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Deep Haven #1

Happily Ever After

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Mona Reynolds knows exactly whom she wants to marry. The only problem is, he isn't real.

Mona's dream is about to come true. With the help of her best friend, Liza, she's transforming an old Victorian house in the lovely lakeside town of Deep Haven into the Footstep of Heaven Bookstore and Coffee Shop. If only she could swing a hammer.

Luckily for Mona, Joe Michaels—a handsome, mysterious handyman—agrees to help in exchange for rent in the apartment above her garage. But when disaster threatens her dream, Mona turns to her handyman for more than just household solutions and finds that some fairy tales have surprise endings. . . .

348 pages, Paperback

First published March 13, 2003

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About the author

Susan May Warren

145 books2,855 followers
I can't help be amazed at the gifts God has delighted me with - a wonderful husband, four amazing children, and the opportunity to write for Him.

I've been writing as long as I can remember - I won my first book writing contest in first grade! Over the years, writing has become, for me, a way to praise God and see Him at work in my life.

Although I have a degree in Mass Communications from the University of MN, my real writing experience started when I penned the The Warren Report - a bi-monthly newsletter that detailed our ministry highlights.

Living in Russia meant I never lacked for great material - and those experiences naturally spilled out first into devotionals and magazine articles and finally into my first published story, "Measure of a Man," in the Tyndale/HeartQuest, Chance Encounters of the Heart anthology.

Susan and husbandI grew up in Wayzata, a suburb of Minneapolis, and became an avid camper from an early age. My favorite fir-lined spot is the north shore of Minnesota - it's where I met my husband, honeymooned and dreamed of living. The north woods easily became the foundation for my first series, The Deep Haven series.based on a little tourist town along the shores of Lake Superior. I have to admit - I'm terribly jealous of Mona, the heroine of my first full-length book, Happily Ever After, a Christy Award Finalist published in 2004 with Tyndale/Heartquest.

Our family moved home from the mission field in June 2004 -- and now we live in the beautiful town I'd always dreamed of! God has amazed me anew with His provision, and blessings -- and allowed me a season when I can write full time for Him.

I 'm delighted you've stopped in to visit. My hope is that you'll be blessed and encouraged by soul-stirring stories of regular people interacting with a God who loves them.

I'd love to hear from you! I love getting mail, especially from readers and I welcome your questions and comments. Write to me at susan@susanmaywarren.com. And, if you're interested, sign up for my newsletter, a quarterly sneak peek into upcoming releases and projects. Thank you for your interest and support.

God Bless and Happy Reading!

In His Grip,
Susan May Warren

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 298 reviews
Profile Image for Christine Indorf.
684 reviews110 followers
March 20, 2020
For the last few months I've been reading thrillers, and having a lot of fun doing so, but I need to change it up. I have 4 NetGalley thrillers to do and need to get on them but I had to take a break and go back to my first love, Christian Fiction. I think I found the book I needed to read. In Happily ever after. Mona and her friend Liza buys and old run down house to make it into Mona dream bookstore. She hires Joe to be her handyman, but Jo is not what he seems. Joe main reason to come back to see his Down Sydrome brother, Gabe, which he hasn't see for years. Joe dreams of a place to call his own, is it with Mona?? Ups and downs with fixing up the home into a business, Joe and Mona gets closer, but can Joe stop his running and commit to stay with Mona and Gabe. Can he be honest to Mona and be truthful about his life?? During these hard times it was nice and refreshing to have a love story that focuses on Christ. Highly recommend it!!
Profile Image for Janelle.
386 reviews
September 19, 2011
Sweet and clean Christian romance set on the north shores of Lake Superior. Mona has longed to open a book store in the tourist town of Deep Haven. With her best friend she purchases a rundown Victorian home in hopes of remodeling it in time for tourist season. It doesn't take long for Mona and her friend to realize that they are going to need more help to fix the place up. Joe Michaels answers the ad for a handyman. Right off the bat there is chemistry between Mona and Joe. But each holds secrets that they are not willing to give up, not even for what they feel for each other.

