Book Talk Tuesday: The Wonder of You

Finally! I’ve been waiting for Amelia’s story from Susan May Warren’s Christiansen Family series. Now that I’ve finished it, I’m happy and sad.

Happy because it’s a great book. Sad because there’s only one Christiansen sibling’s story left. Although it promises to be a whopper.

THE WONDER OF YOU by Susan May Warren
THE WONDER OF YOU by Susan May Warren

Amelia Christiansen left in a previous book to go to Europe for a year-long photography course. Her parents visited her a few months later and she returned home with them. With a broken heart. At the end of the last book, ALWAYS ON MY MIND, the heart-breaker arrived in Deep Haven with flowers and an apology.

THE WONDER OF YOU opens a few weeks later. Roark was chased off by Amelia’s protective family and she has slipped back into her role at home as the youngest Christiansen and also slipped back into her role as half of Amelia-and-Seth, her high school relationship. She’s determined to forget about Europe and her dreams and ambitions and to settle in Deep Haven.

Except then Roark St. John returns, this time vowing to stay until he convinces her that what they shared in Prague and Paris wasn’t a fling, but the real thing.

THE WONDER OF YOU is a love triangle. I’ve been skeptical of love triangles ever since an agent told me they are hard to sell because some publishers are afraid readers will feel slighted if the heroine doesn’t choose who they think she should. So ever since then, I examine love triangle stories very closely to see what works and what doesn’t. How does the author influence the reader to root for the “winner.”

Warren did a great job. The premise is “will Amelia stay with the man she’s loved since high school or will she leave the safety of home for the man who broke her heart?” I don’t want to give any spoilers, so I’ll say that at first both men seemed evenly matched and I was afraid I wouldn’t know who to root for. But Warren skillfully wove in some details and circumstances that showed who was the right man for Amelia’s heart.

I loved this one! And now I’m stuck, once again waiting for the next book in this series.

—–I received a free copy of THE WONDER OF YOU in exchange for an honest review. ——-

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Book Talk Tuesday: Always on My Mind

I’m already dreading when this series ends. I love the Christiansen family, Deep Haven, and Susan May Warren’s writing.

Always on My Mind
Always on My Mind

ALWAYS ON MY MIND is Casper and Raina’s story. We met them in WHEN I FALL IN LOVE. At the end of that book, when Casper discovered Raina had a one-night stand with his brother, Owen, Casper fled for Roatan in Honduras and a job on an archaeological dig.

He’s come back with a clearer head, ready to forgive Raina and move on. He’s hoping she can forgive him for his reaction and perhaps they can begin again. That would be great except he doesn’t know one thing: Raina’s pregnant.

Raina has decided to give the baby up for adoption. She’s in no condition to care for a child and Owen has made it clear he’s not interested in being anything except a flake, a jerk, and maybe a fire-fighter.

In spite of the shock of finding Raina’s secret, Casper is still drawn to her. He moves back to Deep Haven to help at the family resort. Raina also moves back to town to house sit for her aunt and to make a new start on her life. But her heart won’t let her forget the baby she gave up.

Raina gets a job and begins dating a man Casper dislikes. But a local mystery keeps drawing Raina and Casper together, making Raina’s new boyfriend surly.

ALWAYS ON MY MIND is a story of forgiveness and grace. It’s also about how our pasts have shaped us into the people we are now. It’s about rejecting what we think we deserve and embracing all we’ve been given by God: salvation, redemption, joy.

I loved this one and highly recommend it.

Book Talk Tuesday: Evergreen

It’s no secret I’m a huge Susan May Warren fan. She’s just released a novella, Evergreen, a Christmas story in her Christiansen Family series. Evergreen is about the parents of the Christiansen siblings, John and Ingrid, home in Deep Haven with a newly emptied nest.

Evergreen by Susan May Warren
Evergreen by Susan May Warren

John has planned a surprise trip to Europe for Christmas for Ingrid. He wants to renew their vows on the Eiffel Tower in Paris, a romantic gesture that he’s certain will wake Ingrid from the funk she’s fallen into since her last chick has flown the coop.

But the man can’t catch a break.

Ingrid volunteers to head up the community live Nativity. And their nephew needs a place to live for a few months. And John suddenly learns that what he thought Ingrid could snap out of, is much deeper, something that he has no idea how to fix.

Evergreen is the perfect read for a crisp fall or winter afternoon.

Unfortunately, here in California, temperatures were still in the 90s when I read the book last week. I couldn’t snuggle under a warm throw or curl up with hot chocolate or a cup of coffee.

And it didn’t matter in the least. I loved the book. The snowy atmosphere of Evergreen translated from the page into my mind and I shivered along with the characters. As empty nesters ourselves, our related to some of John and Ingrid’s feelings and situations. Susan nailed it.

If you’re an empty nester, what surprised you that you weren’t expecting  about this stage of life? If you’re not an empty nester, is this a season of life you’re looking forward to or dreading?

 

Book Talk Tuesday: It Had To Be You

Yep, I’m reviewing another Susan May Warren book. Maybe I should make a fill-in template for her books:

it had to be you[Blank] is another winner from Susan May Warren! Deep plot, real characters, stellar writing. I loved [blank] and can’t wait for the next one.

Seriously though, It Had To Be You is a very good book. Entry number two in Warren’s Christianson Family series is Eden Christianson’s story. We met her older brother, Darek, in Take a Chance on Me.

Eden is a writer. She longs to be a reporter, breaking real news stories and covering events. Instead, she’s at the obits desk of the Minneapolis paper where she works. She’s spent her life on the sidelines, watching and cheering for her accomplished siblings. Especially Owen. Now she fills her days at the paper and her evenings are for watching her brother in his ice hockey games or dragging him out of bars to keep him safe.

Jace (J-Hammer) Jacobsen is the team captain and Owen’s inspiration. His reputation as a violent enforcer has preceded him and Eden meets him feeling that she already knows him.

When Owen has an accident on the ice, Eden is surprised to find that Jace is not quite the brute she’d believed him to be.

It Had to Be You is a lovely story of how God takes our failures and mistakes and redeems them.

Jace’s violent past is a part of who he is. Eden believes her gift is cheering on the others in her family. It’s thanks to Jace and a stranger in a coma that she discovers she’s so much more than a cheerleader to others’ accomplishments.

The complexity of the characters and the interwoven plots are just part of what made this such a great book. Warren knows her characters on a cellular level. They never act in a way that rings untrue. The secondary plots are strong on their own and only add to the richness of the main storyline.

Click here for some photos of how Susie sees the characters. I kept seeing Kristen Bell as Eden though, not Grace. And I totally see Tom Selleck as John and Bonnie Hunt as Ingrid.

I loved It Had to Be You and I highly recommend it!

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I’m honored to be part of Susan May Warren’s launch team! I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.