Tuesday, August 24, 2010

‘Licensed for Trouble: A PJ Sugar Novel’ by Susan May Warren – Book Review and Giveaway

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I love it when a character captures my imagination and heart. That happened to me with apprentice private investigator PJ Sugar in Susan May Warren’s latest, ‘Licensed for Trouble.’

Here is the synopsis of this entertaining novel:

          “You, PJ Sugar, have inherited the Kellogg family fortune.”
PJ Sugar has no idea why she is the sole beneficiary of the town’s wealthiest widow, a woman she barely even knew. But the timing doesn’t be more perfect – PJ has clearly worn out her welcome at her sister Connie’s house. Even if there’s barely enough in the inheritance to pay the real estate taxes, at least it will be a roof over PJ’s head.
Unfortunately, the place has seen better days, and PJ is short on cash to make the necessary repairs. Rescue comes in the form of Max Smith, a mysterious handyman who is willing to trade his skills for PJ’s help in investigating his past.
But between trying to catch a bail jumper, working toward her PI license, and nurturing a budding romance with her boss, Jeremy Kane, PJ’s caseload is full. If she’s not careful, she’ll inherit more trouble than she knows what to do with.

Here is the biography of this author:

Susan May Warren is the RITA award-winning author of twenty-four novels with Tyndale, Barbour and Steeple Hill. A four-time Christy award finalist, a two-time RITA Finalist, she’s also a multi-winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice award, and the ACFW Book of the Year.
larger than life characters and layered plots have won her acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. A seasoned women’s events and retreats speaker, she’s a popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation and the author of the beginning writer’s workbook: From the Inside-Out: discover, create and publish the novel in you!. She is also the founder of www.MyBookTherapy.com, a story-crafting service that helps authors discover their voice.
Susan makes her home in northern Minnesota, where she is busy cheering on her two sons in football and her daughter in local theater productions (and desperately missing her college-age son!)

The character of PJ Sugar is adorable! Here is an interaction between her and her boss (and potential love interest), Jeremy Kane, regarding her attempts to make contact with her mother:

          “Have you heard from her yet?”
“No. I left a number of messages at her house and a few on her cell, although she barely knows how to turn it on. My mother has the technical acuity of a gecko. Still, she should be able to answer her phone. I might need to do a drive-by today.” (p. 20)

Here she is getting ready to head over to her newly inherited Kellogg estate, which she lovingly refers to as the mushroom house:

If a gal had inherited a house, it wouldn’t hurt to look around the place, would it?
PJ tapped her brakes as she drove up to the mushroom house on the hill, past the icy-laced stone walls. The house overlooked the glistening waters of Lake Minnetonka, and the afternoon sun poured over the rolling thatched roof, throwing thick fairy-tale shadows into the overgrown yard. The place could have been read aloud into existence straight from the storybook pages, the ones with witches and goblins and ogres prowling through dark forests. (p. 45)

Jeremy has his opinion on why PJ inherited the home, and why she is reluctant to live there:

“…I have a theory. You won’t even consider moving into the house…because you don’t think you belong. You’ve longed for this your entire life, yet when it’s offered to you, you see yourself as homeless, the girl who lives in her car, with only a ragged duffel bag to call her own. You might consider that there’s a reason God gave you this house.”
“You think this money pit is a gift from God?”
“I think God could have big plans for you with this house, if you have the courage to say yes. You have always dreamed of living in it – God often gives us our dreams to also show us something we didn’t even know we needed.” (p. 71)

Max Smith, the man who comes into PJ’s life looking for her to help him find his own life, explains amnesia is a manner understandable to his handyman self:

          “So you have no memory at all”?
 “Snatches – mostly sounds or smells that I know connect to something. But it’s like – well, it’s like a fuse is out. Something should be working, but there’s no connection. I can’t help but think if I can recognize something from my past, it might jump-start the entire system…” (pp. 112-113)

Later on, PJ reflects again on what Jeremy said about perhaps God giving the Kellogg home to her for a specific purpose. This is a terrific example of Susan’s amazing writing talent:

