A cute but rather flat romance between a struggling B&B wanna-be and the successful owner of an independent brewery in the small resort town of Keene’ s Harbor in Michigan.
It’s a cute but standard heroine needing rescue with the gallant hero saving the day—but totally respecting her independence. The whole premise with the family summer home being in danger of being foreclosed just doesn’t work for me. Her parents are wealthy so how would the house have even gotten to a point of foreclosure?
Anyway, the secondary plot is where all the true tension exists with someone sabotaging Matt’s brewery.
I cracked up at the sons-in-law comment about Spaghetti Tuesdays:
…Maura and Anne’s husbands…have coming to Spaghetti Tuesday but never really making it into the house down to an art.
I can sympathize with Kate’s inability to cook, but somehow, throwing cocktail onions in the bouef bourguignon is just beyond the pale. Nice realization for Kate about those sit-down dinners her mother always insisted upon. Her parents’ love for each other is also a nice bonus.
Desperate for a job, Kate bursts into Matt’s office demanding that he provide her with employment. After all, if he hadn’t produced that skunked beer, she’d still have a job! It’s an amused Matt who realizes the practical aspects of hiring Kate.
And so Kate meets and develops a deep relationship with Hobart. For which Amber is very grateful. Kate has lots of ideas to help promote the brewery. She even comes along for the annual beer festival to help move merchandise. A pivotal meeting with her ex- that changes everything.
It doesn’t seem to matter that Kate has an eye out, the sabotage continues until it encompasses her. An incident that infuriates Matt and forces him to take very-welcome protective measures, which Stella happily destroys.
Then her parents have the bright idea of having Thanksgiving in Keene’s Harbor at the Nutshell. An event for which Kate is definitely not prepared. Not only can she not cook, she’s living with Matt. A concept her very conservative parents will never understand.
Kate Appleton is recently divorced, lost her job, and desperately in need of money to rescue her family’s summer home, the Nuthouse, turning it into a bed-and-breakfast. Larry and Barb are her parents; Matt’s mom remembers some wild nights with Barb. Kate’s just grateful her family nickname isn’t Spike. Ella Wade is a Keene’s Harbor local and one of Kate’s best friends. Richard Slate is her ex-husband. Stella is the beloved poodle she misses but which Richard got in the divorce. Which he had his new fiancée Shayla get rid of.
Matt Culhane is still remembered as the town bad boy, even though he’s grown up and provides a lot of jobs in this small resort community with his microbrewery. He’s also the jerk who bought up the mortgage for the Nuthouse and is about to foreclose on it. Chuck is a three-legged dog he rescued with a unique repertoire of barks.
Jerry is Matt’s hospitality manager. Amber, Steve, and Laila are servers in the small restaurant/bar attached to the brewery. Other employees of the microbrewery include Bart Fenner, the brewmaster; Floyd, Bart’s assistant; and, Nan O’Brien is assistant brewer number two. Ginger Monroe is Matt’s office manager in Traverse City; Matt has more than one iron in the fire.
Matt’s family is very close with traditional dinner nights and a keen interest in each other’s welfare. Just ask Matt! Patrick is his father. His mother Mary obsesses with her decorating for each holiday. Then there’s his very-pregnant sister Maura and her husband Todd with their daughter Petra. Rachel is the baby of the family. Lizzie was his best friend when they were kids and now she’s a cop. Anne with her husband Jack.
Harley Bagger runs a bar in town, Bagger’s Tavern. He’s also the one who encouraged Matt to go ahead with his ideas, gave him loans to make it possible. Travis Holby is another independent brewer, Horned Owl Brewing, just not as business-minded as Matt who wants to make an arrangement with Travis. Deena Bowen is gorgeous. And “psycho revenge queen” mean. She’s never gotten over Matt dumping her after one date. Clete Erickson is the town police chief. Marcie Landon runs the town grocery; she’s a bit OCD on lining up the food in the store. Junior Greinwold is the town’s very inept handyman. Starflower Creed and Shay VanAntwerp are Matt’s fellow judges at the karaoke contest. Chet Orowski is another independent brewer who has defaulted big time on a loan Matt made to him. Missy and Torvald Mortenson help out at the beer festival.
The bright green background is framed in leaves of a darker green with an inner border of acorns surrounding the authors’ names and the title.
The title sums it all up, for Matt and Kate do find Love in a Nutshell.