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Book Review: It Had to be You by Susan May Warren

Posted by Julie on March 12, 2014 in Book Review, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

Book Description:

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 dreamed 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 upon 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.


It Had to Be You is Book #2 in the Christiansen series, but I believe it could be a standalone. However, I also believe you’re going to fall in love with the Christiansen family and want to read the series.

This book is about Eden Christiansen, who longs to be a serious reporter but spends most of her time chasing her hotshot hockey playing brother around. He’s reckless on and off the ice and she’s doing everything she can to keep him from harm.

Jace is a NHL player at a crossroads and Eden thinks he needs to be involved in Owen’s life. No one is really happy about any of their roles, but as Owen finds himself in a crisis, she and Jace find themselves together, like it or not.

I enjoyed It Had to be You because Susan May Warren is a master at creating heartfelt Midwest characters. In this particular book she uses hockey as a backdrop, something I haven’t seen before. I found this realistic given the dangers of the sport and really enjoyed reading about it and how the characters interact because of hockey.

I also enjoy stories that take you through consequences without beating you over the head about it. It’s great romance, and I think redemption, too.

I recommend you check out It Had to be You.

To purchase, click here.

I received It had to be You from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Guest Blogger Author Susan May Warren: Take a Chance on Claire

Posted by Julie on June 4, 2013 in Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

Take a Chance on Claire Gibson


Hi. I’m Claire.  You might have already seen me at the Deep Haven pizza joint – Pierre’s Pizza.  I make a mean Spinach Pizza. I also tend the flowers at the Deep Haven Community Gardens.  Yeah, that’s right, exciting stuff.


I’m going places.

Actually, okay, I know that’s not funny. My entire life seems to be on hold since I graduated from high school seven years ago. It’s not that I don’t want to do something amazing or exciting.  It’s just that…well, I don’t know what that might be.

See, since my best friend, Felicity, died, I seem to be stuck in Deep Haven.  I can’t seem to find my groove.  I spend most of my time watching over my grandfather, Gibs, and looking in on Tiger and Darek. And Jensen – yes, I see him hanging around also. My heart just hurts for him, even though I can’t bring myself to talk to him.

I know the accident wasn’t his fault. Exactly. No, he has other reasons to feel guilty.  And it’s for those reasons I can’t forgive him.

Even if I’ve never stopped loving him. But, he never loved me, so I’m not sure why I’m still pining for him.

No.  Not pining.  Just…wishing life could have been different for all of us.  Wishing that once upon a time Jensen had possessed the courage to could take a chance on me. Then, maybe everything would have been different.

Maybe we all would have had a happily ever after.

So, I’m stuck here in the no-man’s land of grief, regret…confusion, and unless something changes, I guess I’ll be in Deep Haven forever, making pizza, playing in the Blue Monkeys and tending the garden.

And really, nothing exciting ever happens in Deep Haven, right?

Read my story in Susan May Warren’s newest novel, Take a Chance on Me.

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Guest Blogger Author Susan May Warren: Take a Chance on Darek Christiansen

Posted by Julie on May 30, 2013 in Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

Take a Chance on Darek Christiansen


Hello, yeah.  Hi.  So, I’m Darek Christiansen, and Susie told me I had to show up and introduce myself.  So here I am.  Listen, it’s no mystery that I don’t want to be here.  I really need to be getting home to Tiger, my five year old son.  But apparently the resort needs a little public relations, so here I am.

I run the Evergreen Resort – a handful of cabins and an outfitting service for campers and canoeists located on a lake in the north shore of Minnesota.  It’s a family operation – my parents inherited it from my grandparents. I never really wanted to take it over, but I had to do something to give my son a stable life after I lost my wife in a terrible car accident.  Unfortunately, the man who killed her lives in our town. Okay, he was actually my best friend, but that seems so long ago, it’s hard to imagine that Jensen and were ever anything but enemies.

Okay, so yes, I struggle with forgiveness. And the guilt that I never really wanted this life – I was going to be a HotShot, a fire manager, fighting wildland fires. But life doesn’t give you what you want – it gives you what you deserve.

Which means I’m not going to end up with the cute new Assistant county prosecutor who just arrived in town. Even if she did buy me in the town fundraiser/bachelor auction. Because what she doesn’t know is that I’m the last man she should hang out with.

But deep inside, I’m hoping she’ll take a chance on me.  Because what I really want (and don’t tell anyone) is to start over. To build a new life.  I am just not sure how to get there.

I hope you’ll go on the journey with me in Susan May Warren’s newest novel about me, and my family, and life on a resort in the north shore of Minnesota.

Take a Chance on Me.  In stores May 1st.


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Book Review: Take a Chance on Me by Susan May Warren

Posted by Julie on April 12, 2013 in Book Review, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

If you know me well at all, you know my top answer for favorite contemporary romance author is Susan May Warren. Yep, even higher of a rating than Karen Kingsbury, and she rates high on my list. When I learned that “Susie May” was introducing a new family to Deep Haven, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the offering.

I struck gold. Her latest, the first in the Christiansen family series, Take a Chance on Me, is a beautiful romance surrounded by forgiveness.

From Amazon:

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.

I mentioned in my Goodreads review that Susan May Warren has a way of making you want to move to Deep Haven. Darek and Ivy receive plenty of time and story, but we also get to know the Christiansen family and other members of Deep Haven. This isn’t easy to pull off, and she does. More than that, the entire book is woven together with the theme of forgiveness–most of all forgiving yourself.
17253180Darek is wounded and for good reason. He made choices full of regret, and he can’t let it go. Ivy melts those ice walls, but learns she played a part in his past. If she confesses, she stands losing the one thing she’s always wanted–family. I loved their story because it could be any of us. We’ve all made mistakes and fall for the lie that we deserve to live in shame. Each chapter, every scene has raw emotion and conflict that draw them together, but keep them apart. That’s a well-crafted romance.
I believe if you take a chance on the Christiansen family, starting with Darek, you’re going to be pleased. In addition to an authentic romance that walks out forgiving yourself, there are well-developed secondary characters that drive home the theme.
I might use Ohio for my real zip code, but my heart is in Deep Haven.
To purchase, click here.
Susan May Warren shares her thoughts on Deep Haven and more about Take a Chance on Me with this video.

I received Take a Chance on Me from the publisher as part of the Susan May Warren kick off team, in exchange for an honest review.

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