Fiction, Romance

Lock, Stock, and Over a Barrel, by Melody Carlson

9781433679308_p0_v1_s260x420Daphne Ballinger is stuck. Her job, living situation, and love life are going nowhere. Years ago she moved to New York in hopes of becoming a writer and living an exciting life, but, somewhere along the way, everything plateaued.

Back in her home town of Appleton, her dad’s older sister, the loving, eccentric Aunt Dee, has just died. Daphne is shocked to learn that she is the sole heir of Aunt Dee’s entire estate. The only problem? She must fall truly in love and get married within a year or she loses it all.

With this monumental condition hanging ominously over her head, Daphne decides to be a good sport and move back to Appleton for the year. Coming full circle from a life she was determined to leave, she learns that Aunt Dee left her a lot more than just her estate.

Lock, Stock, and Over a Barrel is the first in Melody Carlson’s Dear Daphne series. The second book, Dating, Dining, and Desperation, came out in March 2014. It’s next on my reading list.

If the premise seems a little hokey, well, maybe it is. Beyond that, however, is a delightful story full of well-rounded characters that enter and exit Daphne’s life. She is a protagonist that you root for and that women, especially, will identify with on her journey.

Carlson’s books are usually entertaining, light but not ridiculous, and this one is no different. For others like me who have no tolerance for racy fiction, her writing style is very satisfying. It is a fun novel for this busy holiday season, or to read on the treadmill, as I did.

8.5 out of 10 Stars

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