As someone who previously lived in Montreal for about eight years, Belinda Jone’s Winter Wonderland was right up my cobblestoned, fleur-de-lys-waving alley, and I was hooked from the first paragraph. Living in southern California, you definitely start to miss the ice and snow (and toques galore!), and this holiday romance was exactly what I needed to reminisce about my time spent Up North.
While most of the book’s action takes place in Quebec City, I loved the way Belinda captured the mixed feelings most people have about “living in a snowglobe,” from her fantastic descriptions of the ice hotel’s beauty (and arctic sleeping conditions) to the excitement of getting to steer a sled led by a pack of huskies. I can’t imagine participating in a Polar Bear Dip – running nearly naked through the snow only to dive into frigid waters – myself, but I have a few Canadian friends who do this, and yes, it’s just as crazy as Krista describes! The run-ins with “Malhomme” (a mischievous Bonhomme imitator) gave a slightly sinister edge to all this healthy outdoor fun, which I also enjoyed, and was glad when we finally got to know more about the man behind the snowman.
When Krista finally does visit Montreal, it’s a great change of pace from all the outdoor Winter Carnival outdoor activites. We get to move indoors to explore local restaurants and cafés, Cirque du Soleil’s training center and, of course, a little shopping. (Props for her sprinkling of French phrases like “lèche-vitrines” translated to English: “licking the windows” instead of “window shopping” is common in Montreal, as is the city’s love affair with poutine.) I was definitely taken back to my own adventures in Montreal and Quebec City with this book, and loved the mix of fictional romance and factual information about both cities.
My only disappointment was when the book finally came to an end. Luckily Va-Va-Vacation is a real website where I can go for more destination romances from Belinda Jones. I hope to read more about Krista and her soon-to-be-in-NYC gal pal, Laurie, but in the meantime, there are plenty of “fun in the sun” getaways to browse for those who prefer their winters on the warmer side.