book, Book Review

Once Upon a Winter’s Heart by Melody Carlson

About the Book:18053891
Author: Melody Carlson
Publisher: Center Street
Publication Date: 2014
Source: Amazon Buy
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Genre: Fiction; Contemporary, Romance, Christian
Rating: 4 out of 5

Review: It’s forever the bane of my reading life to never read seasonal books during the season they are using as filler. This past Christmas I was determined to read (and by “read,” I mean actually make it to that last page) a few Christmas novels and did I? Um, no. When this book came around, I figured it was high time I snagged a copy and actually read it. So that’s what I did. Set during the Valentine Day period, it tells the story of the jaded Emma whose trust in love is nothing if not fragile. Her grandparents were the prime example of what it means to be in a marriage with God at the center but then there are her parents. And her sister. With her grandfather’s recent death, Emma leaves behind her life in Seattle to help her grandmother around the house and slowly begins to open her heart to Lane Forrester. But things get complicated when she learns her sister has a claim on Lane.

Reading this novel (which is very short on average though probably is longer than the “technical” novella), makes its reader feel nostalgic. It put me in mind of days past, folding colorful cardstock and cutting out hearts  or writing out Disney Valentine’s which is also closely resembling its cover illustration (and it’s gorgeous!) and I suspect, exactly what Melody wanted the book to feel like. Those of us who prefer more time for characters to grow – both as individuals and as a couple if that’s the path of the story, will be disappointed as there is very little depth of characters. The story takes a more lighthearted, easy approach to its subjects which can be nice on the occasion you feel overwhelmed with theology or topics that inspire a reader to think.

I didn’t respect some of the choices in the book though that falls into being a question of personal preference. There are cute classic book references and a scene that debates The Phantom of the Opera then there is the banter between Emma and her family which is cute – especially the scenes with her dad and I giggled over Emma adjusting to her mother rooming with her (note the scene of Emma taking her bubble bath), and in fact could even relate to Emma with certain of her personality quirks. Anyone looking for a cozy read will probably enjoy this novel. It’s not great for those looking for substance, yet for a holiday read, there are plenty of hearts, sappy moments of paper nostalgia and of course a sweet romance albeit one that does end with ambiguity though, any well-read inspirational romance reader knows… the implication speaks volumes. *wink*

Synopsis: Emma Burcelli has suffered over a decade of dating disasters. But she concludes that love is officially dead when her grandfather Poppi suddenly passes, leaving her grandmother Nona devastated. To help out, Emma works in the family bookstore, which Nona insists must be decked out in sweetheart décor as Poppi would have done for Valentine’s Day. Although she feels like a V-Day Scrooge, Emma quickly learns to enjoy the task with the help of a handsome family friend, Lane Forester, who shows her that hanging hearts is much more fun when done to the tune of Dean Martin. As Emma and Lane share time and memories of Poppi, she reconsiders the notion that romance is alive.

Just as Emma’s heart begins to lift, however, she learns her sister has already staked a claim on Lane. Emma’s mother and sister insist Lane only sees her as a future sister-in-law, but she can’t help wondering if it could be something more. – Goodreads

Book - Dating, Dining and DespertationComing Next from Melody Carlson: Daphne Ballinger has learned to accept her deceased, eccentric aunt’s strange request that she marry in order to inherit her estate, along with taking over her aunt’s hometown paper’s advice column.

But knowing and accepting that God’s will be done becomes harder when a new neighbor, a divorced socialite, learns of Daphne’s predicament and takes on the task of finding her the perfect man, even if it includes speed dating. When God does open Daphne’s heart, it is instead to take in a young girl left parentless and in the care of her dying grandmother. It may be a temporary arrangement until the girl’s uncle returns from the Marines, but God uses Daphne to speak His heavenly love and protection into the life of the child — whom Daphne soon discovers has a very handsome and single uncle. – Goodreads, March 2014


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