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Love in a Nutshell

(Culhane Family #1)

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  16,332 ratings  ·  1,588 reviews
Kate Appleton needs a job. Her husband has left her, she’s been fired as a magazine editor, and she only wants to go to her parents’ summer house, The Nutshell, in Keene’s Harbor, Michigan, and make a Bed and Breakfast inn. Matt Culhane needs a spy in his brewery for a saboteur, and Kate is new in town. But Kate despises beer and nobody trusts her.
Hardcover, First Edition, 310 pages
Published January 3rd 2012 by St. Martin's Press
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Average rating 3.64  · 
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 ·  16,332 ratings  ·  1,588 reviews

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Sep 10, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one. Ever.
Ok, admittedly, I haven't read many of Evanovich's books, but I'd heard that she was funny.
This wasn't funny. Like, not even a little bit!


This was a total cornball mystery/romance that relied on hokey shit to keep the plot (loosely using that word) going. Every single dried up, goofy, overused trope was effectively rolled up into one dumbass story.
They even threw in a 3 legged dog to show that Matt was a good guy.
Oh my! If he rescued a hound that was missing a limb, he must be a GOOD GUY! Right? Riiiiight?!

Ok, admittedly, I haven't read many of Evanovich's books, but I'd heard that she was funny.
This wasn't funny. Like, not even a little bit!


This was a total cornball mystery/romance that relied on hokey shit to keep the plot (loosely using that word) going. Every single dried up, goofy, overused trope was effectively rolled up into one dumbass story.
They even threw in a 3 legged dog to show that Matt was a good guy.
Oh my! If he rescued a hound that was missing a limb, he must be a GOOD GUY! Right? Riiiiight?!


Ok, so Kate (recently divorced & jobless) moves into her family's summer home in {generic tourist town} and tries to start over. The family home is called The Nutshell. Get it? Love in a Nutshell!


Not only is Kate unemployed and unlucky in love, her ex-husband got custody of her beloved poodle in the divorce settlement. Because the amputee hound just wasn't enough dog for this book. And the poodle thing is pounded into the story over and over and over again.
Boo-hoo! I miss Stella! Wah! I miss my dog!
Just...enough already! It's a dog. Seriously!
And, yes, I get that dogs are people too. *rolls eyes* But once we finally get to meet Stella, I couldn't reconcile why the fuck Kate wasn't absolutely thrilled to get rid of her. There was quite literally nothing even remotely lovable about the damn dog. She was just a giant pain in the ass that growled and...growled more.


The love part of this felt like it was some weird PG teen movie shit. If there was a ridiculous reason for them to almost kiss...but NOT! was stuffed into the story. Over and over and over and over these two did their little will-they-won't-they dance. At one point, she was even living at his house (b/c DANGER!), and they didn't even get it on. Even though, by that point, they had both admitted to reallyreallyreally liking each other.
But the Growling Poodle stopped them.
Because it's not like you could have tossed her in the bathroom and shut the door or anything. If a dog growls...sexytimes are OVER!


By the halfway point I had given up on liking the romance, so I decided to focus my energy on liking the mystery. But the 'mystery' was so ridiculous that I had a hard time keeping my eyeballs from rolling out of my head.
Someone is sabotaging Matt's brewery!
Which is why he hires Kate. You know, in the hopes that this new girl will hear or see something that will point to the culprit.
No. Really. I'm serious.
It starts out as small stuff, but quickly escalates!
OhMyGod! How will they ever figure out who is setting fire to his dumpster, or leaving the cooler doors open?! It's impossible! Not even Columbo could solve this mystery!
Maybe, just maybe, Matt could install a camera system in his brewery?
Because that would have solved the problem within the first 5 pages.
Just sayin'.


And I know what you're thinking.
Well, maybe he can't afford a camera system, Anne?
He's going to pay Kate $20,000 to find the saboteur. $20,000!
He can afford a few cameras.


Bottom line, I thought this is the opposite of well-thought out, funny, and romantic.
I listened to the audiobook, and the woman who read the story did a good job, though. So...there's that.
DJ =^^=
Jan 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
WARNING for audiobook readers:
Janet Evanovich uses the same narrator that she used with the Stephanie Plum series. My only complaint about the narrator is that the character voice sound just the same. A few times I caught myself saying that's Stephanie, Joe Morelli or Ranger's voice.
Barbara ★
I really love these quirky romances by Janet Evanovich and assorted co-writers. They are cute with hottie guys, ditzy (but hilarious) heroines and screwy circumstances. Who could ask for more in a funny romance.

Kate Appleton has returned to her childhood vacation home with the hopes of renovating the cottage into a Bed and Breakfast. Unfortunately her parents have allowed the mortgage to go into arrears (is that the correct term?) and now someone has purchased the property and is try
Dec 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Song for summary: Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Queen

This was a slow read for me. The characters were quirky and unique; while the plot was a different take on a small town romance. Although I felt a lack of chemistry between the characters, and the humour seemed a little forced at times; overall this was a highly imaginative love story.
Feb 03, 2012 rated it it was ok
This was an ok book that was a quick light read but nothing that I would highly recommend. I have been a big fan of Evanovich's Stephanie Plum books, but it was hard to tell how much of this was her work and how much was Dorien Kelly's work.

