Lily Stewart has reached a crossroads in her life. Her painting career hasn't taken off, her best friend has changed beyond recognition, her relationship is a constant 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. From ten years ago!
Lily decides it's time to gather up the pieces of her life, and the first item on her list of things to fix is that annulment... but you can't just send a text ten years later reading, "Hey BTW we are still married." This is something that must be addressed in person, so Lily decides to track down her husband - the charming, enigmatic man she connected with all those years ago.
Ben Hutchinson left a high-profile dot-com lifestyle behind to return home to his family and the small lake town he loves, Minnow Bay. He's been living off the grid with the express purpose of making it hard to be found—so the last thing he expects is a wife he didn't know he had making her presence known.
By chance, Lily finds her way to the magical Minnow Bay Inn. There she will discover not just a place to lay her head, but new friends, new inspiration, and maybe even a new chance to fall in love.
Kelly Harms lights up the page in this story of the surprising beauty of past mistakes and the unexpected pleasures of correcting them.
Lily is one of those people who just can't get their act together and she doesn't like things to change. She is a talented painter but she has a sort of artist's block and has been painting the same scene from her apartment window for months. Her romance with Mitchell, who is also her gallerist, is stagnating and when she loses her apartment, it is the final straw. She tries to turn to Mitchell, her best friend Renee and even her brother for help but none of them want to help her. Renee and Mitchell don't even want her to stay with them temporarily. So when she comes across the annulment form she never took care of from a Vegas wedding to a stranger ten years ago, Lily decides to go to Minnow Bay and see him in person.
Minnow Bay is one of those small towns where everyone knows everyone else's business and there are an awful lot of Hutchinsons in town. Lily is surprised by what she discovers when she meets Ben again. He is nothing like the suave playboy she expected. He lives in a shack without heat for one thing. He is less than pleased to see her at first, sure she is there for his money. While they start off on the wrong foot with each other, it is plain to see that Ben and Lily have some unfinished business.
On the surface this appears to be a romance novel but it is so much more. Lily makes some really good friends like the innkeeper, Colleen who is struggling with her own issues or Jenny, a gallerist who helps Lily get back into art. There is also Simone, a teenage artist who reminds Jenny of herself as a teen. Lily's new friends help her heal and rediscover herself and what she wants out of life. Does she want to go back to New York and Mitchell or does she want to start over in Minnow Bay? Of course there is some romance and the town seems determined to get Lily and Ben back together again.
Overall I found this to be a charming and delightful story. There were times when I wanted to shake Lily for not realizing the truth but I liked the journey she takes and seeing her change. While Mitchell is a one-note character I appreciated the depth brought to Lily's relationship with Renee. I initially wanted to throttle Renee for being a bad friend but there is some history between them and things do get better.
Although this book was published in the summer I think it would be perfect to read this winter in front of a fire with a mug of coffee or tea. I could see this being made into a Hallmark movie (and I mean that as a compliment). Other similar books include Mystic Summer by Hannah McKinnon, If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins, The Guest Cottage by Nancy Thayer and The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop and Cafe by Mary Simses.
Note: I received an ARC for review purposes courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss