My Review: I am a big fan of Susan May Warren, so I knew exactly what to expect before reading It Had to Be You. I got everything I expected. Nothing more or less. It Had to Be You is the second book in the Christiansen Family series. I didn’t read the first and I still completely understood It Had to Be You. Eden Christiansen and Jace Jacobson were superbly developed and fun to get to know. It Had to Be You is not my favorite book by this author, but it was a good read. Susan May Warren’s love of sports definitely comes out in this novel. Jace Jacobson is a star hockey player, so she obviously had to do a lot of research. I found it interesting to learn about hockey. Certainly, probably most of the terms went right over my head, but I enjoyed getting to know how hockey is set up and played.
I didn’t really connect with Eden. I think it was because she was always complaining about her lot in life or worried about something. But she was dedicated and sweet. I liked Jace. He wasn’t a character who wowed me overly much. But he was developed well and easy to get to know. My favorite part of the entire book was when Eden and Jace went to visit the Christiansen family. It was so much fun to see how the family interacted.
One thing about It Had to Be You was that it was extremely predictable. I think it was even more so for me because I know exactly how Susan May Warren writes. She kind of does the same thing in every book, though the message may be different for each of her novels. Part One: Guy and girl meet and fall in love. Part two: Something happens to draw them together. Part three: Something happens to draw them apart.Part Four: They get back together again and everything ends happily.I will admit, that is a great story line. But with almost every single book of hers that I have read, she never deviates from it.
I don’t know if everybody who reads this book will catch this. It may just be me. But at times I could almost feel that there was a missing scene. A scene that may have been deleted to shorten the page count. I don’t know if I’m right or not. But sometimes, like I said, I felt some part of the whole was missing. Because of that, It Had to Be You felt disconnected in some places. And I have never felt that way before when reading one of Susan May Warren’s books.
All in all, I really enjoyed it. The romance between Eden and Jace was believable and sweet. Sometimes a little heartbreaking. But then, Susan May Warren is good at making heartbreaking situations before resolving them. Not her best book. But it is definitely enjoyable and worth reading.
I give It Had to Be You 31/2 stars out of 5.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale Publishers. The opinions and ideas stated are mine and mine alone. My review is an honest opinion of this book.
Author Q & A
1. This is the second installment in a new six-book series. Can you give us a bit of
background on this series?
The Christiansen Family series is a spin-off of the bestselling Deep Haven
collection, stories about the townspeople of Deep Haven, Minnesota, a
tiny resort town on the north shore of Lake Superior. The original series
started with a book titled Happily Ever After and grew to include six titles.
However, one family began to stand out, and we decided their story
needed to be told. We wanted a series about a family with adult children
learning what it meant to carry on the legacy of faith into their lives. And I
wanted to write a series that would really let readers dig into the family,
feel like they were a part of their journey.
2. This Christiansen Family series is set in Deep Haven, Minnesota. Tell us about this
It’s a gorgeous place to set a story—on the rocky shores of Lake Superior,
in a tiny town where everyone knows your name. It’s a town with a rich
heritage, strong ties, and a place where people want to escape—in
fiction and in real life (as it is modeled after my town of Grand Marais,
Minnesota). You’ll find people from all walks of life here—and most
importantly, Evergreen Resort, run by the Christiansen family for four
3. What is your hope for this series?
Of course, I hope people fall as much in love with the Christiansens as I
have. They’re a great bunch—all led by John and Ingrid Christiansen, who
have tried to instill their values into their children. But each child has their
own path to walk, and part of the series is just watching as they walk that
path—through the good and the bad, trying to figure out where their faith
and their parents’ legacy fit into their lives. It’s a contemporary epic family series set in the wilds of northern Minnesota with romance, suspense, and
lots of great family drama!
4. What was your inspiration for this particular book and the main character
Eden Christiansen came from a number of places. Watching the siblings of
movie stars and athletes, watching my own daughter cheer her athlete
brothers, even watching my friends, parents who feel on the sidelines of
their children’s lives . . . maybe even a little left behind as they leave for
college. I began to wonder—what if you had an amazing sibling, and your
entire family focused on his or her successes, and you felt left behind, void
of your own amazingness? This is Eden—who feels like she hasn’t
accomplished anything and is sitting on the sidelines of her life. She feels
like she needs to “get into the game” but doesn’t know how or where to
start. And she feels like she really has nothing spectacular to offer . . .
But God has different plans . . .
5. Did you base the character of Jace Jacobsen on anyone in particular?
Jace was loosely modeled after famed Minnesota Wild enforcer Derek
Boogaard, who died, in part, due to the many concussions he suffered as a
hockey player. The problem of concussions with today’s athletes, especially
in hockey and football, can be life-threatening for athletes, and although
hockey (and football!) is played much differently today, it’s still an issue.
I wanted Jace to have the opposite problem from Eden—he is only good
at one thing. In fact, he’s spectacular at it, but he believes if he walks away
from it, he will be nothing. So same problem . . . different perspective. It
gave me a good opportunity as an author to examine our “worth.”
Of course, adding the John Doe element only rounded that theme out with
yet another perspective. I loved how these three angles came together.
6. What lessons or truths will your readers find in the pages of this novel?
I think we all need to see our worth not in relationship to our external
successes but in how we work out the task God has for us. How we love
one another, how we use our gifts and talents. How we abide with God in
our daily lives. Hopefully readers will begin seeing their worth in a new way.
7. How do you expect this new series to resonate with your audience? How do
you want your books to make them feel?
I am hoping readers walk away from this book, and this series, with hope.
The sense that they belong to something—to God, to family—and the
feeling that our lives are not chaotic or out of control, but that God has a unique and amazing journey for each of us, and it’s lived out within our
relationships. I want them to feel as if they’d found a new set of friends.
8. Have you received any feedback from your fans on this series? What are they
People fell immediately in love with Darek and his sweet son, Tiger, in Take
a Chance on Me, and I think readers will really enjoy Jace and Eden’s
romance in this story. I’m thankful that people enjoy the work I put into
developing my characters and the romance, and I have loved diving into
these multilayered stories about people with realistic, everyday struggles.
9. As a writer, what did you particularly enjoy about crafting this story?
I loved writing about Minnesota in the winter. And I loved the story of John
Doe and uncovering who he might be. (I plotted it like a mystery, so it was
fun to revisit my mystery-plotting techniques). I especially loved the layers of
Jace, the hero, and how, with every turn, he became more intriguing.
10. What is the best advice or encouragement that you have received?
Try to up your writing game with each book, and just keep writing. Not
every story appeals to every reader, but I try to write a story I would
enjoy—and then hopefully my readers will also.
11. In your writing career, what are you most proud of?
I think I’ve stayed true to who I am and the kind of story I’m
supposed to be writing. I’m very blessed by my reader friends and
their constant encouragement. I am very blessed to spend my days
with the Christiansen family!
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