Second Time Around (Book Review)

  • Author: Melody Carlson
  • Publisher: Revell
  • Now Available
  • Synopsis: As her children “move on,” Mallory Farrell returns to her youthful stomping grounds in small-town Portside, Oregon— where she reunites with acquaintance (and heartthrob) Grayson Matthews.
  • Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher. Opinions expressed are my own.

Scripture Connection

This is an instance where I don’t see a strong connection to a particular Scripture or spiritual theme. In the interest of disclosure, it has been almost a week since I finished the book, so I may be overlooking something.

Spiritual Themes

Mallory prays, here and there.

There’s a reference or two to people being more important than things.

What I Liked

I feel a sense of homecoming when reading a Melody Carlson novel. Although this was a spring/summer read, it was such a cozy reading experience. As usual, Carlson’s writing style was sweet and engaging, and the premise, narration and plot captured my interest, early on in the reading. I was looking forward to reading about Mallory’s Portside adventure, and very much enjoyed the experience. I often gobble up Melody Carlson books, and Second Time Around was no exception.

Although there is definitely a lot of repetition between books (i.e., frequent small town settings, interior design inclusion, similar characters), I like to read Carlson’s work and see how the variations in plot play out. Plus, these themes are fun! It’s exciting to walk alongside Mallory as she inherits a new shop and puts her interior design skills to use in a new way.

I like the small town setting, and I think the author does a great job walking readers through renovation/restoration plots. I also think there’s a big market for this sort of plot, judging by the number of home improvement TV shows. Carlson has a background in interior design, which shines through in her knowledge of the subject, and in her detailed descriptions of interiors.

The use of the “Romance” definition, alluding to mystery, was pretty cool. I had never heard such a definition, but I really liked it, and it made for a neat store name, too.


Although Mallory is a Christian, there’s no indication that her love interest is.

Romance is “clean” in terms of physicality, with very little (and non-descriptive) kissing.

Respectful Discussion

There’s a certain scene where Mallory briefly feels bad about something she’s done, and is concerned she’s overstepped. I was surprised that we really didn’t get to hear more from Grayson, about this. It’s basically just Mallory feeling temporarily awkward, and then moving on with no further discussion. Carlson romances are often shallow, but I feel that this was a very obvious opportunity for (just a little) more development. That said, I really do enjoy these super light romances.

Recommendation Status

Although Melody Carlson has written many books, lending to some clear similarities between her books, I will say that I did very much enjoy Second Time Around. While it reads similarly to other small town books of hers (I’m thinking Dear Daphne, off the top of my head), I don’t have a problem with that because I do like her small town books. Recommended for readers who enjoy light romance with an interior design angle, or romance set in a small town. This would make a delightful beach read!

Published by Stephaniesninthsuitcase

Hi, there! My name is Stephanie and I’m a Fresno, CA native. After studying at Biola University, I received my MLIS (Masters in Library Science) from San Jose State University. I live with my mom, poet Kimberly Vargas Agnese, and serve as her unofficial agent. We reside at MeadowArc, a food forest in its infancy. I am called to, and passionate about, purity. In fact, the name Agnes means “pure.” Before I was born, my mom felt led to include the name Agnes in her name, and in the names of her children. My full, hyphenated name includes 26 letters (but not the whole alphabet).

2 thoughts on “Second Time Around (Book Review)

  1. Stephanie,

    Just checking in to see how you and your mom are doing. Lynne’s mom is in the middle of a cancer brother, as is my brother Bob. But my sons Josh and Joel are doing well. Joel’s little 2 year old Lincoln certainly brightens things up and reminds us of the future.

    Hope all is well. How is your job doing?


    __________________________________ JIM PURCELL TUCSON AZ 85705

    520.260.1286 Phone



    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Cousin Jim! Thanks for checking in. My mom’s been pretty sick for several months; she’s getting better now. The job is a lot better, praise God! Glad to hear about little Lincoln 🙂

      How is your health?


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