Thursday, August 2, 2012

My Foolish Heart by Susan May Warren

My Foolish Heart by Susan May Warren was a finalist in the 2012 Christy Award in the Contemporary Romance category and also in the ACFW (Voice of Christian Fiction’s) Carol Awards. Part of the Deep Haven series set in Lake Superior’s Minnesotan north shore, this novel should appeal to a younger audience. Underpinning the action and the romance are some mighty tough issues, but the author handled them well. Issy is the voice behind the popular radio show/webcast known as My Foolish Heart. Little do her fans know that the romance expert is a PTSD victim who survived a car accident that took her mother’s life, left her father on a ventilator, and sentenced her to the safety of her childhood home. The talk show is her connection to the outside world. When a caller invites Miss Foolish Heart to her out of state wedding, Issy begins to wonder if the small recovery steps she’s taken are too little. Before it’s too late, could she actually resume a normal life? Could she find romance instead of directing others? Unfortunately, a courageous attempt to go solo to the grocery store turns disastrous when she encounters a stranger whose burned appearance startles her and thrusts her mind back to a vision of holding her dying mother in her arms. Caleb Knight has come to Deep Haven to teach high school and to coach their legendary football team, but it is not until his arrival in town that he learns that he must compete with a former hometown star for the position. Burdened with the competition, Caleb decides to delay allowing others to know about his time as a military medic and his resulting artificial leg. Racked with daily pain and focused on his new team, Caleb doesn’t make the best neighbor, and actually irritates the cute brown haired lady across the way so much that she pounds on the door one night demanding that he mow his lawn and keep his dog out of her flowers. You guessed it! Issy is the neighbor and Caleb is the stranger in the grocery store that triggered her panic attack. To complicate things even more, Issy’s father was the football coach that no one could beat, and certainly, no one can replace him. There is a secondary plot revolving around best friend Lucy, her struggling donut shop, and the return of her old flame, Sebastian, or the Sebanator as his former teammates called him. Despite being apart for a decade Lucy and Seb both nurse emotional wounds that they struggle to keep hidden from others. Even with its obvious plot predictability, this novel has strong elements. Lucy’s care of her PTSD friend is admirable and I liked the gusto with which she tackled her financial problems. Both Caleb and Sebastian are not too romantically drawn, but instead are realistic mixes of strengths, weaknesses, new goals, and past mistakes. I was a little disappointed that the town of Deep Haven and its Lake Superior setting did not have a strong voice in this novel. I like the setting to have a true influence on the tale, and this didn’t deliver, despite Susan May Warren’s actual home in Northern Minnesota. The under-25 audience of Christian fiction readers will like this title. Possibly others who like contemporary stories will too; for me, it was a mix of plot predictability and intriguing characters. Susan May Warren has written numberous novels, both contempary and historical fiction. Check out her website for previews and news. Susan May Warren's website

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