After someone tries to sabotage Mona's book store, she loses faith in her dreams of opening it. Joe tells her not to give up, God never gives up on us or our dreams, she must have faith in God because it's His plan for her. As the feeling continue to grow stronger between Mona and Joe, their past tears them apart and both are left with broken hearts. Slowly the truths come around and Joe shows back up in Mona's life, but not quite as the same person as she thought he was!
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
21 reviews2 followers
February 26, 2009
I enjoy chick-lit occasionally, but I get very annoyed with Christian chick-lit. I really resent religion being forcibly sprinkled throughout what should be an enjoyable read. Come on, they look into each others' eyes and quote Bible passages? Really.
Profile Image for Hannah.
2,402 reviews1,328 followers
December 26, 2015
This is one of my favorite books from March so far. I really enjoyed getting to know these characters, and all of Mona's trials while trying to open her bookstore were pathetically hilarious. Liza was the perfect friend for her. And, of course, Joe and Rip...
This has so much (even a villain and a strawberry farm!) between the covers that it was difficult to put down. I really guessed the "big reveal" before it was given, but the story was written in a way that I was constantly questioning whether or not my hunch was right. And the ending was so perfect...the white knight riding in to save the day...that I loved even having to say goodbye to this delightful couple. I've already checked out the second book in the series! :)
Profile Image for Aerykah.
461 reviews27 followers
August 12, 2015
Loved this book! Susan May Warren is such a great author! I'm really looking forward to reading the rest of the series.
Profile Image for Julie Graves.
894 reviews27 followers
February 10, 2011
Mona’s dreams of opening a coffee/bookstore are about to be realized. She has just purchase an old Victorian house with every dime she has saved up for the last 10 years. Mona is stubborn and determined to do all of the work herself. She realizes after her first look at the place though that she is going to need a handyman to help her in order to get it ready for the opening of tourist season in 6 weeks.

It is not easy for Mona to hire Joe. Mona is independent and does not need any romantic entanglements in her life. Plus there has yet to be a man who meets all of her requirements. She has only found that man in Jonah, a character in her favorite author’s books. He is her ideal man and she refuses to settle for anyone less.

After she hires Joe several things happen to make her realize that someone is trying to sabotage her dream. She feels that she does not deserve to realize her dream. She feels that God could not possibly want to bless her with granting her dreams because of the deep guilt that she is carrying around.

Joe has his own secrets to keep. He has been wandering around for most of his life. He can’t afford emotionally to become attached to Mona. From the moment they meet though he is drawn to care for her. Unable to forgive the father who left him and his brother and mother when he was 15 he can’t seem to grasp that he has become just like him. Always running away from his troubles.

Joe has come to Deep Haven to visit his brother that he hasn’t seen in years. He feels guilty about that but soothes his guilt with the fact that he has paid for his brother to stay at a group home. Even when he realizes he has feelings for Mona he cannot reveal to her the true nature of his brother’s handicap. But he is keeping another secret from her that may even be more damaging than that.

For the most part I liked the characters of the book. I did get a little tired of the constant battle that both Joe and Mona had within themselves to keep their “deep dark secrets” and to deny the attraction that they felt for each other. Also there seemed to be a lot of teary eyes in this one. I’m not a fan of a character that constantly cries. It seemed like both Joe and Mona were always welling up. It got kind of old. Not only did Mona and Joe keep secrets from each other, it seemed that the author wanted to keep these secrets from the reader too. Maybe if some of Mona and Joe’s reasons for keeping secrets had been revealed sooner in the story the tears and fears would have been more understandable to the reader.

