It Had to be You
By Susan May Warren
Published by Tyndale
378 Pages

Back Cover: 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.

REVIEW: I was captivated by book one; Take a Chance on Me; which made me anxious to read book two in the series, It Had to Be You. This series is about the Christiansen family. Each book focuses on a different family member; in this book we get to know Eden and Owen Christiansen. The story is told through Eden’s eyes. One thing about the Christiansen’s they are loyal and they have each other’s back. Eden starts to realize that the relationship she has with her brother Owen has to change. She understands this even more when a friend points something out and she reacts,…”I’m not obsessed. He’s my brother.”

“He takes up all the available space in your life. And you let him.”

…”I’m his big sister.”

“Right. Not his trainer. Not his coach, not his mother…You gotta show a little tough love here; Eden.”

This makes her take a hard look at her life. “Was she living her life and seeking her dreams? Or was she putting her life live on hold so her brother could achieve his dreams? She cheered him on and lost sight of her calling?”

Her brother was not walking out his heritage of faith but living reckless and his life was spinning out of control. He was about to lose what he’s worked so hard to achieve. Eden didn’t understand what was going on with him.

Jace, hockey team captain is stuck in a rut. He’d lost the love of the game. He didn’t want to keep Owen and the other newbies on track motivated. He wasn’t a babysitter. So what was his role? How did he get them to jell and become a team? The media painted him as a womanizer, who’s self-centered; an uncaring individual. They weren’t right about him. They didn’t know the whole story and he wasn’t about to tell them. It would get lost in translation anyway.

Eden sees a totally different side of Jace when she learns about his relationship with Sam and his young daughter Maddy. His friend has a huge struggle. Jace tries to be there for his friend and help when he can. Sam says to Jace in the hospital, “All this time I thought it was up to me to make sure Maddy got a heart, kept her heart. And yes, she’s my child. But it was right there all the time.”…I’ve been holding on so hard to God in all this. But I think I’m supposed to let go – and Ask God to hold onto me. To pick me up like I do Maddy and carry me. I can’t do it anymore. I’ve been angry and stubborn and I need a new heart as badly as Maddy does. I’m tired of trying to fix it. I can’t do it. And I don’t think I’m supposed to”…I’m sitting here letting go. Putting my daughter into the hands of the Lord. Believing his plans are greater than mine.”

While in the hospital Eden and Jace stumble upon a person she feels compelled to help. Jace and Eden embark on a journey to uncover a mystery there; someone’s life is on the line. They need answers fast. There findings could be Eden’s big break in the newspaper business.

I’ll never forget doing the very thing Sam did with my child went into heart surgery! This is what I love about this story. It’s transparent and raw. It’s real people facing some impossible situations in a simplistic, impossible ways. They are not super spiritual or pie in the sky but honest in dealing with what comes their way. Get out the tissues for this one. This story touched my heart on so many levels and is a situation I won’t soon forget.

I highly recommend it as a Great read that it would make a wonderful book club pick. There is so much to talk about. This author also has 15 discussion questions for you to dig deeper into this story and its characters. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in this series and learn about another member in the Christiansen family.

BONUS STORY INCLUDED – it’s about the parents INGRID and JOHN CHRISTIANSEN LOVED this novella titled I Really Do Miss Your Smile.

The story starts out with how the Christiansen parents met each other. It wasn’t love at first site for John Christiansen. His family owned the Evergreen Lake Resort. It was a place where families vacationed every year. It kind of reminded me of the Dirty Dancing movie where families went on vacation and had fun activities for all. Ingrid had a sister named Kari that was very different than she was. Kari was older and experienced; Ingrid was the younger innocent one. It also reminded me of It’s a Wonderful Life in the fact that John was out to see the world. He had to get out of Deep Haven. Ingrid loved that Deep Haven was a small town; she wanted to raise her family there. George Bailey was bound and determined to leave the small town he grew up in. Mary went away to college but looked forward to coming back to her small town to life out her days. That was the struggle between Ingrid and John too. This is an emotional gripping read that will pull at your heart strings and have you rejoice at the end!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from The Book Club Network  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”.

Nora St. Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins
The Book Club Network blog
Book Fun Magazine


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