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The Fixer by Lee Winter

The Villains Series by Lee Winter is a two part story featured in the books The Fixer and Chaos Agent. This is an opposites attract, ice queen, enemies to lovers, contemporary romance about fighting against the corruption and evil of the world, and also having the courage to fight it within yourself.   

In The Fixer, we meet Eden Lawless, who is an activist and has been since she was in her mother’s womb. She has a clear-cut view of the world — you’re either working for the greater good and trying to make the world a fairer place, or you’re helping the world’s evil thrive.

Eden is hired by a mystery organization to bring down a corrupt mayor with whom she has a checkered past. Eden is up to the challenge even if she does find all the cloak and dagger stuff a bit strange. What she also finds strange is the fact that she can’t stop thinking about her beautiful, if somewhat icy boss, Michelle Hastings. She starts to crave the moments when Michelle’s mask slips and Eden gets a glimpse at what’s underneath.

Michelle Hastings has high, impenetrable, icy walls, which she put in place to protect herself 9 years ago when she chose her career over love. She runs a secret corporation catering to the rich and powerful and can’t afford to show any weakness. Then in walks Eden Lawless, who has a special skillset that Michelle needs. From their first meeting, Eden rattles Michelle, and as hard as Michelle tries, she can’t seem to stop thinking about Eden. It’s inconvenient, especially as feelings that Michelle doesn’t want to face bubble to the surface.

Chaos Agent by Lee WinterEden has an evil mayor to outwit and ghosts from her past to face, so she tries to push thoughts of her boss from her mind. The assignment is only for 10 weeks, so that shouldn’t be too hard, right? As the deadline gets closer, Eden starts to realize how hard it will be to say goodbye to Michelle. Her feelings have grown beyond intrigue and those butterflies she gets in her stomach whenever she has contact with Michelle have intensified. Eden’s hot, secretive boss couldn’t possibly feel the same, could she? Unlikely. Eden knows she’ll have to come to terms with the fact that, once her time is up, there will be no more Michelle. Except, after a successful assignment, and to Eden’s utter surprise, said super-hot but confusing boss hires her to be a permanent part of the team.

Chaos Agent begins with Eden Lawless working in an office for the first time in her life. Who’d have thought it? Certainly not Eden. In true Eden style, she throws herself into the role, excelling at every job she’s given (or so she thinks). Eden starts to enjoy being part of the team and with such an eclectic bunch of people, what’s not to like? Sure, they joke about what they do, but Eden starts to wonder where blackmail and hacking fit into a company that fixes mistakes for the greater good. And what if the boss that causes her stomach to flutter is evil? Does that mean Eden will have to fight her?

Michelle has a sweet, kind, clueless activist in her office and must hide what they do in order to keep her there. Why does Michelle want to keep Eden around? Well, that is a question that Michelle isn’t prepared to answer, even for herself. And what will happen when Eden finds out what they really do? Michelle chose her career over love once and she’s still living with those consequences. Not that these feelings she may or may not have for Eden are love…

The Characters

Rach: I don’t think you can get two people who are more polar opposites than Eden and Michelle, yet, from their first meeting, you get the sense that there is something between them. They’re drawn to each other and it’s fun to watch them battling those feelings throughout the books. They’re equals from the start, both highly intelligent women running a business to ‘Fix’ situations for people, just at opposite ends of the scale.

Tara: I see what you mean, because on paper, they don’t make any sense as a couple. Michelle is cold, calculating, and believes the ends justify any means when it comes to fulfilling a client’s request. Eden thinks the world is all black and white, with nothing in between. And yet, at their core, these women each carry more pain than anyone around them would guess, which drives many of their choices. I appreciated seeing how that one point of similarity leads to so much difference, and ultimately leads them each to change for the better.

What did you think about Eden, Rach?

Rach: I adore Eden, she’s one of those characters that caught my attention and made me like her from the start. She’s witty, funny, and kind, and has an idealistic innocence to her. But she also has a fire and strength that shines through. I really admire how she has the courage to stick to her convictions; if she thinks she’s right, then someone better give her a damn good reason as to why she should change her mind.

Her first meeting with Michelle was first class, Eden had no idea what to make of Michelle and her secret company, yet she doesn’t shy away or play it safe. Eden treats Michelle as an equal, the same way she treats everyone she works with, but you can sense in that first meeting, just how much Michelle intrigues her.  Eden gets a thrill out of making Michelle’s mask slip, and the more Eden gets to know Michelle, the more she craves those moments, and who can blame her? Ice queens showing cracks in their armor are my kryptonite! Eden has a great arc throughout both The Fixer and Chaos Agent, she’s stubborn but for Michelle, she learns to see things in a different light. That’s unusual for an ’ice queen melter’ and it made me love this character even more.

