Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Prelude to Christmas: Bonnie Engstrom's story about Candy Canes

Welcome Bonnie Engstrom to the blog today! She's a talented author who's here to talk about her Christmas story, Noelle's Christmas Wedding. Bonnie touches on important real-life topics in this fictional book. I think that you will enjoy learning more about it in the interview below.

But first, here's the blurb for Bonnie's book: Noelle Day finally has the courage to break off her ill-fated engagement with her volatile fiancé and cancel their Christmas wedding. It’s embarrassing, and she has to share the humiliating reason with her friends The Candy Canes. The other five girls were to be her attendants in red taffeta gowns. 

When she faints and falls into the arms of Braydon Lovejoy, the now former wedding florist, Braydon is confused by her abrupt manner. Who is this beautiful woman with the sepia hair and the huge brown eyes? Is she a damsel in distress as he suspects? He prays for an opportunity to find out. Then he backs his delivery van into her precious red car, and he’s sure she would never go out with him, especially since he was hired to deliver a huge bouquet of roses to her from a secret admirer. 

Noelle isn’t sure how to respond when Bruce, the school principal, physically forces himself on her. After all, he is her boss, and she’s just a first year English teacher. She finally accepts a lunch date with Braydon, and he takes her to Sherman Gardens in Corona del Mar where she learns he is the local rose expert. But, Noelle worries their friendship is happening too fast and calls a respite. 

One of the Candy Canes has a tragic accident, and the women bond together. But Braydon, who is not sure why he is involved, becomes their anchor. Will Braydon’s prayers heal the hurts, physically and emotionally? Will the injured Candy Cane forgive the woman who caused her accident, the woman who is related to Bruce the principal? Will Noelle ever have her California Candy Cane Christmas?

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Enjoy my interview with Bonnie
Interview with Bonnie Engstrom about her book, Noelle’s Christmas Wedding:

Alexis: The Candy Canes are Noelle’s tribe of best friends. Why did you give them that name? What’s the meaning of it?

Bonnie: I was involved in a proposed novella collection with three other authors; I was assigned to decide the setting and theme of the stories, something that all the others could pick up on. As a group we decided loosely on candy canes and a Christmas theme. When the other authors in the collection bowed out, I was devastated at first. But, it turned out to be a blessing for me because my story became the first book in a series.

My own children had been involved in competitive swimming for many years, so swimming came to mind naturally. Now that they are all grown with families of their own, I don’t know what to do with so many shoe boxes of winning ribbons and medals.

Here is a description of the Candy Canes: Ten years ago six high school freshmen formed a swim team that became legendary. They won the state relay swim championship four years in a row. In addition to their skill and devotion to daily practicing, they prayed together and vowed to be sisters forever. Another thing that set them apart was they chose their own swimsuits making them a team within a larger team. They chose red and white diagonally striped swim suits. Thus, became known as the Candy Canes.

Alexis: Noelle’s ex-fiancé was physically abusive, that’s a serious real-life issue. Do you hope that Noelle’s story will help women in the real world who are being abused? If so, how?

Bonnie: All my stories, not just the Candy Cane ones, have some real life issues in them that the heroine has to overcome. I don’t write any of those issues blatantly, mostly just hint at them or have them take place off stage, or as a subplot. Although I’m married to a psychologist and have some knowledge via marital osmosis, I am not an expert in any of the situations. But, I do believe they need to be presented, and with plausible conclusions and ways to deal with them.

Alexis: What is the significance of Noelle planning for a Christmas wedding?

Bonnie: Her original wedding was to be at Christmas time. Now, she can really plan and have a unique venue for her wedding (public garden). Every Candy Cane book has a unique wedding venue. (I love weddings!) One is in a historical landmark, one on the beach in a foreign country, one in a preschool. Braydon designs the flowers for all of them! Even his own wedding with Noelle.

Alexis: Tell us about the hero, Braydon Lovejoy. Describe his looks, talents, personality and explain what it is about Noelle that makes him want to protect and love her?

