasn’t very interesting. And then
finally the turning point of the book happens and it starts to get interesting. But not too interesting, because that would be a tragedy.
“He got angry when I asked him to pick up some dinner. I don’t remember the last time he, you know—”
“You asked him to pick up dinner? Isn’t today his birthday?”
“Shit. I forgot.”
I had a love/hate relationship with the people in this book. On one hand, I felt bad that they were the recipient of all the strange ghost shit because the thought of being haunted just—no. But then on the other hand, the main characters in this book were kind of annoying.
“He’s so testy. Every time I call him, he has no patience for me. He’s not even answering my call now.”
Dulcie ripped apart the donut, considering it. “Stop running after him. The more you push, the more he’ll pull. Don’t call him fifty times a day.”
“I don’t call him that much.” Julie stood, outraged.
“Oh, yes, you do, and more. I don’t call Carlos but once a day, girl. You got to make them miss you.”
Every single character besides Brad and Julie are stock characters, but damn if Dulcie doesn’t give the best advice in the whole entire book. Julie is obviously the overly-attached
girlfriend wife. She is constantly nagging Brad about the Bedlam House. She’ll call him dozens of times to check up on him and see how it’s coming along. Brad has made it perfectly clear that he never wanted this house in the first place because it’s too much work for him to do all by himself, so he wants to flip it and sell it fast. Julie has other plans.
“You know, Brad, we could turn it into a bed-and breakfast again.”
Brad doesn’t like that idea. He says he’d rather sell it. Julie doesn’t let it go.
“ It was a good buy. We could flip [our house] for less money and live there for a bit. Think about it. We could make an income renting out the rooms. There must be fifteen bedrooms there. That way, we could fix it slowly.”
Brad still doesn’t like the idea. You’d think she’d let it go now.
Brad cursed again, long and fluently. “This is going to devalue the house.”
“Not if we turn it into a haunted bed-and-breakfast.”
No, of course not. Because it’s so much easier to piss off your husband and put a strain on your marriage.
I felt like we were told a lot about the characters, but we never really got to know them aside from their opinions on the Bedlam House and the fact that Julie is a controlling nag. Brad was a bit more likeable. (Just a bit, though.) What he wants never seems to matter to Julie, and he knows it. And then Julie gets mad when he tries to take charge.
“Since when do you make all the decisions?”
“Since when do you?” Brad shot back.
Always. The answer is always, Brad. They are two completely different people with two completely different personalities that grind against one another. I see divorce in their future.
The Sentinels: The Sentinels were omnipresent beings that basically kept everything in check. Every time the ghosts created mischief, the Sentinels were there. Well, except that time the female ghost tried to kill Julie. Or that other time she tried to kill Julie. Or that time she burned down Brad and Julie’s house with Julie trapped inside.
Julie has shitty luck.
I found that there was no point for the Sentinels. They weren’t useful enough to be an integral part of the story, nor were they particularly interesting. The whole time I got the impression that they were a higher power, but their purpose is never explained, other than to keep people safe from the ghosts. Which they don’t.
The History & Ghosts: The book alternated a couple of times between the present and 1862. It gave a background to the ghosts’ story while being very realistic. Gerald was the son of a banker, and was even richer than the Hemmings. He wanted to join the army, but his father’s influence had prevented him from seeing battle. He worked under General McClellan and traveled back and forth from Washington D.C. to Cold Spring Harbor in New York. Gerald was completely in love with Tessa Hemmings, the daughter of Frank Hemmings, and still is. For 150 he’s stayed by her side, even though she’s very indifferent towards him.
“Are you too tired for a dance?” he asked softly.
“I’m never too tired for a dance.” Her dark eyes darted behind him, looking for someone else.
“You’ve danced with everyone at least twice. There is no one left but me, Tessa,” he snapped.
“There is always someone else.”
I found their relationship in 1862 much more interesting than their relationship in the present day. While Tessa was once cold and indifferent towards him, now she makes a point to do and say things that hurt him.
“You were invisible while you were alive, and now you’re just as invisible now that you’re dead.” […] “I can’t stand you. No matter how much you wait, I’ll never love you. You can’t make me love you. I wish you weren’t here. […]”
And on top of that, Tessa has turned into a real whore over the years, as if she wasn’t on her way there already in 1862.
It was obvious she liked him. She couldn’t take her eyes off his body. She swirled around him. Gerald hated her sighs of delight. Gerald called her name but was ignored, his fury growing when Tessa swiped her hand down the intruder’s backside.
She doesn’t want Gerald. She’s never wanted Gerald. The only thing she wants is to screw Brad. That’s what she mainly does in the book. Touch Brad, kiss Brad, possess Julie so she can screw Brad. (Seriously, Julie has THE SHITTIEST luck.)
Overall Impression: I actually would have been okay with the books flaws. And then the ending happened and everyone was saved because of luuurrrveee. It honestly made no sense considering there was no basis of love to be found anywhere for one of the characters.
Gee wonder who. Insta-love strikes again. Considering everything OTHER than the ending, this story was decent. Not great, not terrible. Just okay, as long as you don’t get me started on the psychic.