Review: The Secret of Snow by Viola Shipman

Title: The Secret of Snow by Viola Shipman
Publisher: Graydon House
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 372 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


The forecast is calling for a reluctant homecoming and regrettable decisions with a strong chance of romance

When Sonny Dunes, a SoCal meteorologist whose job is all sunshine and seventy-two-degree days, is replaced by a virtual meteorologist that will never age, gain weight or renegotiate its contract, the only station willing to give the fifty-year-old another shot is the very place Sonny’s been avoiding since the day she left for college—her northern Michigan hometown.

Sonny grudgingly returns to the long, cold, snowy winters of her childhood…with the added humiliation of moving back in with her mother. Not quite an outsider but no longer a local, Sonny finds her past blindsiding her everywhere: from the high school friends she ghosted, to the former journalism classmate and mortal frenemy who’s now her boss, to, most keenly, the death years ago of her younger sister, who loved the snow.

To distract herself from the memories she’s spent her life trying to outrun, Sonny throws herself headfirst into covering every small-town winter event to woo a new audience, made more bearable by a handsome widower with optimism to spare. But with someone trying to undermine her efforts to rebuild her career, Sonny must make peace with who she used to be and allow her heart to thaw if she’s ever going to find a place she can truly call home.


The Secret of Snow by Viola Shipman is a heartwarming novel of family, healing and love.

Fifty-year-old Sonny Dunes is a beloved meteorologist in Palm Springs, but her high ratings do not stop her twenty-something boss from firing her. Sonny does not take the loss of her job gracefully and instead becomes a viral sensation for all the wrong reasons. In the aftermath, the only person who will hire her is her old college classmate Lisa Kirk. The only catch? The job is in Traverse City, MI, the hometown she fled after graduating high school. With much reluctance, Sonny accepts the job offer and moves back into her childhood home with her feisty mother Patty Rose.

Lisa is counting on Sonny to revive the stations sagging ratings. Much to Sonny’s dismay, she is expected to do much more than weather segments. She works with twenty-five-year-old Ron “Icicle” Lanier and neighboring town chamber of commerce president Mason Carrier. Sonny lacks enthusiasm for many of the winter activities she must participate in to highlight the various outdoor events that make Michigan such a wonderful place to live.  Sonny has good reason for wanting to avoid winter weather  and she he has spent a good part of her life putting an emotional distance between her memories of the past. But will she finally face the heartache she has tried so hard to put behind her?

Mason is a wonderful man who also has a painful history. But instead of walling himself off emotionally as Sonny has, he is very open about his loss. Mason is not put off by Sonny’s efforts to avoid dealing with her pain. He is very supportive and he slowly works through her formidable defenses. But will an unexpected opportunity ruin his chance of a future with Sonny?

Sonny uses both physical and emotional distance to protect herself from loss and heartbreak. But when she returns to Traverse City and is confronted with daily reminders of her past, will she come to terms with the past that continues to haunt her? Can Sonny open her heart to the possibility of love as she grows closer to Mason? Is there any chance she can smooth over her stilted relationship with Lisa and discover the beauty of true friendship?

The Secret of Snow is a perfect blend of humor and heartache. With a notable exception, the characters are marvelously developed and easy to root for. Sonny is the very definition of “hot mess” as she melts down and then gamely attempts to salvage her reputation. The storyline is engaging and deals with sensitive topics in a realistic manner. Traverse City and the brutal yet beautiful winter spring vividly to life.  Viola Shipman’s winter novel is an emotional story that will touch readers’ hearts and linger in their minds long after the last page is turned.

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Filed under Contemporary, Graydon House, Rated B+, Review, The Secret of Snow, Viola Shipman, Women's Fiction

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