Profile Image for Wendy.
121 reviews7 followers
February 5, 2011
I didn't really care for this book. The characters were fake and I had a hard time relating to them. Interaction between the main characters was odd to me and the religious references seemed awkward and ill-timed. It took determination just to finish it.
Profile Image for Mesu.
Author 31 books1,231 followers
December 29, 2012
I actually give it 4 1/2 stars...It was the first of Susie's books I've read (I'm a little behind the curve), but it was phenomenally written! Contemporary fiction has to be well done to capture my attention--and she did it. Her characters were distinct and alive. The setting was familiar to me, which helped, but even if I'd never experienced Minnesota and the Great Lakes, I believe I would have felt the wind and chill of her words. Good stuff! I'll read more!
Profile Image for Sarita.
1,071 reviews629 followers
July 3, 2020
I just love Susan May Warren’s writing. She always gives you characters who is flawed but lovable, who grows closer to God as they deal with emotional ups and downs, intriguing plots and sigh worthy romance.

Mona and Joe was likable from the start. I enjoyed both of their strong and weak points as well as got frustrated when they made decisions I disagreed with. Gabe was such a great character - I loved how the author showed the reader that people with autism has the same needs and desires to feel important than ‘normal’ people.

I also appreciated that the plot wrt the person sabotaging Mona was dealt with quite early on since it was quite obvious who was behind it.

The message of forgiveness - not only those who wronged you but also yourself, and trusting that God has his best planned for you was strong.

Recommended to fans of contemporary romance.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Megan.
Author 1 book13 followers
March 16, 2016
"Happily Ever After" by Susan May Warren falls prey to every stereotype in the book. It's a Christian romance and both aspects are so heavy handed the book becomes almost unbearable.
Warren's writing is interesting and the end of the book is done very well. Unfortunately I would venture to say most readers won't get past the first few pages to get to the end. I enjoyed this book as it was fluff and an easy read. The lack of reality in the Christianity of the characters I found off-putting. It seems very unrealistic. The romance aspect was done decently if not a little imaginative as well.
I can't really recommend this book because of the above reasons. At the same time though I did enjoy it. It's a good beach read, and it's fun. If you choose to read it just don't expect much.
Profile Image for Kate.
1,472 reviews43 followers
January 30, 2016
This is the first book of Susan May Warren's that I've read, but it most certainly will not be my last! From the moment I let myself be immersed in Reese Clark desperately trying to flee the book signing he didn't want to be at, to the moment when "Happily Ever After" is assured, I was hooked. I love romances where the couple are friends first and love grows from there!
However, the real beauty of this story lies in its message of forgiveness and grace. The author was able to present the wondrous gift of God's love, mercy, and grace in a way that truly filled my soul with awe, gratefulness, and joy.
4.5 stars
Profile Image for Chantel.
137 reviews52 followers
February 15, 2017
There were so many things I loved about this book. I loved how the main character’s (Mona) dream was to own her a book/coffee shop (lol, how great would that be!). I got just wrapped up in the little quaint lakeside town of Deep Haven, all of the characters were realistic and likable. But what really drove home is the theme of forgiveness: forgiving others and ourselves, and receiving God awesome forgiveness poured out through His Son, Jesus! I thought every thing about this book was so well done. Susan May Warren is a awesome writer and I can’t wait to read her other books.
Profile Image for Necole Moreau.
348 reviews1 follower
March 10, 2014
This book is a dream for me. I would love to live in a small town and open a bookstore. I loved every bit of this book. It really also helps you look at forgiveness and how important it is for us to be forgiving each other in order to have full peace.
Profile Image for Genevieve.
51 reviews14 followers
January 5, 2020
This was another great book by Susan May Warren. Who doesn't love the combination of coffee and books? This book follows the adventures of our main protagonist, Mona, as she battles to remodel an old Victorian house into a coffee/bookshop. A great sit-down-and-sip book
8/10 will read again
Profile Image for Rissa.
1,386 reviews48 followers
January 26, 2021
A great book makes you yell at the characters, awe out loud and curse when you turn last page.
Profile Image for Nicole.
51 reviews55 followers
January 1, 2020
I really enjoyed reading the novel, "Happily Ever After" by Susan May Warren. It is the first Christian-Fiction novel that I've read by her and I'm looking forward to reading more of her novels. It was a clean and easy read.