Tara: Yes, I agree that Eden’s arc is unusual and that’s my favourite thing about Eden. In “thawing the ice queen” romances, I generally expect the ice queen to do most of the changing, so I was pleasantly surprised to see how much Eden transforms, too. She’s still fundamentally the same person in that she still wants to make the world a better place at the end of the story. However, Eden comes to learn that things really are not always as cut and dried as she’d thought, because people are fallible and have the capacity to change and grow. Her journey is masterfully crafted because it invites readers to consider how firmly we hold our own convictions and whether we might benefit from keeping our minds open to possibilities we haven’t considered before.

Rach: Let’s talk about Michelle Hastings. I love an ice queen, however, I went into these books expecting Michelle to have to work hard to win me over. She’s an icy, cold, villain, she made Catherine Ayers cry! When we first met Michelle in The Red Files and her reappearance in Under Your Skin, I never in a million years thought she could EVER be redeemed! Yet, by sixteen percent of The Fixer, I was already a goner! She is so tormented by what she has done in her past and shows glimpses of this from early on, so it was hard for me not to like her! The more I read, the harder I fell, and by the time I started Chaos Agent I was head over heels in love and swooning like a love-sick fool. She is so plagued by events in her past, that she has no idea who she is. She broke my heart several times, I was pleading with her to let someone in. I love how Eden throws her off-kilter from the start. Having a bewildered, irritated Michelle was a sight to behold. I wanted her to see herself through her safta’s (grandmother’s) and Eden’s eyes. She’s a complex, compelling character, the more Michelle reveals, the more you come to understand that she carries a lot of deep-rooted emotional hurt. Coming face to face with Eden, a person so far removed from Michelle’s world dislodges her careful compartmentalization of those past hurts and sends her world into disarray.

Tara: It sounds like I may have gone into these books a little differently than you, because I am always fascinated to see how effective redemption arcs for villains can be (or not). Yes, Michelle Hastings ruined the life of one of my favourite characters of all time, but that’s what raised the stakes of the challenge for me. I was thrilled to learn that yes, even Michelle, the person who broke Catherine Ayers’s heart and career, could be redeemed into a character I would root for.

Much like Eden’s journey, Michelle’s surprised me. I’m used to ice queen romances that end with the queen thawing for her love interest, but staying icy with most others. Michelle is different because we see her total transformation. We learn about the events that made her into who she is at the beginning of the story and what drove her to be so awful to Ayers, and in a way that comes across as an explanation and not an excuse. We also see what is likely just the beginning of Michelle’s journey of coming to grips with the impact of those events on her life and her health. I’m sure Michelle can still draw on that well of iciness in times where it will serve her in her happily ever after, but I found it revelatory to walk away from the series seeing her as a transformed person.

Rach: There are so many side characters in this book and what I love is that every one of them serves a purpose. Hannah, Michelle’s sweet but savvy safta/grandmother is one of my favorites, because she helped me see a softer side of Michelle that I could connect with. The amount of ice queens/villains in these books is shiver worthy, all that power-hungry iciness had my heart racing. Another great character is Phelim O’Brian, the fixer’s head of security. I love how Eden made even the big brute melt.

Tara: Oh yes, some of the side characters are fabulous. Hannah, Michelle’s grandmother, is also one of my favourites because she’s warm, yet wily. And I agree that it was fun to see Eden make O’Brian melt too. He’s definitely the kind of person you want in your corner.

Writing style and plot

Rach: I want to talk a bit about the dialogue in these books both internal and between characters, especially from Michelle’s viewpoint. Firstly, it was such a treat to get a look into Michelle’s mind. We don’t often get to see the ice queen’s inner workings, so I reveled in all that icy anguish. The way Winter wrote Michelle’s dialogue alternating between what she was saying, then revealing her inner thoughts was spectacular, it opened Michelle up to us and was both revealing and agonizing. I couldn’t get enough, I was glued to the page during the exchanges between Michelle and Eden, and Michelle and Hannah particularly in Chaos Agent.

Tara: I agree! I very much appreciated being able to see into each of the leads’ perspectives, because Michelle was openly giving very few of her true thoughts to Eden for such a long time. And just as Eden would think Michelle was opening up, Michelle would bring her shields back up to 100%. However, whenever the story shifts to Michelle’s perspective, we could see that Eden has a much bigger effect on Michelle than she could ever know. On the flip side, when we follow Eden, we see that she carries so much more shame and hurt than Michelle would have ever guessed.

Rach: The plot or I should say plots are *chefs kiss.* There are so many different components throughout both books. In The Fixer, we get a lot of perfectly made squares, and when they’re all sewn together at the end, they produce an intricate patchwork quilt. No two squares are the same, but together they make something marvelous.

