Once in a Lifetime by Mary Monroe

Once in a Lifetime by Mary Monroe
Publisher: Dafina
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction, Holiday
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Ginger

Free-spirited, living on the fly, Vanessa Hayes is still always down for traditional family holiday fun—until now. She’s making her oft-delayed wish finally come true: Christmas in Paris, the glittering City of Lights. But when her passport gets delayed, it’s too late for Vanessa to rebook. Now it looks like the Yuletide she longs for won’t happen. Until a stranger suddenly enters her life, and changes it forever . . .

Overwhelmed by responsibility, Judith Guthrie is too busy worrying about her seriously ill brother to have time to celebrate. She’s taken a leave from her teaching job to care for him as he’s on the waiting list for a life-giving transplant. A trip to France is a kind of happiness she can’t imagine. But when she accidentally receives Vanessa’s passport, Judith can’t resist delivering it in person so Vanessa will at least have her holiday dream. She can’t anticipate that her small gesture will result in a series of big choices, big miracles, and lifelong rewards that all will be thankful for over many Christmases to come . . .

Is it fate?

The story is told from Vanessa Hayes’s point of view. The story seemed more of a high level overview than an in-depth get to know the characters that I am use to when reading the author’s writing style. This was an okay read. I finished it but didn’t quite get the normal excitement that I usually get when I read a Mary Monroe novel.

I enjoyed seeing Vanessa, a single 32-year-old woman enjoying her life and taking care of herself and helping her family. Her long time dream of going to Paris is halted when her passport didn’t arrive in time for her scheduled trip during Christmas. Because of the mishap with the postal service, it turns out she’ll receive another once in a lifetime opportunity. Unfortunately after Vanessa’s trip has been cancelled Judith Ann Guthrie knocks on Vanessa’s door to deliver the delayed passport. Here’s where things got strange for me, but who am I to say it could very well be divine intervention. Vanessa Googles Judith and gives her a call. The phone rung six times before Judith answered. For some reason Vanessa is eager to meet with Judith again. Judith invites a stranger to come to her home. While there the ladies have a bonding moment as well as Vanessa meeting Ronald, Judith’s brother who is in need of a kidney.

There were minor details that didn’t make this book a great read. I wasn’t able to connect with the characters. As I mentioned Vanessa has a loving personality but her life was just not that interesting to me. The book tells a lot about her with her family and friends and maybe it was the lack of drama that made the story bland.

However, I enjoyed the good hearted unselfishness on Vanessa’s part. She’s a lovely soul and she deserves to have someone just as loving. The story is a little easy to predict. I enjoyed how the author made me wonder and work for the ending. I knew there was going to be a happy ending but it wasn’t as instant as I thought. Here comes fate again. What are the chances of Vanessa and Ronald showing up at the same theater, to watch the same movie at the same time?

It’s not a holiday story but it is heartwarming and a story about family, unexpected friendship and helping others. It’s a nice read.

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