Janet Evanovich is best known for her Stephanie Plum series beginning with One for the Money. Anyone familiar with that series knows that there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments and quirky characters. With that in mind I picked up Evanovich's latest novel, Love in a Nutshell, co-authored with Dorien Kelley.
In this stand-alone story, Kate Appleton has been fired from her job as a magazine editor and moves to Keene's Harbor, Michigan to live in her family's summer home known as The Nutshell. Kate plans to turn the house into a bed and breakfast but she runs into one problem after another. The biggest problem is that Kate is months behind on the mortgage, the house is in need of major repairs and she is broke. Out of desperation Kate essentially forces brewery/restaurant owner Matt Culhane to give her a job. Matt owns The Depot and lately someone has been sabotaging his business. Matt is sure it is an inside job and decides that Kate, being new to town, can snoop around for him without arousing suspicion. If Kate finds the culprit, Matt will give her a $20,000 bonus.
I had high hopes for Love in a Nutshell. Having read the Stephanie Plum series I expected some wacky hijinks and quirky characters. I knew that Matt and Kate would end up together and that on their road to happiness there would be obstacles to overcome. This is a romance novel after all and given the title of the book I don't think I'm spoiling the story for anyone. Sadly, I was disappointed. Love in a Nutshell had the potential to be a really funny, nice romance story. If I could pinpoint the one big flaw I would have to say it suffers from too many secondary characters and random plotlines that initially seem to be important to the story but fizzle out in the end. Perhaps if this were the first book in a series all the additional characters and plots would serve as a incentive to read the next book, but as a stand-alone all they do is confuse the story and act as filler.
Not everything about this book is bad. There are some hijinks and wackiness surrounding The Nutshell. Kate's house has a lot of problems spanning from bad plumbing to a bee infestation. She is plagued by an incompetent handyman who hauls around a mysterious blue cooler. The best part of the book is the mystery surrounding the saboteur. When Kate is linked to Matt romantically the sabotage moves from petty little annoyances to more destructive and dangerous incidents. This widens the pool of suspects from those who want to ruin Matt's business to those who also want to hurt Matt personally. I honestly had no idea who the culprit was until the big reveal at the end.
I have not read any of Evanovich's other series or stand alone novels. Out of fairness I have to say I probably would have enjoyed this book more if I read it without my Stephanie "Plum" colored glasses.
~Amy, Adult Services
P.S. If you are a fan of Janet Evanovich and want to try similar authors please check out our Read-Alike blog post here.