I admired the friendship between Mona and Liza. They were roommates for ten years and it was nice to see how well they supported each other. They definitely had a solid and mature friendship because they were able to joke and laugh at each other's quirks. I loved how passionate Mona was about her dream of owning her bookstore-coffee shop. She is a lover of books and it was nice to see how enthusiastic she was with making her bookstore-coffee shop a comfortable and exciting experience for all to enjoy. She was definitely motivated and never gave up during the construction and preparation of her bookstore-coffee shop. Where there is a will, there is a way! She got discouraged at times, but then she always remembered that God was on her side.

I enjoyed the romance between Mona and handyman Joe Michaels. It was a romance that blossomed slowly, and I appreciated that because I was able to enjoy each moment they grew closer and closer together, saying "aaawww" with every step. Joe really supported her with the construction of her bookstore-coffee shop. He worked very hard and did what was needed. He was also there for emotional support when situations got rocky. I admired that about him because he was dealing with his personal difficulties as well.

Joe also supported and stood up for his brother, Gabe, who had down syndrome. His mother's dying wish was for Joe to take care of Gabe. It was so difficult for Joe to eventually see Gabe and the struggle was so real because he went a long time without seeing him. He felt so guilty. When he was finally able to muster up the courage to visit him, I felt his relief! When he went to, The Garden, the institution where Gabe resided, it was like a weight was lifted from his shoulders. The joy and grace Gabe showed towards Joe warmed my heart. He forgave Joe and what mattered the most to him was that they were reunited. Forgiveness was displayed between these brothers and also between Joe and their father, Wayne. Wayne walked out of the family when Gabe was three years old. Joe surprisingly found out that he had been visiting Gabe for nearly four years. He started visiting, writing and calling right around the time their mother passed away.

Hope, faith, love, trust and forgiveness were components of this novel. I thought all of the characters were interesting. In regards to the love aspect between Mona and Joe, there is a reminder to wait and trust in the Lord for the perfect person He has in store for you. God works in mysterious ways and He will surprise you when you least expect it. Mona was so captivated by the books she was reading and fell in love with a fictional character. In the meantime, God was preparing a real man for her, and in the end they lived "Happily Ever After".
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Diane Ferbrache.
1,694 reviews20 followers
July 15, 2011
Mona is finally realizing her dream of opening a bookshop with her best friend who will also sell her pottery in the store. She's found the perfect house to convert into the shop and the perfect handy-man to help with the renovations. Joe is a drifter with who is not very forthcoming about his past or the mysterious trips he takes, but he does good work and Mona is strangely drawn to him. But will he live up to her romantic ideal -- the main character in the adventure/romance novels she loves so much? When strange accidents start to happen around the bookshop-to-be, Mona wonders if Joe is sabotaging her dream.

This is an easy read, an entertaining story, and one I finished during a 3 hour plane ride. It's not high quality literature and the mystery isn't too difficult to figure out, but Joe and Mona are endearing characters and I wanted to find out if they would end up together "happily ever after". It's solid Christian romance. The only thing a bit off-putting were the frequent references and quotes from Scripture. I recognize that this is "Christian fiction" from a Christian press, but the frequency of the references seemed a bit over the top and sometimes distracting. Otherwise, a nice, enjoyable story.

Profile Image for Allison Tebo.
Author 17 books320 followers
March 13, 2017
Pros: This book was surprisingly well written. The authoresses really captured the charm of a small towns and big dreams. Unlike other authors, she has the ability to make ordinary actions and the recounting of normal days something really special. Plus, this book is set in a bookshop - what could be better?

As for the Christian message, there was some great themes on forgiveness that were really wonderful.

A touching arc between the main guy and his brother - I won't say what it was because of spoilers.

Cons: Waaay too much. There was a LOT of descriptions about 'rippling muscles, eyes like emeralds, delicious smiles'. Aside from being annoying and laughable; it really distracted from the Christian message and theme. For most of the book, the MC's either wanted to kiss, kissed, or thought about their previous kisses -all of them, obviously, pre-marital.

