Love in a Nutshell
by Janet Evanovich & Dorien Kelly
(St. Martin's, $27.99, PG)  ISBN 978-0-31265-131-2 
***
Harlequin author Dorien Kelly partners with everyone's favorite crazy lady, Janet Evanovich, in Love in a Nutshell, which is as wacky as it sounds like it ought to be.

Kate Appleton, recently divorced from a unfaithful sleazebag, has taken up residence in her parents' crumbling lakeside cottage with the hopes of restoring and turning it into a bed and breakfast.  Unfortunately for her, foreclosure looms, the house has more problems than benefits, and she's just lost another job.

Feeling that Matt Culhane is to blame for her lost job, she corners him in his office at the Depot Brewery and basically insists that he employ her.  Immediately hit with a case of the hots for her and in a bit of a desperate position himself, Matt hires the crazy woman.  Turns out his business is being sabotaged, probably from within.  Kate’s job?  To work around the brewery and see if she can uncover the culprit before Matt's Brewery as well as his budding side business go down the toilet, to the tune of $20,000 if she's successful.

Twenty thousand would fix a lot of things, plus get her mortgage back into good standing.  Since Matt turns out to be the creep of a loan holder doing the foreclosing, this would be equally beneficial because then maybe Kate could do something about her growing interest in the man every woman in town is in serious lust with.

Love in a Nutshell certainly has Evanovich's knack for quick wit and fast pacing, though the story never really hits a climax and readers likely won't be terribly concerned about who it is setting fires and slashing tires in and around the Brewery.  Kate isn't the kind of kick-ass heroine people will expect from the author of the Stephanie Plum novels nor is Matt a Morelli or a Ranger, but fans no doubt will be thrilled to have a third Evanovich title inside of a year and will find Love in a Nutshell no less satisfying than Smokin' Seventeen.

--Sarrah Knight


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