When visiting Susan May Warren’s Christiansen family, it’s like visiting your aunt & uncle – you know there will be a warm welcome and the familiar strength of family love, but you never know the fun you’ll have or the life lessons you’ll learn until the day is over. That’s how the latest in the Christiansen Family series is, When I Fall In Love. (Here’s my gushing thoughts on the previous two: Take A Chance On Me and It Had To Be You)
Grace Christiansen, homebody and local restaurant manager, wants something more from life in Deep Haven, but she’s a little reluctant to risk any major changes. When her family surprises her with a culinary trip to Hawaii, she faces her fear of failure and sets out to realize her dreams and God’s plans for her life may be more – and better – than even she could imagine. When she teams up with Blue Ox player Max Sharpe for a cooking competition, he starts to show her that adventure can be found in everyday life. Max has his own problems and reasons for keeping his distance from Grace, but a vacation in paradise may prove to change his attitude toward finding a future with a family.
Watching Grace and Max’s relationship develop through this story is quite the ride. We see them each experience trials and struggles with self-worth, the fun and possibility of pursuing dreams, and the fulfillment Christ gives when we let Him direct our steps. The message of grace and Christ’s love is beautifully woven through this story.
It’s hard for an author to establish a large, loving family on the page without making them sound too “perfect”, but Susan does a fantastic job depicting realistic characters. I love how the Christiansens are such a model family. Though not without their flaws, each one loves and supports their siblings or children through joys and struggles.
There’s a small side plot with one of Grace’s siblings, Casper (the fun treasure-hunter one), and it takes place back in Deep Haven while Grace is in Hawaii. The occasional perspective from the woods and lakes of Minnesota was an interesting contrast with the beaches of Hawaii. I’m anxious to see where Casper’s (and brother Owen’s) stories go in the next book in the Christiansen Family series, Always On My Mind (releasing 2015).
(For another fabulous blog post Q&A with Susan May Warren AND info about books 4 & 5 in the Christiansen Family series, head over to Suzanne Woods Fisher’s blog.)
Note: Thank you to Tyndale House Publishers for a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review.