By Melody Carlson
Release Date Nov 1, 2013
Publisher Warner/Faith Books
Emma Burcelli has given up on romance. Not just because she's suffered over a decade of dating disasters. Not because her parents' marriage ended on New Year's Eve. No, Emma concludes that love is officially dead when her grandfather Poppi passes away, leaving the last true romantic's other half, Nona Burcelli, devastated.
Emma helps by working in the family's bookstore, which Nona insists must be completely decked out in sweetheart decor as Poppi would have done for Valentine's Day. Although Emma feels like a V-Day Scrooge, she quickly learns to enjoy the task with the aid of a handsome volunteer and friend of Poppi's, Lane Forester. As Emma spends time with Lane, sharing stories about Poppi, ice skating in the street, and hanging hearts to the tune of Dean Martin, she reconsiders the possibility that romance is alive.
But just as Emma's heart begins to lift she learns her sister has already staked a claim on Lane's affections. Emma's mother and sister insist Lane only sees her as a future sister-in-law, but Emma can't help wondering if it could be something more.
Emma's life is in transition and somewhere along the way she has lost all hope in the possibility of happy-ever-afters.
Out of family obligation and after quitting her job she trudges to her grandmother's home to help grandma deal with the loss of the last true romantic man in the world. Emma discovers that her mother is going to be bunking with them as well. Her own parents are calling it quits.
With heavy heart and a belly full of bitter thoughts Emma heads to the family bookstore to pick up the Valentine decorating gauntlet. A friend of her grandfather lives above the bookstore and stops in because the lights are on. Lane stays to help because Valentine's Day was Poppi's favorite holiday. Emma and Lane spend a romantic evening decorating.
Emma wakes with a new spring in her step and a flicker of hope in her heart until she finds out Lane is her sister's love interest.
Lovers of sweet romance should find much to like in this little novel. Emma struggles with feeling like the ugly duckling and carrying around the burden of not believing in love. By the book's end she had bloomed. Plenty of sister and mom drama fills the novel so those who appreciate a little sisterly sparring will appreciate this element. Fans of wine and chocolate and Dean Martin will likely love this sweet little read.
Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer
Melody Carlson packs more story into a book than Reese packs sweet into a Peanut Butter Cup. Once Upon a Winter's Heart will delight yours with this romantic Valentine novella. Novel Rocket and I give it our highest recommendation. It's a must read.
Reviewed by: Ane Mulligan