Monday, October 27, 2014

When I Fall in Love by Susan May Warren

When I Fall in Love by Susan May Warren

Among Christian writers, Susan May Warren is a mentor for thousands, teaching them craft, championing them. For those she mentors, her novels are a study of what to do. (No pressure on Susie. ;) And as a long-time fan having read most of her novels, I can say this book is one of her best.

The book’s summary:

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.

And now, my review:

This book ministered to me. First, I loved that we watched a few couples progress through the story, wondering how their stories would turn out.

Grace is used to a small-town life. She’s insecure and doesn’t like to travel. But a slew of blessings wait for this would-be heroine, outside her comfort zone. Many readers will relate with her fears, her calling outside that “safe place,” and her quest. She may just find she’s had the courage all along.

And Max. He’s decided to limit God, unintentionally. But the secrets he’s hiding have made him cautious. So, in a mirror of sorts, he’s limiting his life’s adventures too, though he’s a buff hockey player who parasails for fun over Waikiki Bay.

Speaking of Honolulu, you’ll love the setting of this novel. Sure, we’ll be in Northern Minnesota some of the time, but we’re also jetting off to Hawaii for a cooking contest. Hope you like seafood, because you’ll see a lot of it. Foodies will love all the cooking in this book.

Readers will find layered characters and plots with deep human emotion. That scene when one of the characters learns the truth and how he reacts, gave me more than one visceral reaction at once.

The element of family was strong here, as with the other Christiansen Family novels. Acceptance. Accountability. Wisdom. Love. For more on how the book ministered to me, read the author’s letter following the story.

A couple of secondary characters in the Christiansen family play key roles in this novel, and I loved watching their stories unfold. One such character is Casper, and I can’t wait to see what happens to him next in Always on My Mind, releasing 1-1-15.

Susie is such a pro. This was one of my favorite reads this year.

Highly recommended!

Note: I recommend reading this book before reading Evergreen, Susan’s novella set at Christmastime. My schedule didn’t work out that way. (Notice a review of Evergreen here on NBN from a couple of weeks ago.) But reading in that order would make the most sense to readers of this series. And as with all long series, it’s best to read the stories preceding this to know the history, though Susie does give a context for her characters’ actions.

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