Monday, May 27, 2013

Tyndale Book Review: Take a Chance on Me

Take a Chance on Me by Susan May Warren

I'm participating in the Tyndale Blog Network where I provide an honest review in exchange for a free book.

(from the back cover)

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 a  charity bachelor auction.  Nor does she know that when she crafted a plea bargain three years ago to keep Jenson 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.

My Thoughts:

I am either drawn to reading a book or turned away from it by it's cover design.  Petty, I know, but it's true. I, personally, thought this book had an awful cover design and I procrastinated reading it because of that.  In fast, I was supposed to post this review in April (a fact which I totally forgot - sorry, Tyndale).  But I can honestly say this is a book that you shouldn't judge by its cover.

I absolutely loved this book!  I couldn't put it down once I got started.  This is the beginning of a 6 book series (see Author Q & A below), presumably with each book about a different child in the Christiansen clan.  It is very reminiscent of several of the Karen Kingsbury series. (I loved them too, so that's a good thing.)

I thought this story about Darek and Ivy was sweet without being sappy.  It's a classic romance mixed with some real life heartaches.  The overarching theme of forgiveness shines through the book as does the theme of moving past your past.  Ivy shows that even though you don't have any control over the circumstances of your past, you do have control over how you handle things in the present.

I highly recommend this book.

I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Here are some additional resources you can read about the book.

Q & A with author Susan May Warren

1. This is the first installment in a brand new six-book series. Can you give us a bit of background on this series?

I love stories about families – watching the members interact and grow together through
challenges and victories – and I conceived this series as I watched my own children begin to grow
up and deal with romance and career and futures. I love Deep Haven, and it’s the perfect setting
for a resort, so I crafted a family, much like the families I know, who run a resort. They want to
pass on their legacy to their children…but their children don’t know if they want it. It’s sort of a
parallel theme to the legacy of faith we instill in our children. As they grow older, they need to
decide whether it is their faith too. It’s a saga about family and faith and what happens when
those collide with real life.

2. This Christiansen Family series is set in Deep Haven, Minnesota. Tell us about this setting.

Deep Haven, Minnesota is based in a small vacation town in northern Minnesota where I spent
my childhood. It’s located on Lake Superior, surrounded by pine and birch and the sense of small
town and home. Populated by everyone from artists to lumberjacks, it’s Mitford, or perhaps
Northern Exposure gone Minnesotan. Quaint, quirky and beautiful, it’s the perfect place to
escape for a vacation.

Excerpt from Chapter 1

Ivy Madison would do just about anything to stay in the secluded, beautiful, innocent town of
Deep Haven.

Even if she had to buy a man.

A bachelor, to be exact, although maybe not the one currently standing on the stage of the
Deep Haven Emergency Services annual charity auction. He looked like a redneck from the
woolly woods of northern Minnesota, with curly dark-blond hair, a skim of whiskers on his face,
and a black T-shirt that read, Hug a logger—you’ll never go back to trees. Sure, he filled out his
shirt and looked the part in a pair of ripped jeans and boots, but he wore just a little too much
“Come and get me, girls,” in his smile.

The auctioneer on stage knew how to work his audience. He regularly called out names from
the crowd to entice them to bid. And apparently the town of Deep Haven loved their firefighters,
EMTs, and cops because the tiny VFW was packed, the waitresses running out orders of bacon
cheeseburgers and hot wings to the bidding crowd.

After the show was over, a local band would take the stage. The auction was part of the
summer solstice festival—the first of many summer celebrations Deep Haven hosted. Frankly it
felt like the village dreamed up events to lure tourists, but Ivy counted it as her welcoming party.

Oh, how she loved this town. And she’d only lived here for roughly a day. Imagine how she’d
love it by the end of the summer, after she’d spent three months learning the names of locals,
investing herself into this lakeside hamlet.

Her days of hitching her measly worldly possessions—four hand-me-down suitcases; a loose
cardboard box of pictures; a garbage bag containing The Elements of Legal Style, How to Argue
and Win Every Time, and To Kill a Mockingbird; and most of all, her green vintage beach bike—
onto the back of her red Nissan Pathfinder were over.

Time to put down roots. Make friends.

Okay, buying a friend didn't exactly qualify, but the fact that her money would go to help the
local emergency services seemed like a good cause. And if Ivy had learned anything growing up
in foster care, it was that a person had to work the system to get what she wanted.

She should be unpacking; she started work in the morning. But how long would it take, really,
to settle into the tiny, furnished efficiency apartment over the garage behind the Footstep of
Heaven Bookstore? And with her new job as assistant county attorney, she expected to have
plenty of free time. So when the twilight hues of evening had lured her into the romance of a
walk along the shoreline of the Deep Haven harbor, she couldn't stop herself.

She couldn't remember the last time she’d taken a lazy walk, stopping at storefronts, reading
the real estate ads pasted to the window of a local office.

Cute, two-bedroom log cabin on Poplar Lake. She could imagine the evergreen smell
nudging her awake every morning, the twitter of cardinals and sparrows as she took her cup of
coffee on the front porch.

Except she loved the bustle of the Deep Haven hamlet. Nestled on the north shore of
Minnesota, two hours from the nearest hint of civilization, the fishing village–turned–tourist
hideaway had enough charm to sweet-talk Ivy out of her Minneapolis duplex and make her
dream big.

Dream of home, really. A place. Friends. Maybe even a dog. And here, in a town where
everyone belonged, she would too.

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