In this book, we meet 34-year-old Daphne Ballinger. She's been working at The New York Times as a wedding writer for 12 years, and she's been living in the same apartment for that same amount of time. She's also still single. When she moved to New York, she had big hopes and dreams. But 12 years later, things aren't as great as Daphne had hoped. As someone who works in New York, I gotta say, I totally felt for Daphne. It's like author Melody Carlson writes on page 6:
"She remembered when she had been in love with New York. Some called it the Big Apple Honeymoon Phase, but it had lasted several years for her. However, like so many things in her life, it had gotten a little tarnished and dull over the years. And as she emerged from the subway, back into the drizzling rain and noisy traffic, she didn't much like the city."
Sad news from back home whisks Daphne away from New York, and she arrives in small town Appleton. Her Aunt Dee has died, and Daphne soon discovers that her aunt has left everything to Daphne. But there are some conditions that if not met after one year mean that Daphne has to forfeit everything. The conditions may seem crazy, but so are all the secrets that Daphne discovers about her late aunt as well as Daphne's decision to make a go of it in Appleton. At least for a year.
I thought this book was going to take us through that whole year, but (and I love Melody Carlson for this) it doesn't! It only takes us through May to July. So there is still so much more to happen for Daphne, and I'm intrigued to find out what else is in store for her during her year-long stint in Appleton.
This is a sweet, charming, and hopeful story, and I would love it if someone made it into a movie or a Hallmark TV mini-series, at least.
The only thing I take issue with is that I find it hard to believe that a 34-year-old woman who lived in New York for more than a decade NEVER got into social media. Oh really? There were times I felt that Daphne was written a little older than she's supposed to be. Or maybe that's just her personality. She's kind of an old soul. But still. A 30-something without a Facebook page? No.
Also, I thank Carlson for this PSA about New York:
"'What about fun clothes?' Olivia asked. 'Like for nights on the town? I figured New Yorkers usually dressed to the nines, went out clubbing or to shows, basically having all kinds of fun.'
'I think Sarah Jessica Parker helped to create that illusion.'" - page 138
Lock, Stock, and Over a Barrel is available to purchase now. It's published by B&H Books. I received a free copy of the book at Book Expo America with no obligation to review the book, but I reviewed it anyway and have given my honest opinion.