Susan May Warren has done it again. The short version of this review: Go get Take a Chance on Me. It's my favorite to date.
Apparently, though, to be considered a real review, I need to tell you more than that.
Fine. I'll do that.
This book is the first in a new series, featuring the Christiansen Family. The Christiansen's own Evergreen Resort, just north of Deep Haven, Minnesota. This novel focuses on Darek Christiansen, the eldest of the Christiansen six kids. The youngest, Amelia, just graduated from high school. . the first chapter of the next book in the series, it looks like there will be one for each of these adult "kids."
As an aside, my favorite part of this book was that first chapter in the next book. Eden Christiansen, a former Minnesota Daily employee, is on a date at Sturbs (aka Stub and Herbs), and wow, oh, wow, did I end up homesick. I simply have to read Walk On By as soon as it comes out.
Back to THIS book, though. Here is what the publisher had to say about it:
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.So, I'll confess, that description didn't make me jump up and down with excitement, except for the fact that it takes place in Deep Haven. As I have written in every review I've done of a Deep Haven book, Susan May Warren writes Minnesotan incredibly well. But while some of the details resonate more with me than they would with someone who's never been in the state, the story is compelling regardless of familiarity with the location.
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.
The book is simply fantastic. You've got so much going on -- the love stories with the late 20s to 30s crowd, the parents and grandparents watching their young adult offspring, all the sibling interaction among the Christiansen kids, and the various friendships. With my oldest being only a bit younger than the "baby" of the Christiansen clan, the Mom-adult child relationships in this story really grabbed me. Apparently, they were supposed to.
Question: What was your inspiration for this particular book and the main character Darek Christiansen?
Susan May Warren: As I started to put together this series, I began to think about our culture and our children today. I started to take a look at the big questions we are faced with as parents – and as young people; the issues that affect us as a culture, as well as personally. I wanted these books to go beyond family drama, beyond a great romance to raise bigger questions and stir truths that we might pass along to others. This story is about our propensity in our culture to blame others for what goes wrong in our lives – and how this alienates us from each other, and ultimately, God. Darek is the oldest brother in the family; the leader and a real hero. He’s a wildland firefighter and a widower who’s had to give up his job to come home and run the resort and care for his young son. Darek doesn’t realize he has a problem – he lives with anger on his shoulder, hating the man who killed his wife (his best friend). His real problem is that he can’t forgive himself. In this first story, readers meet the family, hang out at the resort and discover that God can redeem even a heart of stone, if we take a chance on Him.You can read the rest of the interview for yourself. Great stuff.
Do you want a peek? You can read the first chapter for yourself.
My bottom line: Go get Take a Chance on Me. It's my favorite to date. Or did I say that already?
Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Tyndale House Publishers. No other compensation was received. The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.