Please welcome Sophia Rose to the blog with a review of the holiday women’s fiction novel The Secret of Snow by Viola Shipman part of the HTP Holiday Romance Book Tour.
by Viola Shipman
Genres: Women's Fiction
Purchase*: Amazon | Audible *affiliate
As comforting and familiar as a favorite sweater, Viola Shipman's first holiday novel is a promise of heartfelt family traditions, humorously real experience, and the enduring power of love and friendship.
Sonny Dunes, a SoCal meteorologist who knows only sunshine and seventy-two-degree days, is being replaced by an AI meteorologist, which the youthful station manager reasons "will never age, gain weight or renegotiate its contract." The only station willing to give the fifty-year-old another shot is one in a famously nontropical place—her northern Michigan hometown.
Unearthing her carefully laid California roots, Sonny returns home and reacclimates to the painfully long, dark winters dominated by a Michigan phenomenon known as lake-effect snow. But beyond the complete physical shock to her system, she's also forced to confront her past: her new boss, a former journalism classmate and mortal frenemy; more keenly, the death of a younger sister who loved the snow; and the mother who caused Sonny to leave.
To distract herself from the unwelcome memories, Sonny decides to throw herself headfirst into all things winter to woo viewers and reclaim her success. From sledding and ice fishing to skiing and winter festivals, the merrymaking culminates with the town’s famed Winter Ice Sculpture Contest. Running the events is a widowed father and chamber of commerce director, whose genuine love of Michigan, winter and Sonny just might thaw her heart and restart her life in a way she never could have predicted.
Sophia Rose’s Review
Hitting rock bottom is the easy and sometimes non-voluntary part, it is deciding to climb back up that can be the doozy. Poor Sonny has already lost a kid sister, a loving dad, and now, through no fault of her own, a job she did well. The road back home is not easy, but it is spectacular in Sonny’s individual style. Though this was my first Viola Shipman novel, it most certainly won’t be my last.
Sonny Dunes aka AmberRose Murphy was content with life and felt fabulous at fifty in sunny, hot Palm Springs where she was a local celebrity as their news forecaster, but now she has been replaced by an AI who her boss claims won’t get old or require a raise and she is forced to return to a place that is full of painful, guilt-ridden memories- her home town of Traverse City, Michigan where heat and sun are in short supply, but the attitude against her is numerous.
Sonny is a runner. When the going gets tough, Sonny gets going, but she’s no doormat, so she tends to burn the bridge on her way out of town each time. As one might imagine, this makes it rough on relationships and getting settled. Going back forces Sonny to face what she has ignored for years and it was heart-wrenching to be on the journey with her- facing her memories, her mom, old friends, frenemies, and now starting over with her meteorologist career and TV newswork at the same time.
It wasn’t all or only deep drama, but had some humor and warm fuzzy moments to balance it out. Sonny’s return to small town news was a baptism by snow and ice. Her boss sends her and her fun, quirky camera guy out into some zany situations like the cardboard sled derby, ice fishing, snow-shoeing a trail, and more. Sonny might have grown up in Northern Michigan and the lake effect winters there, but she has for the last few decades been a California desert dweller so it was a hoot to see her trying to be glam when she should have worried about heels on ice or freezing her tushy off in those cutesy snowbunny outfits. Icicle gets it all on camera, much to the amusement of the local viewers. And there was the side story of a love interest with a kind and friendly widower who runs the local Chamber of Commerce and is a big guy for giving back to the community. Mason was a teddy bear.
The romance with Mason was not front and center. This is very much Sonny’s healing and comeback. There are some wonderful moments with her mom, with Icicle and being his friend, making things right with her boss, facing memories of her sister, and figuring out who the evil saboteur trying to sink her at her job is- that was an easy one to work out. Sonny goes from down and out, to making a start, stumbling, and finally triumphing, which is perfect for a wintery holiday book heroine.
But this was also about the non-human character who dominates the story beside Sonny. Northern Michigan- specifically the Grand Traverse Bay area. This was an ode to winter, but also this gorgeous and active locale described with adoration even through Sonny’s early reservations and ignorance.
Running the setting a close second is the fascinating background of Sonny’s work as a weather forecaster and meteorologist. I loved that this was given some clear descriptions, and I had a good idea of what her job was like.
All in all, I was very taken with the story, particularly the inter-woven relationships, descriptions, and cozy engaging writing style. I will definitely be back for more of these heartwarming stories of family, friends, and love. Definitely recommend to women’s fiction and holiday readers.The Secret of Snow by Viola Shipman is perfect for fans of heartwarming stories, family, friends and love. #WomensFiction #HolidayReads #HTPBooks Click To Tweet
Never miss a post by adding Caffeinated to your Inbox