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.
This Canadian girl is very familiar with the crisp scent of a rink, the slicing sound of blade against ice, the exhilarating cold wind against cheeks as you whip around the oval. Yes, I am well acquainted with the sensorial experience of being on the ice skirting silly boys with sticks determined to shatter their knee caps (looking at you little brother). But here is my confession: I am not a hockey fan…Wait. I should qualify that: I am not a hockey fan unless I am sitting in the stands of a Montreal Canadiens game. Oh, I can bandwagon with the best of them and show my patriotism during the Olympics, but for all other intents and purposes, nope not a fan. BUT, Susan May Warren was able to reawaken my senses to the joy of being on the ice and, yes, even encourage a newfound respect for the game that too often interrupts family dinners with a siren and cheering boys with full mouths.
That is all part of the appeal of Susie’s writing. She takes the ordinary and makes it extraordinary. Her stories are founded on authentic human experiences in faith, family and love. It Had to be You explores the dynamics of the Christiansen family at a more organic level and doesn’t assume to give readers a perception of the perfect family. They are real and susceptible to internal conflicts, yet come out more loveable and endearing than ever for their struggles. Susie understands that readers can’t identify with perfect and look for characters who have attributes that resonate.
Eden has martyred her personal life for the sake of being her brother Owen’s keeper as he rises through the ranks of NHL stardom. She is habitually relegated to the sidelines and has appointed herself the captain of her family’s cheer section. Her role as supportive wallflower is in stark contrast to her independent spirit and professional ambitions of being a journalist who pens affecting and profound stories.
Jace by contrast is consistently pushed in to the limelight and resentful of the ruffian and womanizer image he has been forced to assume to further his career. Behind his thuggish and indifferent exterior is a tormented heart plagued with regret and loss. When his situation is juxtaposed with Eden’s it is evident they share a desire to be needed and wanted, validated for their unique contributions to the lives of those they hold dear. In spite of their persistent resistance to each other (strife with misunderstanding and prejudice), their commonality binds them first as partners, then friends and ultimately to consuming love. Their intwining journey beautiful illustrates the stories theme (as foreshadowed in the opening letter), “You don’t have to change the world to earn the applause of heaven.”
The secondary storyline of Jace’s best friend Owen and his daughter Maddy is emotionally harrowing. Maddy’s health is deteriorating as she rejects her heart transplant and Owen fears she will succumb to the same disease that claimed his wife. His prayerful supplications and desperation before the Lord find purchase like a sucker punch to the stomach.
It Had to Be You examines issues of identity, purpose and belonging with eloquently integrated faith elements. Although a part of series, it can be read as a stand alone novel. Replete with a beguiling heroine, swoon inducing hero and compelling supporting characters, this is just as much of a must-read as its predecessor.
Oh, and now I want to drive a Zamboni.
One winner will receive:
- $100 Visa cash card
- Take a Chance on Me and It Had to Be You by Susan May Warren
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on March 29th. Winner will be announced April 1st on Susan’s blog. Also, visit her website to learn more about the It Had To Be You backstory and Susan’s free book club kit.
Don’t miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by Susan’s blog on April 1st to see if you won.
**Disclosure: review copy provided by Litfuse Publicity**