If The Fixer is a patchwork quilt, then Chaos agent is a puzzle that has all the pieces but no picture to follow! I had to believe in the process, slot together the pieces that fit, and trust that at the end the picture will be revealed. The slow-burn romance runs at an excruciating snail’s pace which is both deliciously frustrating and utterly believable in order for us to accept that Michelle has achieved her redemption!

Tara: Yes, this is probably the slowest burn I’ve ever come across in a romance. They’re not even close to being together by the end of The Fixer, which felt entirely appropriate. Eden and Michelle needed to do a lot of changing and growing to be ready for a relationship, so spreading their story across two books was a great choice. However, in case anyone is wondering, this also means that neither story stands alone.

It’s also worth noting that the tone shifts between the two books, so they work together as a one-two punch. The Fixer is fun and fairly lighthearted, as Eden plots to take down the mayor of her nightmares, and she and Michelle enjoy their nightly Skype visits. Don’t let it fool you, though, because Chaos Agent will grab you by the throat and hold you until the end. It’s a darker, much more complex book that asks deep questions about whether redemption is possible and what that can even look like for someone with a history like Michelle’s. I finished reading it a week ago and I can’t stop thinking about it, because it’s THAT complex and nuanced.


Jenna: This series is without a doubt the best audio I have ever listened to. Angela Dawe simply outdid herself bringing Lee Winter’s brilliant story to life. Honestly, listening to these two books was life-changing for me. I have never been so fully immersed in a story as I was here. Having read the series several times already, I always knew what was coming, yet while listening, I found myself hanging on Angela Dawe’s every word. The way Dawe was able to convey the depth of emotion running through the storyline left me breathless.

Rachel: Yes. To all of this. I too have read these books several times, yet listening to Dawe narrate them is a completely different experience. Winter is a master at writing emotions; however, Dawe still manages to elevate what is written on the page to a level far beyond anything I anticipated. Her ability to bring characters to life is legendary, and for me, these two books are her best work to date. I too was left breathless.

Speaking of characters. I fell for Michelle pretty quickly in the books, but my god, that voice has left an imprint on my heart forever. I am in awe of how Dawe portrayed Michelle Hastings. There is a lot of spoken dialogue vs inner dialogue for Hastings and a lot of the time it’s within the same sentence or paragraph. The emotions are different for each, and Dawe got that, took it, and performed it with heart-aching precision. What did you think Jenna?

Jenna: I completely agree! And I have to admit that the first time I heard Michelle Hastings voice, I shivered. The way Dawe was able to convey Michelle’s spoken and inner dialogue was perfect because I never questioned what I was listening to. Michelle’s turmoil, petulance, iciness, compassion, and stoicism were all portrayed exquisitely.

I didn’t think it was possible to love Eden Lawless any more than I already did, but after hearing her voice and being immersed in her world, I am completely smitten. Her humor, compassion, bravery, intelligence, naivete, anger, hurt, and love were palpable through Dawe’s narration. She’s simply endearing and earnest and the most adorable panda I’ve ever known! Rachel, tell me about your feelings about Eden.

Rachel: Yes, yes, and yes. To all you said. Okay, now, don’t tell all the other melters, but Eden is my favourite. I mean it takes one hell of a woman to not only melt Michelle Hastings, but to see the woman that Michelle can be and literally hold her hand as she works through her past. Dawe made Eden sound exactly how I thought she would in my head. Swoony, swoon, swoon, swoon.

What I love most about both characters is that you hear their evolution, (so to speak), as the story progresses. There are points in the story that you know Eden and Michelle have given in to what they feel for each other and Dawe’s performance changes subtly. It’s brilliant.

Then there’s the rest of the cast. This book has a lot of characters and Dawe gives every one of them a voice and brings them to life. From the doorman who has very few scenes. To the likes of The Mayor, The Senator, Obrian, and Agie. Not one character is given any less of a performance, and this is what for me, makes Dawe such a legend.

Jenna: I agree, Rachel. All of the elements of Angela Dawe’s narration combined with Winter’s brilliant writing make this an absolutely unforgettable series.

Rachel: Absolutely! I have the biggest book hangover, especially after Chaos Agent, and have listened to both books multiple times already. Chaos Agent is the best audio I’ve ever listened to.

Pros And My Favourite Parts

Rach: I love everything about these books! And there’s a lot to love. It’s not just a romance, it’s the book(s) that keeps giving. There are subplots in both books, from family/hometown drama to bringing down an evil secret corporation that had my head spinning! I’ve always said that you never just get one plot in a Winter book. This time is no exception, in fact, she’s taken plotting to a whole new level. And I so loved getting lost in this Winter-Wonderland.

