Sunday, November 10, 2013

ARC Mini-Review: Once Upon a Highland Christmas

Once Upon A Highland Christmas (Scandalous Scots 0.5)

by Sue-Ellen Welfonder


 Warrior Grim Mackintosh understands why his friend Archibald MacNab has decreed there be no trace of Christmas in his castle. After a devastating attack destroyed everything-and everyone-in Archie's life, he prefers to stew in his own misery until the holiday passes. But Duncreag has seen enough tragedy. Grim decides to throw a grand Yuletide feast, one that the bards will sing about for years to come, one that will remind his laird how beloved he is. He can't do it alone, though. Grim needs an accomplice . . .
There's nothing Breena O'Doherty won't do for Archie, so she's thrilled to help Grim with his plan. Yet she has a Christmas wish all her own-to win Grim's heart-and this might be her only chance to make it come true. As Breena and Grim work together to bring the joy of the season to the cold, gloomy castle and to the heart of the cantankerous chieftain, an undeniable passion ignites between them. But when a shocking secret about Breena's past comes to light, threatening everything she holds dear, will it ruin Christmas in Duncreag forevermore?


Once Upon a Highland Christmas was my first foray into the holiday season this year and it was a wonderful beginning to the holidays.  I have never before encountered this author, but the cover and blurb were just too much for me to resist.  I love a good historical, especially a Scottish romance, and of course who doesn’t love a good holiday story to kick off the festivities.  Though I wasn’t sure what to expect I was pleasantly surprised to find that I really liked this author’s writing, there was a lot of heart, cute little twists and the fun of two people that are already in love but holding it so close to themselves that they haven’t let the other person see the truth.
Breena is determined to bring the holidays back to the Highlands.  She arrived in Scotland through a string of tragic circumstances, but has come to see Castle Duncreag as home and wants to bring it back to the life that once made it shine.  When she stumbles into Grim’s plan to do just that, she never imagines he might have a second more personal goal in mind as well. As Breena and Grim work together to bring the holidays back, they both begin to see the life they could share.  It becomes painfully obvious that they have both been misinformed about their chances of being together, and when the truth is revealed they are able to truly be together.  However just as they are able to find their love and happiness, bringing the holidays back and sharing their love with the entire clan, someone from Breena's past comes back and threatens their chances at a future.  
Grim and Breena are an interesting pair.  They have loved each other from afar for quite some time, but they both thought that the other was unattainable. Grim is a strong and sweet warrior, one that is determined to make his friends and family as happy as they can be.  He makes me think of a big old sweet teddy bear of a guy with a side of strong and sexy that keeps him from being a wimp.  The best part about him is that he sees the truth in others even if they don’t see the greatness in themselves. And he sees greatness in Breena.  Breena has wanted Grim since the beginning, but as a former captive Irish slave girl, she doesn’t think she is good enough for the gorgeous highland knight.  When they finally come together it is a sweet and loving kind of passion, one that is obviously going to be long lasting and allow them to overcome any challenges together.
Not knowing what to expect, I can honestly say that Once Upon a Highland Christmas was a new beginning not only for this series but for a new author for me as well. Grim and Breena's story was sweet and full of heart; it was well written, with a vivid imagery and detailed environment that made you feel like you were right there in medieval Scotland riding through the snow packed mountains from castle to castle, and of course the requisite twist was beautifully done and proved that even the most humble of beginnings can hide a truly royal heart.  Seeing Grim and Breena work together to bring back the spirit of Christmas, or Yule in the case of Grim, and overcoming the challenges they face was an eye-opening experience that reminds you of the power of a couple in love. I will be looking forward to future stories in this series and other books by Ms. Welfonder.  A great holiday read that will remind you of the true meaning of the holidays whether you are Christian or following an older path.
Rating: 4.25 stars

Rose Rating: 

As a small personal aside I loved seeing the author show the meshing of the holidays from the perspective of the old gods, Yule,  and the Christian holiday of Christmas.  Being pagan it was a lovely difference from the typical strictly Christian perspective of the holidays in a romance hovel.  Well Done!

Happy Holidays to all however you celebrate!

*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 


  1. I smiled when I saw your review on Goodreads. I love Sue-Ellen's work! Your small personal aside at the bottom hits the nail on the head with viewing things in the old ways. That's a huge core belief with her and the old ways resonate within her writing.

    Have you read her before? You can't go wrong with any book she's written. She also writes as Allie MacKay. :)

    1. I have never actually read her stories before. i came across this one on netgalley and the cover and blurb were just to irresistible to pass up. thanks for the tip about her pseudonym, i'll keep an eye out. Glad you liked the review. :)