And why had God given her this house? The question did laps in her brain until she finally turned on her light. It bathed the stacks of books she’d unpacked – a dog-eared novel she’d been trying to finish, her journal, her Bible, perilously unread in recent weeks.
She picked it up, opened to her bookmark. 1 Peter 2. She scanned down to her last-remembered stopping place.
…for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
Oh, sure, her eyes would wander there, sitting in the middle of the fairly-tale house. “God often gives us our dreams to also show us something we didn’t even know we needed.” She still didn’t figure out what she might need, but it did feel as if God has suddenly turned His full wattage on her. Limelighted her in some fanfare of blessing.
Chosen. Royal.
She’d like to believe that, really she would. As she closed the Bible, she let that thought drift upward, then listened briefly for a reply.
Only the wind, knocking some branch against her window.
She turned off the light. “You can show others the goodness of God…for he called you out of the darkness…”
Dark… (pp. 127-128)

Jeremy and PJ had another conversation with spiritual significance. Jeremy begins:

“Remember how after Peter betrayed Jesus, he returned to fishing? He panicked…and despite all the change God had done in him, all he’d learned about Jesus, the Messiah, he went back to what he knew – the simple life of a fisherman. He only saw him as a fisherman.
“But he wasn’t supposed to be there, and Jesus went after him. He called him back from his past, forgave him, reminded him that He had a new life in him, and then empowered him to go to be that person.”
Jeremy hiked up the collar on her jacket. “You’ve been forgiven and renamed, PJ. Don’t slip into your default mode and start thinking of yourself as only trouble. You’re going to have to start thinking of yourself as someone else.” (p. 201)

PJ had the opportunity to do something I WILL do one day – skydive. PJ was reluctant at first - then she jumped:

And then she was flying. The wind battered her ears and sucked away her breath, cold and angry. But she drank it in, her arms out.
Flying. Like Supergirl.
She put her legs together, spread her arms, barely aware of Windchill [her tandem partner] over her, his own arms spread wide. She might have screamed, might have whooped, but the wind ate the sound as they hurtled toward the earth. She gulped in the freedom, the exhilaration sweet on her lips.
And for the space of seven seconds, she forgot who she was, who she’d been. Forgot Boone and Jeremy and Max and why she’d hurtled herself from a plane….
It scooped her up whole and filled her with a new breath, tingling in every pore. Tears whisked her eyes, and inside she heard a voice.
Princess. (p. 263)

In the Author’s Note at the end of the book, Susan explains that we can understand ourselves better when we look at the person of Jesus:

I think that Christians, despite the transforming power of God in our lives, can be trapped by who we were, the identities of our past. What does it look like to be adopted by God and then live today, with that new identity, in this world? It’s just not that easy.
And if we’re adopted by God, what does it mean to be coheirs with Christ?
If you’ll indulge me for a moment, I believe the answers are found through a journey of looking who Christ is, a look at His Sonship. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus points out that He and the Father have a unique relationship. The Son and the Father are in close communion, so much so that if you’ve seen Jesus, you’ve seen God. God empowered Christ to do miracles, to obey, to live sacrificially. More than that, because of their relationship, God’s love for us poured out through Jesus, so much so that our entire destiny was changed.
…When we become Christians, our adoption changes us fundamentally. We are given a new identity as children of the King, with all that entails – access to our Father, all the Kingdom powers on our side, God’s love’s transforming our lives so much that we could also impact our world. That is what it means to be a coheir; this is our earthly inheritance. (pp. 372-373)

That is indeed Good News!  

This is the second PJ Sugar novel I have read; the other one is ‘Double Trouble’ (you can read my review here). Book # 1 is 'Nothing But Trouble.' I found both books (# 2 and # 3 in the series) to be equally funny and uplifting! I am not sure what Susan’s plans are for future PJ Sugar Novels, but I will be first in line when the next one comes out! Susan is a wonderful writer who comes up with some pretty entertaining plot twists.

You can order this book here.

This book was provided by Tyndale House and the LitFuse Group for review and giveaway purposes.

I am happy to be participating in the blog tour of ‘Licensed for Trouble’ with these other bloggers in association with the LitFuse Group.

I have a copy of this book that I would love to send along to one winner! 

There are several ways to gain entry:

1) Leave a comment here on the blog, telling me what which Susan May Warren titles you’ve read, and what you think of them. If you haven’t read any, this is your chance to do that! Please make sure to leave your email address in this format – sample[at]gmail[dot]com.

2) Follow me on Twitter; I will more than likely follow you back!  If you are already a Twitter follower, that counts, too!  Please leave a new comment to that effect.

3) Follow me as a Google Friend on this blog; if you are already a Friend, that counts, too!  Please leave a new comment to that effect.

4) Become my Facebook friend.  Please leave a new comment to that effect.

