|Take a Chance on Me by Susan May Warren|
Let’s begin with the summary:
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.
And now, my review:
This was one of the best books I’ve read in a while! Susie’s work stands out because of her ability to layer elements upon each other. She’s the queen of characterization and helping readers feel the emotion demanded in the scene.
I enjoyed the fact that this story contained two simultaneous romances. Each character’s brokenness made me sympathize and want to see them free. Jensen and Darek handled their pain differently—one with anger and one with a gentle self-sacrificing—yet, they were each hurting. And I cared about their journey.
In fact, each character’s journey to restoration and freedom, to forgiveness, felt meaningful, relatable, genuine. Susie uses symbolism to echo her messages: gardening, pruning, wildfires. The scene where the two couples work through their issues was so original and delicious! And Darek and Jensen’s friendship moved me.
The theme and phrase of "take a chance on me" echoed in several ways, each meaningful. I'll leave it to the reader to discover what I mean. This was one of my favorite elements.
Susie included themes of family, not running away, and friendship. I’ve already mentioned forgiveness, which was a strong thread throughout. There were wisdom-laced life lessons sprinkled in the prose. The most rewarding read is one that changes lives. I believe readers will find relatability here, plus a few nuggets to carry forward.
Readers will not be disappointed in this story. It’s the best I’ve read so far this year.