The plot had holes in it. After a divorce, the heroine Kate Appleton moves back to a small town in Michigan where her family has a summer home. Kate plans of fixing the home up and opening a bread and breakfast. Problem is there is a huge mortgage
Sean Logan
Sep 29, 2012 rated it liked it
It's a bit discouraging when an author becomes so formulaic that the publisher holds them to a certain word or page count, and then 9/10ths into the book the writer realizes they had better start wrapping things up. "Love in a Nutshell" is one of these books. Janet Evanovich has perfected the light-romantic-mystery formula with her Stephanie Plum series; however, she may want to look at other authors' techniques for writing and concluding a stand alone book.

"Love in a Nutshell" is a
Apr 18, 2012 rated it it was ok
****2.5 stars**** I know, not my usual fare. I have this need to read everything that Evanovich writes because she penned Ranger Manoso's character. Since then, she hasn't used him properly, but still I read?.... Anyway, this was a quick, ok read for me, I guess. I figured out early on who the bad guy was. Also, it is really, really obvious that Evanovich is having a hard time with sexual tension between the leads and will throw in any even remotely possible twist to stave off a love/sex scene.
Duchess Nicole
Mar 09, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Lovers of light, sweet , PG rated contemporary romance
This was a sweet, lighthearted, nothing special contemporary romance. I think Evanovich has made such a name for herself with her humor and the crazy antics of her characters that I've come to expect it from her non-Plum titles. Sometimes she delivers, but not in this case.

The funniest part about this book was the way that Kate forces Matt in to hiring her at the beginning of the book. Matt is a stand up guy who was the wild boy of Keene's Harbor in his younger days. He's come home and is now n
This book is awful in a stellar way. The plot is like every Janet Evanovich only less funny, sexy, or thrilling. The writing is pretty cheesy, and I have proof:

"She looked up from the cross word puzzle she was doing. "What's a four-letter word for idiot? She asked. "Matt." "Really. Throw me a word." "Dolt." She frowned down at the puzzle, then smiled up at him. "That fits." And it fit him, too. Since when had he not grabbed for what he wanted? "Can you call and reschedule tomorrow's
Jan 21, 2012 rated it it was ok
Kate moves into her family's old summer home when she gets divorced and loses her job with the plan to renovate it and turn it into a bed and breakfast. Only the mortgage was sold and she has to come up with the money to pay the loan in four months. She goes to work for Matt at a local microbrewery as a floater, but she is really a spy for him trying to find out who has been sabatoging his business.

I was really disappointed in this book. I read the book all in one night and can't say that I was
Christopher Hicks
Jan 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was a really fun book. Easy to read and predictable but such a cute storyline with great characters. I hope the author writes more books with these same characters. After reading a couple of books with serious subject matters, it's nice to read some mindless fluff. I really enjoyed this book. It was extremely entertaining.
Bec Sachse
Mar 30, 2014 rated it it was ok
You lost me at the word 'crapola' (or maybe even before that). On a positive note I did actually finish the book. On the negative side, it was like going to see a rom-com and leaving completely unsatisfied - you only just kept watching because the lead guy was eye candy.
Jan 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
Well. I finished it. Despite a lot of reasons that I shouldn't have: dialogue that didn't gel, characters that were not fully drawn, and a terribly done romance. Why then did I finish it? I wanted it to get better. And it went so fast that it was over before I knew it. Fair warning.
Kate Appleton just wants a chance to restart her life. Her husband divorced her, taking her beloved poodle with him, and much of her self-confidence. Movie to Keene’s Harbor, and remodeling her family’s old summer cottage, The Nutshell, into a bed and breakfast is the new start she is hoping for; until she loses her job, and she discovers that the Nutshell needs more than just a touch of paint. In a fit of temper, Kate storms in to Matt Cuhane’s office and demands a job, because she blames him
Sharon Redfern
Dec 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This was a nice light romance from the team of Janet Evanovich and Dorien Kelly. For readers used to the craziness of Ms. Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, this might seem a little tame, but it is an enjoyable read. The two main characters are normal everyday people who find that they need help from each other to get their lives back on track. It is refreshing to read a book that is just plain fun to read.
Kate is divorced and trying to keep her family home so she can start a new life and
Jul 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really cute and simple mystery for those looking for an easy beach read. The romance is a bit rushed but the hilarity of the overall story definitely makes up for it. I was in love with Matt and his very chill attitude from the start. I especially loved when he talked about his dog Chuck's "different barks" signaling different needs--a man who loves animals melts my heart every time!
Aug 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved it. I can't wait to get the next one..but I have a few I need to read first.
2.5-3 stars for what it is, a fluffy, chick lit/romance read with a bit of mystery to it and not a lot of depth. It's like drinking Mountain Dew. Why did I read this? because the reviews were good and it sounded like a good beach-read type book. LJ: "Sassy dialog, laugh-out-loud humor, vastly appealing characters, and an intriguing setting make this fast-paced, suspenseful romance one to imbibe." Bah. Not so much, LJ. It's ok. It's close to that, but a few notches below achieving it. Fast read, ...more
Lorrea - WhatChaReadin'?
Kate Appleton is at a point in her life where things couldn't possibly be worse. She is currently living in Keene's Harbor in Michigan in an attempt to fix up her parent's summer home into a Bed and Breakfast before the new mortgage holder takes over.

