Monday, February 10, 2014

Once Upon a A Winter's Heart by Melody Carlson - REVIEWED

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
     About the Book:
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.

My Thoughts:
“…You were a Valentine’s Day Scrooge too?” She felt unexpectedly hopeful.  (p. 57)

Emma Burcelli comes home in the wake of her grandfather’s (Poppi) death.  She comes home a bit more permanently than her family expects as she quits her very dissatisfying job to come home and take care of her grandmother. (Nona)  What she finds upon her arrival is something she is unprepared for.  Her sister Anne’s family is falling apart, her parents aren’t faring much better, and Emma herself has become a self-proclaimed Valentine’s Day Scrooge.  How did this happen?  Poppi and Nona were huge proponents of romance, and they celebrated all that was good about relationships when they went all out for Valentine’s Day.

This year has brought many changes – one of which is the presence of Lane Forester.  Lane’s relationship to the family is one that is much more complicated than Emma can conceive.  As the story unfolds, deceit, misunderstanding, family loyalty and the romance of which Poppi was so fond of reveal themselves to the reader in unexpected ways.  The ending arrives long before resolution is found for the characters, but the reality of the multi-layered relationships is profound and something all readers will relate to.

For a novella, Melody Carlson has packed this almost to the overflow point!  This book was rich and satisfying and left me hungry for more.  It is my hope that we will see more of this set of characters in future works of fiction.  Readers will find nuggets of truth and a true reflection of relationship struggles we all face throughout our lifetimes.  A most excellent tribute to Valentine’s Day!

About the Author:

Over the years, Melody Carlson has worn many hats, from pre-school teacher to youth counselor to political activist to senior editor. But most of all, she loves to write! Currently she freelances from her home. In the past eight years, she has published over ninety books for children, teens, and adults--with sales totaling more than two million and many titles appearing on the ECPA Bestsellers List. Several of her books have been finalists for, and winners of, various writing awards.

She has two grown sons and lives in Central Oregon with her husband and chocolate lab retriever. They enjoy skiing, hiking, gardening, camping and biking in the beautiful Cascade Mountains.

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