First things first, I have a small disclaimer that actually has no real impact on my review, but I feel I should share it. I am a member of My Book Therapy, and spend quite a bit of time learning at the site Learn How To Write A Novel. Susan May Warren is an integral part of My Book Therapy & the new site Learn How To Write A Novel (founder & more), and has shared so much wonderful information on writing that I had to see how her advice played out in the big picture or the big page. Either way, I had read several of her books in the past before I joined My Book Therapy, and when I had a chance to win Take a Chance on Me from Best Reads by Kav, I HAD to leap on it. As you can see now, I won and I am so glad I did! Okay on to the review!
A little bit about the book:
Author – Susan May Warren
Publisher – Tyndale House Publishers Inc
About the Book (from Goodreads): 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.
My Review: First of all I just have to say wow! I had no idea what to expect when I picked up Take a Chance on Me. I read and really enjoyed the review from Kav, but I kind of distanced myself before the book arrived at my door. I didn’t remember exactly what it was about and wanted to keep it that way. I loved watching the scenes unfold.
Ivy has moved into a small town with the goal of finally finding that place to belong. I was touched by this, because of being a person who lived a bit of a gypsy sort of traveling life, I could relate to wanting to belong in one special place. I didn’t grasp Ivy’s background until it unfolded in the story, but as it was revealed, it was definitely a story that sprang empathy in my heart. She was completely vulnerable and yet tried so hard to be strong at moments.
One doesn’t expect a quick little auction date to become so complicated, but Ivy quickly is pulled into Darek’s orbit as she sees the thoughtfulness behind the wall of protection that this man has built up. Of course Darek doesn’t just blossom into this flower of goodness by merely being around Ivy. There are plenty of downs before the ups come into play. One of the most redeeming qualities that Darek has in the beginning is his fierce love for his five-year-old son Tiger. There is a lot of loss in Darek’s life and his own darkness that he has to contend with.
The book doesn’t just sit you in the middle of Ivy and Darek’s story, and that is one of the things I love. More relationships are involved in this story, and I’ll be honest, I immediately was rooting for the secondary though pretty much parallel romance. In fact, there were definitely times that I was more invested in it than Darek and Ivy. That is how good this book is! There is a lot going on, but it all runs seemlessly and each moment touches the other.
Not only is the reader placed into this beautiful small Minnesota Town called Deep Haven, but you really feel invested in the town and in the people. I am a very visual reader, but not every book has invited me in and held me in so easily. I didn’t want to put the book down, but I also didn’t want to finish the story too soon. It was an interesting way to read.
My favorite parts:
-I have a love/hate relationship with romance. I love a good love story, but I don’t have the same opinion on what that means as some of my friends do. I need to see challenge. I have lived long enough on this planet to know that love rarely comes easily. Just as a rose is beautiful it is also thorny and can wound you deeply if you grasp it without care. Romance and love are the same way to me. If a love story just falls into perfect place, I roll my eyes, slip the book back down onto the table and never pick it up again. I don’t care for dreamy green-eyed beauties who of course have no idea how stunning they are even though everyone bumps into walls when they pass by. You know the type that the authors write all their strengths as if they were weaknesses like we have been taught to do in job interviews. I hope what I am saying makes sense here. One of the things that kept me reading is the reality found in this work of fiction.
-There is a Christian message of forgiveness and God’s love that are so richly shared in such an honest and open fashion that you cannot remotely calle it heavy handed or an add in. So often I have read a Christian fiction book where it seems that the message has been shoved into a convenient spot. This story has sprinklings of a message of faith and also rich pools that invite you into the love of the Lord. I wholly appreciated the way the author approached this and I admired the way she handled it.
-The characters in Take a Chance on Me were well done and very realistic. You had your favorites and you had the ones that you also liked. I found myself completely drawn to the secondary characters because I could so fully relate to them. I imagine that there isn’t a person who could not relate to someone in this book. Even the community of Deep Haven is rich and full of people you hope to get to know better.
-The romance was done in a perfect progression. Things moved at a warm pace and a believeable pace. I loved that! So often a romance seems rushed just in order to get to wherever the author wants you to go. This can lead you to things that pull you out of the story because they are so unbelievable. Nothing but the need to get to bed caused me to pull out of the story.
-The plot had just enough tension and moments to really keep the story flowing. Nothing was outlandish or unbelievable. It all flowed well and again there were no moments of saying to myself “there is no way this could happen.” If things were brought up, they counted and made sense.
All in all, I absolutely loved Take a Chance on Me. I felt like I made new friends. I felt invested in these stories and I was very pleased with the ending yet I yearned for more. I enjoyed Take a Chance on Me so much, I immediately put more of Susan May Warren’s books on my wish list. I’ll be honest, I would have spent a pretty penny right now if it weren’t for the fact that I already have a pretty extensive pile of books waiting to be read…one happening to be Nothing But Trouble by Susan May Warren. I just might be pushing that one to the top!
I have never really settled on a rating system but kind of flowed with Amazon. So here it goes. I would rate Take a Chance on Me five stars. Five because not only did I absolutely love it, but I would no doubt recommend it to many friends not only as an entertaining read, but also as a book that really is crafted so well that I think other writers should read it just for the wonderful examples.