Book blurb: 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.
My Review: I was fully invested in the Christiansen Family after reading the first novel,Take a Chance On Me, and eagerly anticipated the release of It Had To Be You. This is the story of Eden, who says she wants to build her career as a reporter but can’t seem to step away from her self-appointed role as her brother’s unofficial personal assistant. She can’t stand to watch him ruin his professional hockey career when it’s just getting started. At times, I wanted to shake some sense into her. On the other hand, I think many readers can relate to circumstances that keep us locked in the crazy cycle while we long to make a positive change. The juxtaposition of a girl ‘stuck on the sidelines’ with a hot, bad-boy hockey player who wanted to escape the spotlight made for some great reading. I’m always looking for novels that incorporate sports and romance but also have an underlying theme that makes me think or challenges me to re-examine my own attitude. I haven’t encountered too many contemporary romance novels that portray a realistic picture of professional hockey and I think Warren did a fantastic job with this aspect of the novel. Her writing style is such that you are drawn into the story immediately. While Eden’s actions annoyed me, she was very relatable. Her brother sustains a career-threatening injury and his hospital stay leads Eden to a comatose, unnamed patient. Without Owen’s career to obsess over, she tries to find this young man’s family. She’s also hoping this could be just the human interest story that could give her journalism career a leg up. Of course this allows plenty of opportunity for Eden and Jace to spend time together, because who else escorts you to the rough side of town to pursue leads but a big, handsome hockey player? The progression of their relationship through the story was believable and kept me engrossed in the story. Underneath that rough exterior and reputation, Jace is a hero worth rooting for.
For readers who have not had the pleasure of reading Susan May Warren’s work before, please not that this novel is not all hockey games and sweet romance. As she often has done in previous works, Warren expertly weaves in themes of loss, the struggle to overcome devastating life events and ultimately the hope and redemption that comes from bringing our burdens to the Lord and not relying solely on our own efforts. This novel is most appropriate for women, probably age 16 and up, given some of the tougher themes incorporated in the sub-plots.
A big thank you to Litfuse Publicity Group and the publisher, Tyndale house, for providing a complimentary copy of It Had To Be You in exchange for my honest review. I’m grateful for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour and share my enthusiasm for Susan May Warren’s latest release.
About the Author: Susan May Warren is the bestselling, RITA Award-winning author of more than forty novels whose compelling plots and unforgettable characters have won acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. She served with her husband and four children as a missionary in Russia for eight years before she and her family returned home to the States. She now writes full-time as her husband runs a lodge on Lake Superior in northern Minnesota, where many of her books are set. She and her family enjoy hiking, canoeing, and being involved in their local church. Several of her critically acclaimed novels have been ECPA and CBA bestsellers, were chosen as Top Picks by Romantic Times, and have won the RWA’s Inspirational Reader’s Choice contest and the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year award. Five of her books have been Christy Award finalists. In addition to her writing, Susan loves to teach and speak at women’s events about God’s amazing grace in our lives. She also runs a writing community for authors. Visit MyBookTherapy.com to learn more.
In celebration of this release, Susan May Warren is giving away a $100 Visa gift card, a copy of Take a Chance on Me and It Had To Be You, as well as a free book club kit. For details on how you can enter, click here