Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Review: Lock, Stock, and Over a Barrel

Lock, Stock, and Over a Barrel
By Melody Carlson
Dear Daphne series, #1


With high hopes, Daphne Ballinger lands her dream job at The New York Times. But it's not long until writing about weddings becomes a painful reminder of her own failed romance, and her love of the city slowly sours as well. Is it time to give up the Big Apple for her small hometown of Appleton?

When her eccentric Aunt Dee passes away and leaves a sizeable estate to Daphne, going back home is an easy choice. What isn’t easy is coming to terms with the downright odd clauses written into the will.

Daphne only stands to inherit the estate if she agrees to her aunt's very specific posthumous terms -- personal and professional. And if she fails to comply, the sprawling old Victorian house shall be bequeathed to . . . Aunt Dee’s cats.

And if Daphne thinks that’s odd, wait until she finds out an array of secrets about Aunt Dee's life, and how imperfect circumstances can sometimes lead to God's perfect timing.

My thoughts

Lock, Stock, and Over a Barrel is a light, fun, escape-type read that brings home an important spiritual message at the end. The small-town feel of Appleton is delightful - from its village shops and Aunt Dee's Victorian home, to the friendly people. The story doesn't have a lot of action, but arrives at a satisfying conclusion, with much more to come in the series.

Daphne is an extremely likeable character, who at times seemed more immature than I would expect from a 34-year-old, especially in her struggle with male relationships. The "marriage clause" in Aunt Dee's will had turned her into "an ironic sort of gold digger." Her indecision in one particular relationship frustrated me, but there was a gradual maturing.

There's not much spiritual content until the end, but it's powerful when it comes. At a singles' gathering, Pastor Andrew shares from his heart:  "I was looking for a human being to fulfill me and make me whole, when what I needed to do was to allow God to fulfill me and make me whole. Suddenly it was crystal clear that until I reached that place where God was making me whole, I wouldn't have all that much to offer to a soul mate."

This novel is good for those who enjoy a light, relaxing read with a small-town feel. I'm definitely interested in seeing how Daphne's story continues to unfold. Rating:  3 stars (based on the rating system on my sidebar)

Melody Carlson

Melody shares her thoughts at the end . . .

      I hope you've enjoyed getting to know Daphne as much as I have. I love inventing characters whose lives are unfulfilling, or disappointing, or just plain stuck. . . . I get to create characters and situations and challenges - and make it as messy as I like. And then, just like that, I can start to clean it up and straighten things out. Sure, it might take some time and some work, but eventually I can give my character a wonderful second chance.
      I continue to believe that God is the real giver of the best second chances. And I believe that just as Daphne gets the opportunity to change the general direction of her life, if we remain tuned in to God, he will show us the better way to go.
      One of my favorite Scriptures is: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths" (Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV).

To learn more, visit Melody's website at

See the FIRST Blog Tour post here:

This book was provided by FIRSTWildCard and B&H Publishing in exchange for my honest review.


  1. This sounds like a good one. I love those reads that I don't have to focus to read, just sit back, relax and enjoy the story unfold. I dont think I have read this author before.

  2. Amy, Melody Carlson has written tons of books, both YA and adult, but I haven't read many yet. If you read Christmas-themed fiction, you've probably read one of hers.

    Some reviewers say this isn't one of her best. It's slow at times, but I liked it enough to follow up with the main character. But it was published by B&H, and they're shutting down their fiction line, so I don't know what will happen.

  3. It amazing how when you read the book and get to know the authors a little more personally, and their publishers, it is easier to understand what all they have to go through to get a book published. Between the research, editing, deadlines, publishers changing things... it is a lot of work. I love Christian fiction. I have learned so much about just coping with life from it, and I know our world really needs good books!!