Thank you to Caroline Akervik for a copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.
Erik or “Erik the Wall” Engen, formerly one of the most feared and admired goalies in the International Hockey League, now an executive in his family’s holiday ornament company, has returned to his hometown of Noelle, Wisconsin during its annual Nutcracker Festival. It’s his job to evaluate the prospects of the Engen Nutcracker Factory, the company founded by his beloved grandfather.
After travelling the world creating murals, artist Stella Larson has returned to Noelle as well. Erik and Stella soon realize the old feelings between them linger, but she can’t seem to forget or forgive him for breaking her heart a decade before.
With a little hope and some Christmas magic, can Erik make his way back to the woman he always carried with him in his heart?
- I loved that this story was set during a small-town Wisconsin Christmas. Perfect for a December read!
- I loved the Hallmark movie feel. Sweet, romantic, uplifting. Every page was a delight.
- I loved how the author’s vivid details brought the story to life. I felt enveloped by the Christmas season as the characters made their way through town from holiday festivities in school, to a ski lodge I’d love to visit, and finally to the Nutcracker Ball.
- I loved that the characters were well developed. Stella’s career as an art teacher rang true for me. Erik’s past as a hockey goalie impacted the dedication and discipline required for his role as a business executive.
- I loved that Stella didn’t immediately succumb to Erik’s attention despite their history. Her reluctance to dive back in was realistic.
- I loved the concept of a high school romance ending to allow Erick and Stella to see the world and pursue their dreams until they finally met again with those experiences shaping who they became as adults. The flashbacks to their younger days allowed me to get to know them and the events that led to their current goals.
A wonderful holiday romance! Pour a cup of tea, curl up in front of a fire, and enter the Christmas season in the small town of Noelle, Wisconsin. This story has everything readers want this time of year: snow, lights, ice skating, parades, ski lodges, and even a Nutcracker Ball. Stella’s reluctance to take a second chance with Erik years after he ended their high school relationship will ring true for readers. But the time spent apart as they saw the world and pursued their dreams clearly shapes the adults they become. These fully formed characters come alive in this heartwarming story. Each page is a wintery, festive delight.
Caroline I. Akervik
Middle Grade and YA Author of A Horse Named Viking, White Pine, and Halcyon