Title: The Matchmakers of Minnow Bay by Kelly Harms
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction, Romance
Length: 289 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
A young painter, Lily has reached a crossroads in her life. Her career hasn’t taken off, her best friend may no longer be the trusted friend she thought, her boyfriend is a disappointment, and now she can’t keep up with the rising cost of living in the city. With no one to turn to, Lily is forced to move from her beloved apartment, but while packing she comes across a piece of mail that had slipped to the back of her junk drawer: a letter detailing further action needed to finalize the annulment of a quickie Vegas wedding. Ten years ago!
Lily decides it’s time to turn over a new leaf and the first item on her list of things to fix is getting the annulment… but you can’t just send a reply ten years later, “Hey by the way we are still married.” This is something that must be addressed in person. Lily takes to the road to track down her husband – the charming, fun, and sexy man she connected with all those years ago – Ben Hutchinson.
Ben Hutchinson left a wealthy dot-com lifestyle behind to return home to his family and the small town he loves, Minnow Bay. He’s been living off the grid and the last thing he expects is a wife he didn’t know he had to show up on his doorstep.
By chance, Lily arrives at the magical Minnow Bay Inn, and there she will discover not just a place to lay her head, but new friends, a thriving art community, and maybe even the love of her life.
With an appealing small-town setting, an eclectic cast of characters and laugh out loud humor, The Matchmakers of Minnow Bay by Kelly Harms is a engaging journey of self-discovery for lead protagonist Lily Stewart.
Just as Lily’s career is coming together, the rest of her life is falling apart. Evicted from her apartment, her bank account is practically empty, her credit cards are maxed and none of her friends or family are willing to help her out short term. After discovering she is still married to the stranger she married in Las Vegas ten years earlier, Lily impulsively heads to Minnow Bay, Wisconsin to explain the situation to her “husband”, Ben Hutchinson, in person. After their antagonistic meeting, her new friends bolster her flagging spirits and their encouragement provides her the impetus she needs to finally start standing up for herself. After becoming temporarily stranded in the picturesque town, Lily finally begins painting again and she revels in her newfound friendships but she still plans on returning home as soon as possible. Will she rethink her decision once she realizes she has feelings for her soon to be ex-husband?
Likable yet extremely frustrating, Lily is a little immature, rather naive and entirely too trusting of the people in her life. She is incredibly loyal and she finds it easy to forgive the people who hurt her. While Lily is not a shallow person, she takes everyone and everything at face value so she never looks for hidden meanings or delves too deeply below the surface although she is often puzzled by incongruous details. Lily is refreshingly uncomplicated but her lack of guile makes her shockingly easy to manipulate and her self-doubts leave her questioning her judgment so it is fairly simple for anyone to take advantage of her.
However, slowly but surely, Lily begins to come into her own during her stay in Minnow Bay. At first a little dismissive of the picturesque town, she is quite charmed at how easily she is accepted by some her new acquaintances. Lily is surprised yet pleased by her unexpected friendships with B&B owner Colleen O’Donnell and gallery owner Jenny Cho. However, her trust in her newfound friends is fragile and she finds it difficult to believe some of the unsettling information they uncover about someone close to her. Plagued with uncertainty, Lily’s faith is in Colleen and Jenny is shattered after she learns shocking information which leads her to make an impetuous decision that threatens her happiness.
The Matchmakers of Minnow Bay by Kelly Harms is a heartfelt story that is fast-paced and compelling. The town and residents of Minnow Bay are absolutely irresistible and it is incredibly uplifting watching them work their magic on Lily. With an unique storyline, a gruff but loveable hero and Lily’s phenomenal transformation, this wonderful novel is sure to be a hit with fans of contemporary women’s fiction.