5) Follow this blog as a NetWorked Blog Follower after you’ve become my Facebook friend.  Please leave a new comment to that effect.

So there are five chances to enter!  Please limit one entry per option.

This giveaway is for U.S. residents only.  The deadline for entry is Tuesday, September 7, 2010 at 11:59 p.m. EST.  A winner will be chosen via the Random Number Generator on Wednesday, September 8, 2010 and will be contacted via email.  The best to all of you!


Tracy Krauss said...

It sounds like a fun read

Andrea said...


Jennifer Mathis said...

I haven't read any but I'd love to try


Shonda said...

I love Susan May Warren. I read Happily Ever After. shondaet@gmail.com

Julia M. Reffner said...

Been wanting to read Susan May Warren for a while. Thanks for the giveaway.


Michelle V said...

I've read most of Susan's books and love them. I read the first PJ Sugar and I have the 2nd one but haven't read it yet and I would love a chance to win book 3!

Michelle V

Michelle V said...
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Michelle V said...
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Michelle V said...
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Linda Kish said...

I have not read any of her books yet.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Theresa N. said...

I haven't read any of her books, but she's on my list of authors I want to read.
Theresa N

scrapbookangel said...

Carmen sent me. Thanks for entering me in the drawing.

avidreader at middleswarth dot net

Leah said...

I have read quite a few of Susan's books, I loved all of them that i read! I love this series, i read the first two but haven't read this one yet.I really want to though!!!
Carman sent me.

karenk said...

i haven't read any of susan's books...yet :)

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

apple blossom said...

Oh, I'd love to win this book. I have the first one in the series.

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

apple blossom said...

I'm a gfc follower

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Pam said...

I haven't read any of the P.J. Sugar books but would really like to read this one since it talks about her and the Kellogg house (that is my last name). Please enter me in your drawing.

Wendy said...

I have read her Josey series and the series set in Duluth, MN - loved them both.

Wendy said...

I am following you on twitter.

Wendy said...

I am following you through google friend.

Wendy said...

I have sent a facebook request to be your friend.

Rose McCauley said...

Hi Andrea, this is my first visit to your jazzy site and I really liked it! I have read many of Susan's books, the latest one was Nothing but Trouble so would love to read this follow-up. If I win, my addy is crmcc{at}setel{dot}com thanks!

Jo said...

Hi Andrea,

I'm following your blog.


Jo said...

I'm following you on twitter


Jo said...

I'm a facebook friends.


Martha A. said...

I love Susan's books and it would be easier to list which ones I haven't read than the ones i read!! I love her Josie series the best though! I am married to a Russian, so related to it the best i guess! I really want to read this one as she had better have decided which guy she is going with in this one.....

Linda Kish said...

I haven't read any of her books yet. The Josie books sound kinda fun. Nothing But Trouble is right up my alley.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Linda Kish said...

I haven't read any of her books yet. The Josie books sound kinda fun. Nothing But Trouble is right up my alley.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

cynthia said...

I have not read any of her books yet, but I'm excited to read this one after reading about the summary.
cynthiakchow (at) earthlink (dot) net

Patsy said...

I haven't read any of Susan's books yet. But looking forward to it. This one sounds great. Thanks for giving away a copy. Carman sent me.

Anonymous said...

I have never read anything by Susan May Warren.


Anonymous said...

I follow this blog with GFC.


Anonymous said...

We are FB friends.


Ann Lee Miller said...

I read a Susan May Warren book set in Russia involving a dunk in an icy lake. :)

hspruitt said...

I've read the Deep Haven and the Josie series. I also read The Great Christmas Bowl. I enjoyed all of them but especially Deep Haven.

Thanks for a chance at the latest PJ Sugar book!


hspruitt {at} juno [dot] com

hspruitt said...

I just became a Twitter follower.


hspruitt [at] juno [dot] com

hspruitt said...

I'm also a Google follower and via Bloglines.

hspruitt [at] juno [dot] com

HollyMag said...

I haven't read any of Susan's books, but her titles intrigue me and the reviews I've read tell me she's an excellent writer. I would love a chance to read her book.

Anne Payne said...

I love Susan's books! I have read her Mission:Russia series; Team Hope series; Deep Haven series; Josey books (which are so cute), and a couple others. Would love to read more! Susan is one of my favorite authors.


Anne Payne said...

I'm a follower on Facebook.


Anne Payne said...

I also follow your blog through Google.


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