Bonnie: Braydon is handsome, but more than that he is a gentleman and a devout Christian. He notices Noelle’s weakness during their first meeting in chapter one when she faints in his arms. Braydon is the protective type; it’s the way he has been raised. As for his appearance, I prefer to leave that to the imagination of the reader. But, gosh, he is drool-worthy handsome.

Alexis: A career as a professional florist is an interesting option for a man. Why did you choose this livelihood for Braydon?

Bonnie: Noelle had to meet up with someone (hopefully a man) who was involved in the planning of her original wedding so she could cancel the contract. Jill, the real life wedding coordinator who is in every Candy Cane story, arranges for Braydon and Love In Bloom Floral to provide all the flowers.

Braydon’s mother, Lydia, owns the flower shop, so she involves her sons in it. He is very creative, and in the next book his brother Rob takes over while Braydon is on his honeymoon. That book, Cindy’s Perfect Dance, is the next story with more life issues.

Alexis: Noelle has a boss who is hitting on her and she doesn’t like it. Why was this an important part of the story?

Bonnie: Noelle needs to keep overcoming. Not just from Clay, her abusive ex-fiancé, but other situations in her life with forceful men. The boss, Principal Bruce Walker, tries to hit on Melanie in the latest book, Natalie’s Deception, number five in the series. Incidents like this are what make a series ongoing and, hopefully, encourage readers to want to read the entire series to find out what happens next and to the other girls.

Alexis: Why did you choose to make Noelle an English teacher? In what ways does it fit her personality and reaffirm her passion for the youth?

Bonnie: I was an English major, and I spent over 35 years volunteering in education as a five time PTA president and many times as a room mother. Next to my faith, education is the most important passion in my life. I still volunteer in my grandchildren’s classrooms. Also, she reminded me of my high school English teacher who had a major impact on my writing career. It just seemed natural for Noelle.

Alexis: What special message do you have for your readers in this book?

Bonnie: That life’s problems can be overcome. Not just abuse, but sticky situations, uncomfortable situations. And, of course, with prayer and trusting in God for the answers as all the Candy Cane women do when they pray collectively.

Friendship is so important, especially long-term, prayer-linked friendship. I still have friends and prayer partners from over fifty years ago.

Alexis: What was the most fun feature of writing this story?

Bonnie: The most fun was writing about Newport Beach where we lived for over thirty years and raised our children. It tugged at my heart. When I first started Noelle’s Christmas Wedding I remembered every street and every restaurant and every beach. Not only has my memory faded but things have changed. So, I needed to do more research and depend on my research assistant, Kerrie, for updates.

Alexis: Complete this sentence: If I were Noelle, I’d want ______________ because _________________________.

Bonnie: If I were Noelle, I’d want to be part of the Candy Canes when I’m eighty because true friendship never dies.

Author bio:

Bonnie Engstrom and her psychologist husband, Dave, live in Arizona near four of their six grandchildren. The other two live in Costa Rica where they surf. But, they share their Arizona home with Lola and Sam, their two rescued mutts in charge of the household.

She used to bake dozens of Christmas cookies in November and freeze them so she would have a lot to pass out to neighbors. Now... well, that was a long time ago. Instead of cookies for Christmas, she writes. Her Candy Cane stories set in Newport Beach, California, where her family was raised and where they have many fond memories, are perfect for gift giving. Or, for just cuddling up by the fire for an inspiring romance read.

She hopes you enjoy Noelle’s Christmas Wedding and also gift it to a special female in your life. Don’t forget to leave an honest review on Amazon.

Connect with Bonnie: 
Bonnie can be reached via email at Be sure to put BOOK in the subject line so your post doesn’t float around in her junk folder. Her website is, and she can also be found occasionally on Facebook, although she’s not very astute at it. You can sign up for her Life on the Lake quarterly newsletter on either one.


  1. I wouldn't want a Christmas wedding. Although I love Christmas --- I like celebrating it separate from my personal events.

    1. I love Christmas too! :) Christmas weddings are beautiful. But I can understand why you'd like to separate your personal events. Thanks for visiting my blog today! :) Take care and God bless you. *Jeremiah 29:11*

  2. While I love Christmas, I wouldn't want a Christmas one. Christmas is already a special time, and I wouldn't want to share it with my anniversary.


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