Tara: Oh yes. Everything worked for me too, from the slowest of slow burns to the delicate interrogation of the concept of redemption. Brilliant, from beginning to end.

Cons And Heads Up

Tara: I have no cons for these books. However, I do have a list of content warnings: estranged family dynamics, on-the-page physical assault, off-the-page sexual experience that isn’t assault but was traumatizing nonetheless in a lead’s past, threatened sexual assault of a side character, and dubious consent between Michelle and a different side character way before she and Eden get together.

The Conclusion

Audiobook Review · The Lesbian Review Rachs Favourite BooksTara's Fanfic FaveAudiobook Review · The Lesbian Review Jennas Favourite BooksRach: I adore this author’s books, and The Fixer and Chaos Agent are no exception. These books took over my life for the best part of a week. I went from devouring them in parts to having to take a break because it all got too much, it was exhausting in the best possible way. I immersed myself in the world and I’m still struggling to surface! The Fixer and Chaos Agent are the type of books that you want to pencil into your planner because once you start, they’ll take a hold of you and everything else becomes an inconvenience. These books have everything I love. There’s an ice queen villain whose redemption is stunning and gut-wrenching. An ice queen ‘melter’ who is sweet and clueless but has conviction and fire that rivals most. Sub-plots that are all intricate but fit together perfectly and a beautiful slowest of slow-burn, age-gap romance that will have you swooning throughout both books. There’s mystery and intrigue wrapped around characters that will stay with me forever. Winter has done it again, she’s given me a story that has blown me away, it’s wormed its way into my heart and refuses to move. I already know I’ll read these books many times and I can’t wait to be wowed all over again!

Tara: The Red Files was one of the first books I reviewed professionally, so it holds a special place in my heart. It’s been a few years since I’ve read it and I deliberately didn’t reread The Red Files or Under Your Skin before picking this series up, because I wanted to know if The Fixer and Chaos agent could stand on their own. Not only can they be read on their own, but they’re better books. In my opinion, they’re the author’s best yet.

The Fixer is wonderful, but reading Chaos Agent was transformational. Where I was expecting a fun and interesting romance, I got that plus something akin to philosophy. And while I adored it, I’m not sure everyone will love Chaos Agent, because it is so confronting. It invites us to step back and evaluate how firmly we should be gripping our convictions, especially as we learn new things about ourselves and the world around us. It also points out that people and situations are often more complicated than we might like to admit, so perfectly tidy resolutions are not always possible. I walked away from the ending uneasy and satisfied all at the same time, which to me, is the sign of a brilliant book.

This is a run, don’t walk, from me. Just be sure to read it with an open mind.

Excerpt from The Villains Series by Lee Winter

“Tell me, what did you think of the bronze [sculpture] in the main office?”

“The nude?” Eden clarified.

Was she nude?” The woman tilted her head.

Good question. Did having sculpted transparent gauze all over you make you naked or not? “Yes.”

The CEO regarded her impassively. “Interesting. See, I’d argue no. She has a covering of the cloth, even if one can see through it.”

“It’s irrelevant as a covering if it’s of no use.”

“It’s of use to her. She might find it useful in some way. Maybe it gives her confidence. Or it’s her mask? Or distracts us from something else she hides?”

The hell? Eden blinked at her. “She’s nude,” she enunciated, then stared at her incredulously.

The other woman gave a soft snicker and glanced down at a folder, as if about to ask another question, but Eden was over these weird games.

“Look, can we cut to the chase? Why am I here? What’s the job, please? And, most especially, what’s your name?”

“Ms. Lawless, I’m sure you have many questions,” she began, her voice a mesmerizing, low, almost derisive tone.

“Of course I have many questions.” Was she kidding?

“And I’m afraid I won’t be able to answer most of them. Our clients pay top dollar for secrecy. Our entire consultancy firm runs on the premise their identities will be protected. That is our number-one priority: keeping secrets. So, I cannot tell you who hired us for this project or why.”


“No.” One cold, firm word stopped Eden’s protest dead. “What I can tell you is this: a person who ruined your life once in your hometown is about to have a very bad time of her reelection campaign for mayor. Is that something you’re interested in hearing more about?”

Francine Wilson having a bad time for once in her life? “Yeah,” Eden said hoarsely. “Big yeah.”

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Series: The Villians series

The Fixer

Chaos Agent


Bits and Bobs

ISBN number: 978-3963247460 and 978-3963247491

Publisher: Ylva Publishing

Audiobook Publisher: Tantor Audio

Narrator: Angela Dawe

Lee Winter Online

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Note: I received a free review copy of The Villains Series by Lee Winter. No money was exchanged for this review. When you use our links to buy we get a small commission which supports the running of this site

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