If it hadn't been for the compelling arc between the main guy and his brother, I probably wouldn't have finished this book.

I did, and I gave this book three stars, just for the writing quality alone.

I really wish the authoress had backed off on the romance - this could have been a new favorite of mine.

Profile Image for Heather Truckenmiller.
232 reviews10 followers
January 25, 2011
I wanted to love this book, but I think chicklit is just not my favorite genre, and I'm not going to love it unless there is a mystery to be solved. :-)

This is a christian romance. For me the jump from the first chapter to the second was a little confusing, but another chapter or two in the story was clear. There are a lot of scriptures in here, and the characters pray often. I liked that. In theory at least. In application.. it seemed a little drawn out. I wished they had gotten to the conclusion of the book (which you knew was coming...) much sooner. I found myself very impatient with the characters, but that may have been the point? I know this is the first book in the series, it would be interesting to see how the characters develop. Is this series similar to the Blossom street series by Debbie Macomber? It could be, but I don't know beyond this book. This book concentrated on one story line, but did leave the door open to branch out on a few of the other characters... so maybe it could be.

Profile Image for Ipshita.
425 reviews220 followers
February 22, 2015
This was a simple and nice story. The attraction between Mona and Joe was pretty instantaneous. And while I liked them, I couldn't really 'see' them fall in love. One moment they were talking to each other, thanking god for letting them meet; and the next moment both start to ruminate about their infatuation with each other. I really liked Joe’s brother Gabe, and wished there was more of him in the book. This was a good inspirational novel but where mystery and romance was concerned, I found them to be a bit lacking.

Profile Image for Tressa (Wishful Endings).
1,720 reviews182 followers
January 11, 2012
I thought the plot was good, although a little unbelievable at times (such as how strongly the main man felt he needed to hide that he was an author) and I liked the characters. There was just too much "preaching" in this one for me and it took up half of the book instead of being integrated and realistic.
Profile Image for Brooke Barenfanger.
Author 1 book39 followers
May 12, 2013
This book is my absolute favorite of all the books I've read by Susan May Warren. The characters are dynamic, the plot slightly predictable but endlessly romantic. Warren seems to like using authors in her books, as she did in this one. I was sighing throughout the whole thing.
Two words will describe it: Heartwrenchingly romantic.
Profile Image for CarolynB.
566 reviews
February 19, 2015
I loved this book! It had it all--romance, intrigue, believable and lovable characters, and lessons on God's forgiveness. I want to read more of this series about the people of Deep Haven, Minnesota. It rates 5 stars from me!
215 reviews
July 23, 2013
Really like Warren as an author. This one didn't disappoint.
Profile Image for Lucinda.
Author 22 books1,307 followers
January 27, 2016
Cute story but her more recent work is much better.
Profile Image for Brenda.
756 reviews
November 6, 2017
A friend picked this up for me at our local Public Library sale; she knew I'd like the cover :) I needed a quick, light, weekend read so this came off my TRB stack and it perfectly fit the bill. Just a sweet and inspiring story without being too sappy :)
Profile Image for Wendy Sparkes.
Author 4 books20 followers
February 4, 2019
Such a good story, and so many good quotes I underlined!

Favourite Quotes

“Counting the stars, I was overwhelmed that He’d made every one of them and yet also knew every hair on my head, as it says in Matthew 10. What was even more awesome was that Jesus, God in the flesh, left those magnificent heavens, came to earth, and paid for my sins so that I could know this incredible God.”
Yes, so amazing!

“I can clearly see God’s handiwork. The rhythm of the waves as they reach for my toes, the seagulls riding over the lumps in the water, the smell of the fir and birch trees. God made all this for us to enjoy. It always gives me peace to sit under the stars, surrounded by His creation.”
Same here! Love to sit by the sea, or under the stars, enjoying the beauty of His creation.

