Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Take a Chance on Me by Susan May Warren (Review)

In Take a Chance on Me (Christiansen Family Series) the first novel in a new series by Susan May Warren, we find themes of forgiveness and grace, love and redemption, courage, and healing.

Derek Christiansen's best friend, Jensen, betrayed and hurt him. He is responsible for Derek's wife's death. Ivy Madison helped Jensen gain his freedom, before she ever met Derek. So many obstacles to any of them gaining peace and finding love and acceptance.

Susan May Warren has created characters that I really cared about~ not just the main hero and heroine, but even the potential "Villain" is a character that I cared about. I love how she creates personalities that ring true... none of them are too good to be true, and none of them are beyond redemption.... excellent themes!

Author Q and A
Susan May Warren 
Take a Chance on Me
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.

3. What was your inspiration for this particular book and the main character Darek Christiansen?
As I started to put together this series, I began to think about our culture and our children today. I started to take a look at the big questions we are faced with as parents – and as young people; the issues that affect us as a culture, as well as personally. I wanted these books to go beyond family drama, beyond a great romance to raise bigger questions and stir truths that we might pass along to others. This story is about our propensity in our culture to blame others for what goes wrong in our lives – and how this alienates us from each other, and ultimately, God. Darek is the oldest brother in the family; the leader and a real hero. He’s a wildland firefighter and a widower who’s had to give up his job to come home and run the resort and care for his young son. Darek doesn’t realize he has a problem – he lives with anger on his shoulder, hating the man who killed his wife (his best friend). His real problem is that he can’t forgive himself. In this first story, readers meet the family, hang out at the resort and discover that God can redeem even a heart of stone, if we take a chance on Him. 

4. What lessons or truths will your readers find in the pages of this novel?
This book is for the person who feels they just can’t get past the anger they have for someone else to live in joy again. It’s for parents who see their children making bad choices and don’t know where to turn. It’s for people who believe that no one will ever really love them because of who they are, or the things they’ve done. It’s for people who need the courage to take a second chance on love and faith and family. I’m hoping readers walk away with a sense of how much God loves them, and that yes, He can heal the angry and broken-hearted.

5. How do you expect this new series to resonate with your audience? How do you want your books to make them feel?
Great question! I love a story that brings me on an emotional journey from anger to laughter to hope. But most of all, I want readers to be wrapped up in joy, that feeling we get when watch our football team win, or when we’re hands up in a convertible on a hot summer day, or digging our feet into a sandy beach, or hugging our loved one when they return home. Ah. The sense that, just for a moment, all is right in the world and everything tastes and feels delicious. I write romances, and in the end it’s worth the journey to the happily ever after. 

6. As a writer, what did you particularly enjoy about crafting this story?
I loved Darek’s transformation. His relationship with his son is so precious, but when he truly lets go of his anger, he becomes the hero I always knew he could be. I love writing about broken heroes who find healing. 

7. What advice do you have for budding novelists?
Read! Then write the book you’d like to read. ~ But, along the way, learn the craft. In fact, a good writer never stops learning.

8. What is the best advice or encouragement that you have received?
Just keep writing. If you want to be a career novelist, you just have to keep writing. 

9. In your writing career, what are you most proud of?
After over forty novels, I’m always striving to keep the stories fresh and unique; so I guess I’m proud that every book is bathed in prayer, has a message singular to that story, and has unique characters and journeys. Every story is a new adventure for me, and the reader. 

Chapter 1 Excerpt
My dearest Darek,
     Even as I write this letter, I know I’ll tuck it away; the words on it are more of a prayer, meant for the Lord more than you. Or maybe, in the scribbling upon this journal page, the words might somehow find your heart, a cry that extends across the bond of mother and child.
     The firstborn child is always the one who solves the mystery of parenthood. Before I 
had you, I watched other mothers and wondered at the bond between a child and a parent, the strength of it, the power to mold a woman, making her put all hopes and wishes into this tiny bundle of life that she had the responsibility to raise.
    It’s an awe-filled, wonderful, terrifying act to have a child, for you suddenly wear your heart on the outside of your body. You risk a little more each day as he wanders from your arms into the world. You, Darek, were no protector of my heart. You were born with a willfulness, a courage, and a bent toward adventure that would bring me to the edge of my faith and keep me on my knees. The day I first saw you swinging from that too-enticing oak tree into the lake should have told me that I would be tested.
    Your brothers shortened your name to Dare, and you took it to heart. I was never so 
terrified as the day you came home from Montana, fresh from your first year as a hotshot, feeling your own strength. I knew your future would take you far from Evergreen Lake. I feared it would take you far, also, from your legacy of faith.
     Watching your son leave your arms has no comparison to watching him leave God’s. 
You never seemed to question the beliefs your father and I taught you. Perhaps that is 
what unsettled me the most, because without questioning, I wondered how there could be true understanding. I held my breath against the day when it would happen—life would shatter you and leave your faith bereft.
     And then it did.
     It brought you home, in presence if not soul. If it hadn’t been for your son, I might have done the unthinkable—stand in our gravel driveway and bar you from returning, from hiding.
     Because, my courageous, bold oldest son, that is what you are doing. Hiding. Bitter and dark, you have let guilt and regret destroy your foundation, imprison you, and steal your joy. You may believe you are building a future for your son, but without faith, you have nothing to build it on. Evergreen Resort is not just a place. It’s a legacy. A foundation. A belief.
     It’s the best of what I have to give you. That, and my unending prayers that somehow 
God will destroy those walls you’ve constructed around your heart. Darek, you have become a mystery to me again. I don’t know how to help free you. Or to restore all you’ve lost. But I believe that if you give God a chance, He will heal your heart. He will give you a future. He will truly lead you home.

Lovingly,
Your mother

(You can read the rest of Chapter 1 by downloading a pdf here)

Keep in touch with Susan May Warren via her Website, Twitter, and Facebook.


Blessings~
Disclaimer: I received this/these item(s)/service for free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

1 comment:

  1. Anger, forgiveness, grace, healing sounds like a book we all could use at some point. Looks very good.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks so much for letting me know you were here. I appreciate "thoughtful" comments. :)

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