Kelly Harms writes a novel that is what I call, to borrow a term from the foodie world, a "palate cleanser". By this I mean after reading something heavy duty, like Sisi, I needed something fun, light, and entertaining to shake off the really sad story of Empress Elisabeth. Something that would reset me for more good books in March.
Matchmakers is chick-lit set in Chicago and Wisconsin. Lily Stewart is in her early 30's, and still lives in the lousy apartment she first rented 10 years before after graduating from art school with her best friend, Renee. Her dream was to make her living from her painting, and live a wonderful, carefree life in Chicago. Now ten years later, she's broke, her paintings aren't supporting her, and she's just been evicted from her apartment. With only one place left to stay for a few days (her step-brother's place), she's packing up when she finds an envelope hidden in her kitchen drawer. Oops. It's the annulment papers she was supposed to sign 10 years ago after a quickie Vegas wedding to a stranger.
Except she forgot to sign them. She's been married to this man for 10 years. Lily, with the help of Renee, her college bestie now turned lawyer and married to Lily's ex-college boyfriend, tracks him down to Minnow Bay, WI. Ben Hutchinson is a computer science high school teacher and no longer the rich computer guru Lily met on that night in Vegas. She decides the only decent thing to to is to travel to Minnow Bay, find Ben, and apologize in person and hand him the signed papers.
Of course not all goes as planned. Lily ends up prolonging her stay in Minnow Bay, meets some great people along the way, and struggles to figure out her life and her awakened attraction to Ben. Minnow Bay is not Chicago, and Lily's gallery owning boyfriend (who's a creep) is expecting her back in Chicago. But whatever kept Lily blocked from painting with her heart in Chicago is gone in Minnow Bay, and she finds herself getting inspired by everything around her. Does she stay or does she go back to Chicago? Are the people in Minnow Bay as kind and friendly as they appear to be? What about Ben?
Lily's got a lot to figure out. She's not a bad character, but there were certainly times when I wanted to shake her. She's pretty naive about money, people's motives, and the art world. It's time for her to grow up. Heck, I'd move to Minnow Bay in a second if it actually existed. Sounds like a wonderful place.
Rating: 4/6 for an entertaining mix of chick lit, romance, a bit of the art world, and small town friendships. I really enjoyed the folks of Minnow Bay.
Available in hardcover and e-book. It will be out in paperback in August, 2017.