Matt Culhane is at a point in his life where things couldn't be better. His Depot Brewery and restaurant is doing great and he has plans for more businesses in the very near future. He does have one small problem, though. Someone seems to be after
Jan 22, 2012 rated it it was ok
This book was just meh. It wasn't great and it wasn't horrible. It fell to just "ok" Maybe its me getting over the whole romance genre. Who knows. It wasn't a thick book by any means so realistically I should have been able to finish in a day maybe two. Well I kept setting it down. I liked the characters for the most part but I felt like the book was lacking something. Just not sure what. I am a HUGE fan of Janet Evanovich books. Her Stephanie Plum series is one of my faves. This book almost fel ...more
Christi Snow
Feb 16, 2012 rated it liked it
My Review:
If you are looking for a light, fluffy romantic read with a dash of suspense and mystery thrown in, this is a good book for you. This book was very entertaining and fun. I loved the brewery setting and I enjoyed Kate and Matt. There isn't anything too deep in this book...not even the romance. Honestly, I can think of only a handful of kisses throughout the entire book. Although saying that, I have to admit that I never did figure out who the bad guy was until it was revealed in t
Sandra Strange
This book, unfortunately, is not worth the time. Some of the dialogue and descriptions were clever, and that's about all the positive I can say about this book. The novel seemed slow, with little real plot. The "mystery" was poorly developed, and the adventure/jeopardy didn't draw the reader into the story because the particular scenes were either slighted over or (toward the end) the reader doesn't really identify with the characters enough to care about their danger. The story feels very much ...more
Oct 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Light and fluffy story about Kate Appleton, a woman desperate for a job if she wants to keep her family's summer house, and Matt, the owner of a brewery who hires her to find who is sabotaging his business.

It turns out that it was (view spoiler) ...more
Mar 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
Well, this one started off strongly, reminding me of how Jennifer Crusie at her best can fill a story with detail that really shapes the character and plot (Faking It--lots of info on art and art dealing and preservation, etc). . . So this one started with lots of restaurant and home brew info, but then suddenly, about 1/3 in, got very thin--random plot events (her house was infested by bees and it only merits a casual one line mention?), baseless adoration (they're suddenly in love with each ot ...more
I love Janet Evanovich and this book, Love In a Nutshell, was just what I needed...a quick rom-com for the weekend. After losing her job, Kate Appleton moves back to her childhood home and wants to update and convert it to a B&B. However, she needs a job in order to pay for all that needs to be done. Matt Culhane is the former local bad boy who is now the darling of the town with his highly successful brewery. Kate talks her way into being offered a job from Matt and then the fun begins. Yes ...more
Jan 17, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: evanovich-janet
This was good. I liked the characters and the story line. But overall this wasn't really a page-turner. This would be more for passing time and/or nothing else to read or do. It wasn't all that exciting but I liked the overall concept of the book. Good Luck!
Erika Hayes
Dec 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
What a great story. It was very Janet Evonavich but I like the difference that seemed to be there. I will for sure read the next in the series.
Jul 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Quick short fun summer read. I enjoyed the characters but thought it ended abruptly! I may try another Janet Evanovich book
Dec 23, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, life
Good easy read. It's a great story, but wasn't immersive though so only gave it 3 stars. It's a fun book, but just not my genre.
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Madison Mega-Mara...: #36 Love in a Nutshell by Janet Evanovich and Dorien Kelly 1 1 Mar 01, 2015 01:19PM  
Does anyone have this 15 107 Apr 11, 2013 10:40AM  
Janet Evanovich B...: Is anyone else reading this one? 12 81 Jul 19, 2012 10:31AM  
Madison Mega-Mara...: This topic has been closed to new comments. Love in a Nutshell 1 3 Feb 26, 2012 05:57PM  

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Janet Evanovich is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Stephanie Plum series, the Lizzy and Diesel series, twelve romance novels, the Alexandra Barnaby novels and Trouble Maker graphic novel, and How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author, as well as the Fox and O'Hare series with co-author Lee Goldberg.

Other books in the series

Culhane Family (2 books)
  • The Husband List (Culhane Family #2)