Once Upon A Winter Wonderland is the latest installment in the Deep Haven series. It chronicles the story of Vivien and Boone’s wedding and all the drama that happened in the days leading up to it.
About Once Upon A Winter Wonderland
Join USA Today best-selling author Susan May Warren, award-winning author, Rachel D. Russell, and talented multi-published Minnesota authors Michelle Sass Aleckson and Andrea Christenson in this delightful twist on Bing Crosby’s holiday favorite song, Winter Wonderland.
A Deep Haven wedding at Christmas? With snow glistening in the lane, sleigh bells ringing, and all the world a winter wonderland—magical, right?
Or maybe not, because the snowstorm of the century has buried their small town, and as Vivien Calhoun and Boone Buckam fight the sleet, snow, and ice, just about everything can—and does—happen to skid their big day into the ditch. It’ll take all their friends—and a few strangers—to turn this Christmas wedding from a blizzard to a beautiful sight in this charming collection of novellas.
Discover four enchanting stories featuring old friends, and new, who discover that there just might be a happy ending waiting in this winter wonderland—if only they can shovel their way out of trouble.
Book 1: A Beautiful Sight by Rachel D. Russell
Vivien Calhoun has planned the perfect wedding—and it had better be perfect, because the prewedding day jitters have hit her like a snowplow. Boone’s recent call-outs with the Deep Haven Crisis Team haven’t helped. She just needs a perfect day—and that starts with the perfect dress.
The perfect, custom-made dress that she designed, herself. The dress that she left with her seamstress…that has now gone AWOL.
It’s a race to find it before their date at the altar…but is the dress just an omen for a wedding day disaster?
My Review of A Beautiful Sight
This novella gives a glimpse into Vivien and Boone’s life as they plan a wedding and their life together. Especially as they have a lot of tension and competing priorities.
Sometimes, especially as brides, we lose sight of what’s important and zoom in instead on accomplishing our idea of perfection.
Meanwhile, the groom is focused on other things that are equally important to the point where the bride wonders if he cares enough about the wedding and their future together.
This is what happened to Boone and Vivien. They lost sight of what was important. Thankfully, they remembered what was important in time to save their happily ever after.
Readers will be reminded that fear can distract us from the good God has in store for us.
Book 2: We’re Happy Tonight by Michelle Sass Aleckson
Detective Duke Lowry hates Christmas, and a wedding at Christmas is simply a double whammy. But he’ll show up as Boone’s best man, and he’ll take charge of Boone’s beloved Mustang, getting it detailed and ready for Vivien’s crazy picture idea. He’ll even put up with Vivien’s quirky, somewhat annoying friend, Zuri.
And then the Mustang goes missing, and Zuri’s the last one to see it. Suddenly, it’s up to Duke and Zuri to save the day. And along the way, Zuri just might change the Grinch into a guy with a heart of gold.
My Review of We’re Happy Tonight
What happens when you put a perpetually happy person with a grump?
Lots of chemistry, that’s what.
I liked Zuri’s character. She had lots of reasons to be unhappy but she chose to find joy and spread it to others. She was the perfect foil for Duke who had become disillusioned with life.
But Duke was not without his strengths. Under his gruff exterior lived a champion. One who could see beyond the other person’s scars to the true self underneath.
I enjoyed seeing Zuri’s sunshine rub off on Duke even as he encouraged her to truly see herself beyond the physical.
Readers will be reminded that God answers prayers and is the finder of lost things.
If you enjoy grumpy sunshine romances, We’re Happy Tonight will be a great addition to your collection.
Book 3: The Snow is Glistening by Susan May Warren
“Keep the guests happy and don’t burn down anything.” These are Owen Christiansen’s parting words to his cousin, Romeo Young, before leaving him in charge of the Evergreen Resort—and the Wilder wedding venue—while the family vacations in Florida.
But when the blizzard hits, Romeo will have to keep the resort running and the wedding on track. The last thing he needs is a tag-along in the form of a guest. But Owen did say to keep the guests happy…
Stella Brown can’t believe that she’s third-wheeling on her parents’ second honeymoon, but what’s a girl to do when her life is derailed? Helping Romeo add some Christmas cheer to the resort seems the right answer. But when her “help” turns into horror, has she destroyed yet another bright future?
My Review of The Snow is Glistening
Oh, I loved this story. When Romeo is left behind to take care of the Evergreen Resort and Wilder House, he feels abandoned. Meanwhile, Stella is feeling like a third wheel after tagging along with her parents for their second honeymoon.
I liked how these two lonely people set out to help each other and found help for themselves. Romeo was a sweet character, a guy who went out of his way to serve while not fully knowing his worth.
Stella was a little lost. She had made a couple of poor choices and forgot how to believe in herself. Together, they will rediscover their joy and purpose.
Readers will be reminded that nothing is a disaster with God. He restores and is able to use all things for our good.
Book 4: Sleigh Bells Ring by Andrea Christenson
Pastor Bob Brown feels frozen over. And not just from the Minnesota cold. He’s numb from the never-ending problems in his parish. He just needs a break, okay? A getaway with his wife seems the perfect Christmas holiday. And he’s delighted to have his daughter, Stella, along. Maybe he’ll even get some peace and quiet and hear, deep in his soul, his now-silent calling.
With their best friends recently divorced, and Bob acting, well, weird, Marilyn Brown fears the worst. But with this getaway, she intends to put some heat back into her chilly marriage. Thank goodness their daughter seems to have gotten the hint. The only one who remains clueless is Bob.
Maybe their love has turned icy, no longer able to hear the love song from the past. But she’s not going to give up…
Spend your Christmas in Deep Haven, where the sleigh bells ring and love is listening, in Once Upon a Winter Wonderland.
My Review of Sleigh Bells Ring
I enjoyed Bob and Marilyn’s story, especially the way Ms. Christenson wove events that happened in the previous novellas seamlessly through the story.
Bob’s crisis of faith threatened to destroy his marriage and his relationship with God. His wife, Marilyn, feared that his apathy was an indicator that he no longer wanted to be married to her.
Sleigh Bells Ring is a reminder of what can happen when we drift away from God and get caught up in our problems: everything falls apart.
I admired Marilyn’s willingness to fight for her marriage, even when her husband seemed clueless about the fact that everything had gone wrong.
Readers will be reminded that God loves them and despite how it feels to walk through their trials, He has not forsaken them.
My Review of the Once Upon A Winter Wonderland Collection
I enjoyed reading this collection of four Deep Haven novellas. Each novella tells a complete story while each includes threads from the previous one.
By the time I finished reading this book I had a smile on my face and a reminder that as bleak as life may sometimes seem, there’s hope. Our Heavenly Father has not left us alone to go through our trials. He walks with us through them and uses the difficulties in our lives to bind our hearts closer to His.
And Vivien and Boone get married in the end, yeah! It was also good to see glimpses of other characters from previous Deep Haven books to see how their stories had progressed.
If you like stories of hope, miracles, and a reminder of what the birth of Jesus means for us, you’ll enjoy reading this novella collection. I received an advanced reader’s copy from the publisher through Just Read Tours; a positive review was not required.