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Friday, January 31, 2014

It Had To Be You

Susan May Warren is the bestselling, Christy and RITA Award-winning author of more than forty novels whose compelling plots and unforgettable characters have won acclaim with readers and reviewers alike.  She spent eight years as a missionary in Russia with her husband and four children before returning to Minnesota's north shore to wright full-time.
You can connect with Susan at her website found at as well as on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Book Synopsis:
Eden Christiansen never imagined her role as her younger brother Owen's cheerleader would keep her on the sidelines of her own life.  Sure, it feels good to be needed, but looking after the reckless NHL rookie leaves little time for Eden to focus on her own career.  She dreams of making a name for herself as a reporter but is stuck writing obits - and starting to fear she doesn't have the chops to land a major story.  If only someone would step up to mentor Owen...but she knows better than to expect help from team veteran and bad-boy enforcer Jace Jacobsen.
Jace has built his career on the infamous reputation of his aggressive behavior - on and off the ice.  Now, at a crossroads about his future in hockey, that reputation has him trapped.  And the guilt-trip he's getting from Eden Christiansen isn't making things any easier.  But when Owen's carelessness leads to a career-threatening injury and Eden stumbles onto a story that could be her big break, she and Jace are thrown together...and begin to wonder if they belong on the same team after all.

Listen to Susan (you will love her!) talk about getting caught up in her own story:

You can take a peak at a Q and A with Susan about It Had To Be You by visiting HERE.

My Thoughts:
I read my first Susan May Warren novel some time ago at the prompting of a friend at church.  She kept telling me, "You will LOVE her writing!"  Now being an avid reader, I was thinking, "Yeah.  Okay.  I'll check her out, but I read so many good authors who write Christian fiction already.  I'm not sure she can compare to some that I'm already really loyal to!"
So...I took a trip to Susan's website and took a look around.  Then I came across an opportunity to review Take A Chance On Me for Tyndale not too long after and thought it would be a good chance to read one of her books without wasting my know in case it wasn't really good.  Sorry...just keeping it real!
And I WAS BLOWN AWAY!  And hooked.  And Susan May Warren quickly rose to first place on my list of absolute favorite authors!
Susan's most recent book, It Had To Be You, is the second book in her series of The Christiansen Family which is a spin off of her Deep Haven Series.  Take A Chance On Me was the first book in the series.  As a committed book reviewer who reviews for numerous authors and publishers, I rarely actually spend money on books. I am usually swamped with complimentary copies of books to read and review.  I have to say that I will be purchasing all of the Deep Haven novels written by Susan and will be placing them on my keeper shelf right alongside these first two in The Christiansen Family series.
What you really want to know is why I love...her writing so much.  Susan writes Christian Fiction not christianese or overly preachy or forced sentimental and unrealistic stories.  Her characters are believable and their lives are sometimes messy.  Everything isn't all neat and tidy.
There were many times while reading It Had To Be You that I had chills or tears and many times I had both at the same time.  The tension and unfolding of Jace and Eden's relationship is beautiful.  Warren's characterization is rich and she expertly weaves each character's back story into the fabric of the ongoing plot.  It is a beautiful story of learning to let go and surrender.
But you don't just get Jace and Eden's story.  You get Sam and Maddy's and John Doe's and a bit of Owen's story.  And their stories will change you.  Susan's writing makes me think biblically about life and the role faith and trust in God should play.  Because her characters have real struggles and doubt, the transforming grace of God shines brightly in her novels.
Some shining quotes from the book:
"Yeah.  When live seems to go south, we feel like God doesn't love us.  But I keep going back to something my dad said to Owen.  Maybe we have to start redefining how we understand God's love.  And start hoping.  My dad says that hope is one part confidence in God's love for us and one part our delight in Jesus.  And when we start to hope, it changes us, sets us apart.  Makes me see life more clearly."
"He was one of the best hundred-meter sprinters," Olivia said.  But he never had a chance to be a champion.  Not until he lost everything he dreamed about.  She kissed his forehead the way she might have when he was a young boy.  "And then he became the champion God wanted him to be.  He finally stopped caring about winning - or losing - and learned to surrender."
And if that isn't enough to entice you, included in the book is the novella I Really Do Miss Your Smile which tells the story of John and and dad Christiansen.  From Ingrid's journal entry letter to Eden at the beginning of the book to the very last page, the transforming love and grace of God shines clearly.  You won't be the same after reading.

Be blessed and go order your copy of It Had To Be You today!

*I received a complimentary copy of the book from Tyndale for the purpose of this review.

Happy Reading,