book, Book Review

When I Fall in Love by Susan May Warren

Book - When I Fall in LoveAbout the Book:
Author: Susan May Warren
Publisher: Tyndale House
Source: Publisher Provided ARC
Publication Date: 2014
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Series: The Christiansen Family, book 3
Genre: Fiction; Contemporary Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5

If ever there was an author in the Christian fiction market who consistently did everything but disappoint this girl, it’d be Susan May Warren. I started with her Deep Haven novels way back with Happily Ever After, then later some suspense and historical (did you ever notice that she writes every genre and does each on so very well?) before coming full circle and returning to where it all began: Deep Haven, with a host of new characters to fall in love with. This third novel is all about daughter, Grace of the loving Christiansen family, who is a homebody to a fault. She feels comfortable in her surroundings at the family home and working for the small pizzeria in their hometown. Only that’s all about to change when, shortly after her eldest brother’s marriage, she receives a gift of a Hawaiian vacation from her family – one that involves cooking, which just so happens to be Grace’s passion, so long as it’s merely making pizzas at the local pizzeria. Much to her embarrassment, her almost brother-in-law, Jace, asks his fellow hockey teammate to look out for Grace during the trip he also is taking. Between Grace’s fear of being away from home and Max’s deep-seated fears over his own carefully protected secret, the fun they have in Hawaii may not last once they return to the real world.

Who cares about a tepid start (to this series) in Take a Chance on Me (in my lone opinion), when its peak heads towards the closest thing to book perfection there is – for anyone who is interested, Warren has the market cornered. This series is shaping up to be the definition of a long-running set of novels (it’s going to be a full six books along with a novella or two) that is not fizzling out in the least the longer it goes on. As a story, this has outshone the two prior to this thus far despite them also being able to stand up to the best of the best. The best part is it’s showing no signs of becoming bogged up in any “bad” fates or as if it’s losing its ability to turn ordinary into something so much more.

I absolutely adored Grace. Her personality and character sparkled in everything she did – she may be the “quiet, shy” kid of the group, yet her character is one of the most memorable, add in a hunky honkey star, Max Sharpe and you’ve got a recipe of pure brilliance – one that might not be something either Max or Grace planned on creating. Without giving too much away, let me just say that the plot of this book is… risky in all the ways it should be. It takes happily ever after with a twist to it without ever being sappy (not that I’d have minded) or coming across as unrealistic, because I completely believed in everything Grace and Max said to each other; in their demonstrations of love. For once, a book has a very natural cadence that doesn’t upset the balance of the good and the bad; embedded in the story are the most beautiful lessons on how to live and in this is something we all could learn from even if we’re not in the same situation or face similar choices. In past, the one thing that I’ve been put off by regarding this series is the multiple character arcs – i.e., the additional characters that have equal time as the two main characters. It was something I wasn’t drawn to in book one, liked better in the follow up (because it was limited to one person) and finally felt like this element of prose found its niche in this novel in which we get the perspective of brother Owen Christiansen (well done, Susan. Well done). This subplot leaves us hungering for more especially considering it is Owen’s story that’s rumored to be coming up next. Plus, he’s just an all-around cool dude.

If you like contemporary (of any variety) or have been reading these, do not miss this third novel. Between its setting (may I just give a shout of joy for a new locale?? It was striking in its descriptions and nice to move out of the familiar for a while – a great boaster for sure), plot and characters, this book is sensational – and that’s the honest-to-goodness truth. I was already longing for the fourth novel prior to completing this one because it has a kind of tranquil quality to it that nothing can damper; When I Fall in Love is a must-read for your summer reading list. Trust me. You’ll fall hard for this one.

Synopsis: Hawaii was the last place Grace Christiansen ever imagined she’d vacation, much less fall in love. But when her family surprises her with a cooking retreat in paradise, she is pulled—or maybe yanked—away from her predictable, safe life and thrown headfirst into the adventure of a lifetime.

Max Sharpe may make his living on the ice as a pro hockey player, but he feels most at home in the kitchen. Which is why he lives for the three-week culinary vacation he takes each year in Hawaii. Upon being paired with Grace for a cooking competition, Max finds himself drawn to her passion, confidence, and perseverance. But just when Grace dares to dream of a future beyond her hometown, Max pulls away.
Wrestling with personal demons, Max fights against opening his heart to a love he knows he should never hope for. And as his secrets unfold, Grace is torn between the safe path in front of her and what her heart truly desires. If love means sacrificing her ideal happily ever after, Grace’s faith will face its toughest test yet. – Goodreads

Coming Next from Susan May Warren, Evergreen: An empty nest has Ingrid Christiansen dreading the upcoming holidays, but her husband, John, couldn’t be more excited about this new season of life. He even has a surprise trip abroad planned. He’s sure she’ll love it. What’s more romantic than Christmas in Paris? Before he can stop her, however, Ingrid agrees to spearhead a major church project. Then their faithful dog, Butterscotch, needs emergency surgery, draining their savings. And then–because disasters strike in threes–an unexpected guest arrives, dredging up old hurts. As a beautiful blanket of snow transforms the north woods into a winter wonderland, a deep chill settles over John and Ingrid’s marriage. With the holidays fast approaching, their only hope of keeping their love evergreen depends on turning the page on the past and embracing a new chapter of their future. – EVERGREEN coming September 2014

Sincere thanks to the publisher for providing a complimentary ARC copy of this book for reviewing purposes.

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