book

Take a Chance on Me by Susan May Warren

Cover Candy: Edition FiveAbout the Book:
Author: Susan May Warren
Publisher: Tyndale
Publication Date: 2013
Series: “A Christiansen Family Novel” (book 1)
Genre: Christian Fiction; Contemporary
Rating: 4 ½ out of 5

Review: Tragedy has been chasing Darek Christiansen from the moment he agreed to do the “right thing” by marrying the girl from his small hometown of Deep Haven. Instead of becoming a good husband and father, Darek was too busy travelling the country as one of the Hotshots, an elite firefighting team, leaving behind what should have been his greatest treasures. Now after a brief, tumultuous marriage, Darek’s wife Felicity died five years ago in a tragic accident and now the lovely Ivy Madison breezes into town. As the eldest in a large family, Darek’s past has become a subject no one dares to discuss. Following an awkward first impression, Darek slowly begins to open up to the assistant county attorney little realizing that the woman he is falling for and his own pasts are more intertwined than either understand.

Way back when Susan’s “original” Deep Haven books were fresh off-the-press, I discovered that she had a pen and prose that quickly rose in my rankings as a favorite author. Her happy-go-lucky plots mixed in with some emotional turmoil that, while sometimes tugs at the heartstrings was never overly melodramatic or cause for depressed reading. Now, she invites us again to the charms of the small Minnesota town with the opportunity to catch up with old friends (including Liza! Will this girl ever get her own story!?) and meet new character’s to fall in love with. And we do. Warren has writing style very easy to read (unusually relatable) and enjoyable; each story seems to be more dear than the last and in particular I found myself quite fond of this novel. The title plays into more than one relationship – spiritual and family entanglements, helping to guide the reader towards feeling a part of the lives of these protagonists. It’s about more than just pursuing a romantic match, being also about coming to God in moments of despair, heartache and ultimately the realization that He never forsakes anyone.

Taking a chance with her readers, Susan wrote all four of the main character’s without any sort of solid faith. Darek grew up in a Christian home yet abandoned his faith in adulthood as a result of hatred and anger; Ivy wasn’t taught any different and wasn’t ever loved by anyone enough to care about her well-being let alone the welfare of her spiritual needs then Claire harbors bitterness and Jensen feels a leper who is shunned for something he isn’t guilty of. If I were to find fault with this novel, it’d be the four story-line threads going on through the book. Reading the synopsis leads us to believe that we are going to be reading only Ivy and Darek’s journeys with, of course, supporting characters that “define” their label in its most purest sense and yet, how everything plays out seems too formulaic in the consistency of switching off from Darek to Ivy and then Claire to Jenson.

Spilling over into the ending are nearly mirror exact declarations between two couples – four people whose pasts needed to be confronted and dealt with in a healthy, emotional manner but what was meant to be a deeply affecting moment seemed to slack as a result as was the timeframe in which the entire book takes place, only three weeks or a month max. Admittedly this review makes it sound as if perhaps, this novel has a few too many flaws – please, do not misunderstand, it does not. Like any work of fiction from Susan, it has personable characters that are hard to forget, it was only the manner they were sometimes presented in and how easily Darek and Ivy (the protagonist’s the novel leads us to believe it will be about) are “forgotten” that seemed to get lost in the cracks during the 370-some pages that can agitate. Take a Chance on Me is, in reality a wonderful story that takes forgiveness and value of family to craft a unique, satisfying read.

What’s Next:

Synopsis: Darek Christiansen is almost a dream bachelor—oldest son in the large Christiansen clan, heir to their historic Evergreen Lake Resort, and doting father. But he’s also wounded and angry since the tragic death of his wife, Felicity. No woman in Deep Haven dares come near.

New assistant county attorney Ivy Madison simply doesn’t know any better when she bids on Darek at the charity auction. Nor does she know that when she crafted a plea bargain three years ago to keep Jensen Atwood out of jail and in Deep Haven fulfilling community service, she was releasing the man responsible for Felicity’s death. All Ivy knows is that the Christiansens feel like the family she’s always longed for. And once she gets past Darek’s tough exterior, she finds a man she could spend the rest of her life with. Which scares her almost as much as Darek learning of her involvement in his wife’s case.

Caught between new love and old grudges, Darek must decide if he can set aside the past for a future with Ivy—a future more and more at risk as an approaching wildfire threatens to wipe out the Christiansen resort and Deep Haven itself. – from the publisher  

With thanks to Tyndale for providing a complimentary copy of this book for reviewing purposes

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