REVIEW: The Matchmakers of Minnow Bay by Kelly Harms

Posted September 2nd, 2016 by in Blog, HJ Recommends, Review, Women's Fic - Chick-lit / 6 comments


In The Matchmakers of Minnow Bay: A Novel by Kelly Harms, Lily Stewart thought she’d be further along in her painting career and her love life than she is now in her late thirties. Her boyfriend barely has time for her unless it pertains to her art and even her best friend makes her feel like she’s letting everyone down. The final straw is getting an eviction notice after barely being a few weeks late on her rent. So as Lily packs up her meager belongings and finds a ten-year-old letter in her junk drawer with a form she never filled out to annul her quickie Vegas marriage, a plan begins to take form.

‘I want to get this over with and go home to Chicago. I want to go back in time before I knew about this marriage, far enough that I pay my rent on time and never have to open that kitchen drawer.’

Lily locates her ‘husband’ Ben Hutchinson in a small Wisconsin town called Minnow Bay. With nowhere else to really go, she packs all of her worldly possessions in her car and heads from Chicago to the small town where she hopes to get un-married quickly. But right away Lily is welcomed to the town and finds herself smitten with its picturesque beauty and the interesting people she meets. Ending things with handsome Ben turns out to be more complicated than she thought it would be. Especially with the locals all pushing them to give their relationship a real try first.

“I’m trying to turn over a new leaf. Work harder, pay my bills on time, be an adult, mend my relationships, spend my time and energy on my art.”
“That all sounds really good.”
“And stay away from you.”
“Huh,” is all he says. “Based on our previous interactions you’d think I’d be fine with that. But I’m not. The problem is, I can’t stop thinking about you.”

Reading The Matchmakers of Minnow Bay was truly a unique experience. With a heroine who bumbled her way through relationships and a painting career, a husband she didn’t realize she had, and a town filled with quirky but likable people pushing the two of them together, this novel had me chuckling many, many times.

‘There are days in Minnow Bay when I think that I should probably have the words “Will Someone Please Tell Me What’s Going On?” made into a T-shirt.’

I’ll be honest. I wasn’t so sure I could grow to like Lily, our heroine. She was kind of a flighty, eccentric artist who was treated very poorly by, well, everyone in her life. I so wanted to see her stand up for herself and make her own decisions. And she did, eventually, by the end of the book, going with her gut instincts and doing what she felt was right. Not what everyone else around her was pushing her to do. Lily was still rather naive in some ways all through to the end and she didn’t always ‘see the forest for the trees’ which led to some interesting predicaments. It was quite entertaining, though.

Ben was a complicated guy with a very big family, all pretty much living in Minnow Bay. I really liked him for the most part, although he did have his own moments where I got frustrated with his attitude or choices. It wasn’t clear until the last quarter or so of the book as to what his situation, being back in Minnow Bay, was all about. I won’t spoil the surprise but I can say that Ben *was* the nice guy he appeared to be from the start. I did love how he and Lily had a nice rapport between them and of course they shared that undeniable attraction that caused them to get married in Vegas in the first place.

The story itself alternated back and forth with passages from the past and the present which kept things lively, explaining how Lily and Ben met as well as her history with her best friend Renee. I have to say that I sort of fell in love with the local folks in Minnow Bay. (I can’t say the same for the people in Chicago…) They were comical, a tad–okay, a lot–manipulative, and they took in Lily as one of their own right away. From innkeeper Colleen to gallery owner Jenny to funky teen Simone, they made things lighthearted and unpredictable. And to me it seemed like with each new character we met, this book picked up steam and kept that pace going till the end.

The Matchmakers of Minnow Bay turned out to be a heartfelt personal journey taken by Lily as everything crumbled around her. I think readers will enjoy watching her thrive personally and professional in the small town atmosphere and find friendships that were solid and genuine.

Book Info:

4SPublication: Published August 9th 2016 | Thomas Dunne Books |

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.



6 Responses to “REVIEW: The Matchmakers of Minnow Bay by Kelly Harms”

    • shygirl19748

      Thanks, Tammy! It was a tiny bit slow at the start but it turned out to be quite charming and fun.

    • Michele H

      Right? It was rough going for a bit. I’m not sure if I just got used to the author’s writing style or if the character grew on me. Either way it ended up okay. 😉