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My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing
Hawaii was the last place Grace Christiansen ever imagined she’d vacation, much less fall in love. But when her family surprises her with a cooking retreat in paradise, she is pulled—or maybe yanked—away from her predictable, safe life and thrown headfirst into the adventure of a lifetime.
Max Sharpe may make his living on the ice as a pro hockey player, but he feels most at home in the kitchen. Which is why he lives for the three-week culinary vacation he takes each year in Hawaii. Upon being paired with Grace for a cooking competition, Max finds himself drawn to her passion, confidence, and perseverance. But just when Grace dares to dream of a future beyond her hometown, Max pulls away.
Wrestling with personal demons, Max fights against opening his heart to a love he knows he should never hope for. And as his secrets unfold, Grace is torn between the safe path in front of her and what her heart truly desires. If love means sacrificing her ideal happily ever after, Grace’s faith will face its toughest test yet.
I've fallen in love with this series! Since it is about one family I started with the first book, even though they can be read as stand-alone novels. Each book in the series is full of emotion, romance, drama, faith, and redemption. If you plan to read the whole series, I'd recommend reading them in order to fully appreciate the secondary characters, since each older sibling is the main character in a previous book.
Grace is a classic homebody, but she takes it to the extreme by being too afraid to even have dreams outside of her small comfort zone, let alone follow them. I couldn't relate to her fear since I love going on adventures, but the author did an excellent job of portraying her anxiety. I admired that she dug deep and allowed herself to reach out and make a new friend in Max as well as experience the Hawaiian vacation, cooking school, and contest. The chemistry between Grace and Max was great, but the fun banter and compassion showed how right they are for each other despite the personal trials they faced.
The subplot of the book was about Grace's brothers Owen and Casper, and the new girl in town they both "befriend" in different ways. Everything comes to a head during Eden's wedding, and I can't wait for the next book to release to see how their story plays out!
(Thank you to Tyndale House Publishers for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)
About the Christiansen Family series:
Set on the north shore of Minnesota, the series features the Christiansens, a family readers can identify with as they try to figure out how faith meets real life.
In Take a Chance on Me . . . (the 2014 Christy Award winner for Contemporary Series)
Darek Christiansen, heir to the historic Evergreen Lake Resort is angry since the loss of his wife. After a charity auction connects him with assistant county attorney, Ivy Madison, Darek begins to believe there might be love again in his future, but he’ll have to overcome his painful past – and Ivy’s secret connection to his wife’s death.
In It Had to Be You . . .
Eden Christiansen’s job as handler for her NHL rookie brother, Owen, leaves her little time to focus on her own career. If only team enforcer, Jace, would mentor the young man. When Owen’s carelessness leads to an injury, Eden and Jace are thrown together and begin to wonder if they belong on the same team after all.
In When I Fall in Love . . .
Hawaii was the last place Grace Christiansen ever imagined she’d vacation, much less fall in love. But when her family surprises her with a cooking retreat in the Aloha State, she is pulled away from her predictable life and thrown headfirst into the path of hockey player, Max Sharpe, and the romantic adventure of a lifetime.
Coming in February: Always On My Mind
Readers can keep up with Susan May Warren at her website www.susanmaywarren.com and blog www.susanmaywarren.com/scribbles-blog/. She is also active on Facebook (SusanMayWarrenFiction) and Twitter (@susanmaywarren).