“I don’t believe in luck or chance.”
Me neither!

“Either God is in charge or He’s not. We can go round and round about the origin of evil, but the buck stops at God. The question isn’t who causes something to happen, but rather, whether you see the outcome with His eyes or yours. Whether or not you trust He’s got it all in His hands.”

“We are accountable because we are sinful. The unfortunate truth is that Adam chose to sin, and so do we. But the good news is that God gives us a way out, through Christ. Accountability and forgiveness in one shot. All we have to do is accept it. It’s pretty easy.”
“Or the hardest thing in the world.”

Mona hummed as she dug out the dirty clothes from her closet and tossed them into a laundry basket. She’d had to empty the basket of a stack of old books, and as she did, she couldn’t help but open a few and dive into her favorite chapters. Thus, sorting laundry took over an hour.
Mona, you're just like me!

“Mona, God isn’t the great saboteur of dreams. He doesn’t give us a dream just to make it fail. He puts that dream inside us for a reason, and He wants to help make it happen.”

“Listen, the character of God is full of mercy—not giving us what we do deserve—and grace—giving us what we don’t deserve. You say you don’t deserve God’s help, but by your very words, you prove He isn’t trying to destroy your dreams. Ask God for help. If you don’t think you deserve it, then perhaps that is exactly what God wants to delight you with, to show how much He loves you.”

“‘Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desires’? When we delight in Him, He wants to fill our lives with His love, with our deepest longings.”

“...don’t judge God based on your understanding of people. God isn’t just a really good guy up in the sky. He is God. He operates on an entirely different set of rules. We’ll never deserve His love, but He knows that, and He’s chosen to love us anyway. We can accept it or not. But that doesn’t change who He is. He’s a God who loves us more than we can imagine and desires to fulfil the dreams He gives His children.”

“That’s how a family is, Joe. Everyone’s different, yet they work together. They give and take and learn to forgive.”

“We all have different needs, different issues we struggle with. Part of being a family is learning to face those differences, forgive, and accept so that you can move on to love.”

“When you forgive someone, it gives you room in your heart to love them.”

“The difference is Gabe lets God fight his battles. He lets God work in people’s lives, and he lets them be human. Trusting God protects him, gives him the courage to risk opening his heart and let out love. He knows he is safely in God’s shelter. He won’t crumble if your father, or even you, let him down. God will hold him up.”

She’d never expected God to forgive her. Somehow it just seemed logical that forgiveness, like blessings, had to be earned. The grace of God simply overwhelmed her, and to be honest, she struggled to embrace it. She seemed to be constantly grabbing at reality, trying to take in the concept, afraid to settle in and be comfortable with the impossibility, the wonder, the magnitude of forgiveness. And of course, God’s forgiveness meant that she should certainly forgive herself.

“Let it go, Mona. God’s already forgiven you. You need to forgive yourself and let God love you. Be His child, and embrace His grace. You can’t create your own heaven on earth. That’s His job. If you try to do it yourself, you’ll never experience the love of God fulfilling your wildest dreams.”

God’s perfect plan, worked out through the sacrifice and love of His Son. For what purpose? To show God’s love to the world. To draw men to Himself, so they could worship Him, enjoy Him, delight in Him, so He might shower them with His unfathomable love. A love that brought the dead to life, that gave children to the barren, that reunited man with his Creator, and that resurrected hope and fulfilled dreams. God was so worthy of her delight.

Not delighting in God’s forgiveness was like opening up a priceless gift, setting it aside, and demanding to pay for it. It cheapened the gift and offended the giver. What she should be doing is throwing herself into the arms of her Savior.

Delight in His love, in being His child.
Profile Image for Kim.
902 reviews
February 10, 2019
This book was just what I needed. My kids have been sick all week and I need a nice story to lose myself in. It is a Christian novel and some of the main themes of the book revolve around forgiveness and turning your life to God. It was a clean, sweet, romance, if somewhat predictable.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 298 reviews

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