When I Fall in Love by Susan May Warren
When I Fall in Love is the 3rd book in Warren’s Christiansen Family series. While it’s the first title in the series that I’ve read, I have first 2 books in my to-read pile! When I Fall in Love is the story of Grace Christiansen, a homebody who fails to see her own potential, and Maxwell Sharpe, a professional hockey player with a heartbreaking secret. Warren also sets the scene for future books in the Christiansen family series by directing interest to Owen & Casper Christiansen and town newcomer Raina.
When I Fall in Love is such a good story. It’s optimistic & hopeful, honest, heartbreaking, and all too realistic. Warren’s characters are easy to fall for, and I know I’ll be coming back for more from the Christiansen family. This title revolves around three things: family, food, and trust in God. Warning: this book will make you hungry and leave you salivating. I only took breaks in reading to watch episodes of Top Chef on my DVR. When I Fall in Love is for fans of family series, Christian romance, and fiction that revolves around food. I highly recommend it!!
“He could nearly hear the walls crumbling, a gritty, brutal crash that left him weak as she floated off the elevator, turning his world to Technicolor. He hadn’t realized he’d been living in black and white and muted grays until that moment.”
A Christiansen Family Novel |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 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.
Win a KitchenAid Mixer in Susan May Warren’s Hawaiian Chef Showdown!
One grand prize winner will receive:
A KitchenAid Mixer
The first three books in the Christiansen Family Collection.
Melissa Ringstaff’s Kitchen Planner
Jackie Brown’s Freezer Inventory sheet
Grab your aprons and wire whisks and buzz on over to the When I Fall in Love website to learn more and enter the Hawaiian Chef Showdown! Susan is challenging you to make a Hawaiian-inspired dish using coconut, mango, or one of the other ingredients mentioned in the book. You’ll get extra points for creating your own recipe—plus she might share it on the When I Fall in Love site! Or if you’re not up for an adventure in the kitchen just click one of the icons below for easy entry.
Hurry, the giveaway ends on August 10th. All winners will be announced August 13th at Susan’s blog.
The Story Behind When I Fall in Love
Tell us a bit about the story behind your latest novel. Where did you find inspiration?
For better or worse. Richer or poorer. In sickness and in health. I’ll be celebrating 25 years with my amazing husband this summer, and as I look back it feels like time is but a blink. Just yesterday, I was walking down the aisle to his smile, wondering how I got so lucky. And life has been generous to me–four amazing children, a rich landscape of faith-building experiences.
It’s not been without challenges, however. Many a day, as I lived in Siberia, I thought . . . what did I get myself in to? And, we’ve changed, become different people. Life and romance didn’t always measure up. Thankfully, we’ve had a long-term view of the game. But what if I was only promised five years, or less. Or, what if he had a terrible disease that required me to care for him all our days? Would I have said yes to this adventure? It’s one thing to pledge yourself to love, and then endure through the unexpected challenges . . . completely another to look at life knowing the darkness is ahead.
I came upon the idea for this book a few ways—first, I had a friend who married her sweetheart, knowing he had incurable brain cancer. He died three years later, and she said it was the best three years of her life.
Then, I had another friend who married young, and just a few years into her marriage, her husband came down with early onset Alzheimer’s. She nursed him until she couldn’t care for him any longer, then fell in love with someone else and, although it was painful, divorced her first husband and married the other man. It haunted her.
It wonder if it was the perspective of knowing what lay ahead that helped the first rejoice, while the second felt robbed. Knowing her days might be few . . . my first friend feasted on every moment and ended well nourished, the taste of hope in her heart.
So often, in this Christian life, when things don’t turn out as we hope or expect, we feel robbed. As if, with our promise to follow God, like our promise at the altar, it guarantees happiness. Frankly, God promises us challenges, so we shouldn’t be surprised when they happen. But how, then, do we cope?
Psalm 84: 5-7 offers answers:
Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
6 As they pass through the Valley of Baka,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
7 They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion.
Pilgrimage. The journey . . . through life, towards heaven. God offers us refreshment in the desert, and places of strength along the way. What if our happiness isn’t only in what is ahead of us . . . but in embracing the now? In enjoying the moments God has given us, even in the midst of suffering? What if we lived with a mindset of rejoicing in the strength, the springs of today . . . in order to bear the desert of tomorrow? Perhaps the annoying vices of our loved ones might not be so frustrating. Perhaps our faith wouldn’t seem so starved.
I wanted a write a cooking story because we love food around the Warren house. My husband is a fantastic cook—he loves to follow recipes and create gourmet food on the weekends. I’m more of an “open the fridge and see what I can create” kind of gal. We could drive each other crazy. Max and Grace’s story shows me that perhaps we are, instead, a winning team, if we’re willing to embrace the moment, the current ingredients before us, and enjoy mess we make together.
Enjoy–no, feast–on the journey, one meal, one day at time.
What was the hardest part about writing your novel: Getting started? Keeping it going? Finding the perfect ending?
This story was the hardest because of the issues that Max faces–how could I write a happy ending for Grace? As a parent, would I want Grace to marry Max? Probably not. So I had to make Max worth it. And I had to create a situation that would make Ingrid and John supportive of Grace. And, I had to grapple with the situation in the book fairly and honestly, not diminishing the impact of the future, but not veering away from the truth of hope and the result of faith added to the equation. Probably one of my most difficult themes/stories to write because the ending isn’t easy. But life isn’t easy, so maybe that’s okay.
What trait do you love most about your main character?
I love Max because he is a passionate guy—although wounded, and he has so much going for him. If only he didn’t have this cloud hanging over him. But Max lives for now, and I wanted to set him free to enjoy the now, the escape to Hawaii—and then see how it might set him free to face his future, also.
When readers get to the last page, what do you hope they take away from the story?
There is joy even in the darkness, even when we feel as if God is not on our side. And that love is worth the cost.
What are you working on next?
I just finished the next book in the series, Always on My Mind, a story that picks up the subplot from When I Fall in Love, and carries it into the main storyline with the question: What if you see someone you love headed for trouble—but they’ve told you to stay out of their life. Do you interfere?
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
I urge you to check out the Christiansen family series!!
*I received this book free from LitFuse in exchange for an honest review.