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With a combination of an unbreakable mother-daughter bond and a delightful DIY perspective, Barbara Delinsky’s latest novel is an ideal summer read. Set in the small suburb of Williston, Massachusetts, BLUEPRINTS follows the MacAfee family as their home renovation business faces catastrophe, change and, ultimately, rebirth.

Fifty-six-year-old carpenter Caroline MacAfee and her architect daughter, Jamie, are the stars of “Gut It!,” a popular home makeover show. Divorced for many years, Caroline is fiercely independent and strong. Jamie, meanwhile, is highly talented, competitive and smart. Although they are alike in many ways, Delinsky has created a perfectly balanced, lovable pair. Not only colleagues but also best friends, they have become local celebrities known for their skilled work and family-friendly company. Roy, Caroline’s ex-husband and Jamie’s father, also helps to promote the business by keeping up with the locals and constantly scouting new opportunities. Although Jamie has always considered herself her parents’ daughter, even she cannot ignore Roy’s poor treatment of Caroline, particularly with regards to his significantly younger new wife and their son, Tad.

"Delinsky’s prose is never lacking for drama, which would make BLUEPRINTS a terrific read to begin with, but her extensive research into architecture and carpentry are what really makes this book special."

Caroline, Jamie and the rest of the female-dominated cast have just wrapped up the latest season of “Gut It!” when Jamie receives an urgent call from her father demanding a private meeting. It is here that Jamie learns that she will be the new host of the show, replacing her own mother. Although it is a good professional move for Jamie, she is horrified at the prospect of hurting her mother, especially when she is such a fan favorite who is only being replaced because “sex sells.” Hoping to lessen the blow and protect her mother --- at least until she can change the producers’ minds --- Jamie offers to tell Caroline herself. Naturally she cannot bring herself to do so, causing a huge rift between the two when Caroline finds out on her own. Insecure about her age and devastated by the loss of the job she has loved for so long, Caroline cannot help but feel betrayed by Jamie.

Thinking that her life could not possibly get any worse, Jamie is stunned when she is awakened by the police late one night as she is sleeping next to her fiancé, Brad, a lawyer for MacAfee Homes. Roy and his wife, Jess, have been in a horrible car accident, leaving their young son orphaned. As his guardian, it is up to Jamie to take him in as Brad and Caroline tend to funeral arrangements, business meetings and maintaining a strong family front. With Caroline and Jamie still not speaking, however, Jamie’s newfound motherhood could not come at a worse time. Even Brad, her loyal fiancé, has become distant and aloof, leaving her mostly on her own to raise Tad.

The death of Roy has a profound effect not only on MacAfee Homes as a company, but also on the personal lives of its employees. After all, Roy was healthy, charismatic and powerful. If he could die in such a random, tragic way, who’s to say it couldn’t happen to anyone else? Contractor and “Gut It!” eye candy Dean Brannick truly takes this message to heart and begins to recognize and accept his feelings for Caroline, his longtime friend. Jamie, meanwhile, starts to truly examine her relationship with Brad. When she meets a handsome man on the playground who both guides her through parenthood and acts as a sounding board, she can’t help but notice Brad’s shortcomings.

Although they are apart for the first time in their lives, Caroline and Jamie’s lives begin to run parallel paths as they each discover what it means to be a woman, mother and successful businesswoman. While Caroline tries to deny the handsome and protective Dean, Jamie begins a new romance with a man who will care for her and Tad as her father never could. When a competitor puts pressure on both the show and the company, mother and daughter alike must take charge in their respective roles and come to a new agreement about their relationship to one another. With the clock ticking, these strong women prove that there is more to MacAfee Homes than local connections and Roy’s reputation.

Delinsky’s prose is never lacking for drama, which would make BLUEPRINTS a terrific read to begin with, but her extensive research into architecture and carpentry are what really makes this book special. Anyone who has ever spent a sick day binge-watching HGTV will appreciate Delinsky’s careful attention to detail and beautiful imagery, particularly when she describes stately Victorian homes under lush greenery. With the right amounts of dysfunction, love and romance, BLUEPRINTS is perfect for mothers, daughters and DIY-junkies alike.

Reviewed by Rebecca Munro on June 11, 2015

by Barbara Delinsky

  • Publication Date: May 31, 2016
  • Genres: Fiction, Women's Fiction
  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
  • ISBN-10: 1250007062
  • ISBN-13: 9781250007063