Friday, November 4, 2011

‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ by Susan May Warren – Book Review

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Susan May Warren’s latest release, ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside,’ continues, as far as I am concerned, her streak of consistently entertaining and well-written novels. 

Here is the synopsis of this novel:

Five Strangers with broken hearts. One raging blizzard. Baby, it’s cold outside!
Dottie Morgan has no desire to share her home – or her heart – this Christmas. After all, her holiday spirit froze over when she lost her son in World War II. But when the blizzard of the decade descends on Frost, Minnesota, trapping Dottie in her home with four near strangers, she discovers that opening her door might also open her heart to a miracle…and a new reason to celebrate Christmas.

Here is the biography of this author:

Susan May Warren is the RITA Award-winning, best-selling author of more than thirty novels, many of which have won the Inspirational Readers Choice Award, the ACFW Book of the Year award, the Rita Award, and four books have been Christy finalists. Her novels have compelling plots and unforgettable characters that have won acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. Susan holds a BA in mass communications from the University of Minnesota. After serving as a missionary for eight years in Russia with her family, Susan returned home to a small town on Minnesota’s beautiful Lake Superior shore where she, her four children, and her husband are active in their local church. She now writes full-time and cheers on her two sons in football and her daughter in local theater productions (and desperately missing her college-age son!) as her husband runs a lodge on Lake Superior in northern Minnesota, where many of her books are set. She and her family enjoy hiking and canoeing.
Susan's 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 the My Book Therapy website, a story-crafting service that helps authors discover their voice.

This book is set in December, 1949, four years after the end of World War II, in Frost, Minnesota. A huge snow storm strands five people in the home of Dottie Morgan. Each person in the story is going through struggles pertaining to the War to end all wars.

This book is named after a duet that was big that season, ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside,’ by Dinah Shore and Buddy Clark. In case you’re not familiar with this song, here’s a more contemporary version – Zooey Deschanel and Leon Redbone from the ‘Elf’ movie soundtrack. What a great song!

I’ve always loved Susan’s descriptive writing style. Here is war veteran Jake describing war veteran Violet:

Oh, she was beautiful. More than he’s guessed from Alex’s descriptions. Slim, but shapely enough in those brown pants and her dark green cardigan. He could imagine her in her WAAC uniform – no wonder Alex had chased her across Fort Meade. She had dark chocolate, slightly curly hair and green eyes that had the capacity to whisk his breath away, if it weren’t already lost. And those lips – heart shaped, red, and so expressive, even now as she caught her lower lip between her teeth. (p. 61)

Another highlight of Susan’s writing is how she glorifies God, and shows her readers that He is forgiving and loving, and that Jesus is our Savior – the Reason for the Season. Here is an exchange between Dottie and Violet:
Dottie held up a finger, her eyes sharp. “Don’t you talk to me of God and second chances. God took my son, and I deserved it. There are no chances left for me.”
Violet stilled. Dottie’s words landing in the back of throat, scraping it raw. She found her voice, kept it gentle. “Dottie, the point of Christmas is second chances for all mankind.”
“I don’t celebrate Christmas anymore.” She shook her head. “There’s nothing left in it for me.”
“Except, of course, Jesus.”
Dottie turned away. “You’ll find the thermometer in the bathroom cabinet.”
“We’re trapped here for a reason. What was it we prayed last night? ‘Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest’? Isn’t He here with us?”
Dottie stared out the window. “I hope not. He’s done enough already. He’s had His say in my life.”
“I don’t think God is ever done speaking into our lives. Even when we don’t want to hear it. Even when our hearts are cold.” (pp. 151-152)

Later on in the book, Violet shares one more truth with Dottie:
“I know it seems easier to say God doesn’t love you when terrible things happen. But the truth is, God’s love isn’t measured by the good – or bad – things that happen to us. God loves us, period. He already loved us completely when He sent His Son into our dark, painful, sinful world. We were His enemies, Dottie, and He loved us, even then. I guarantee you are not His enemy now. So, the fact is, He still loves you, even though He took away Nelson. And he’s been trying to comfort you---” (p. 199)

There are several twists and turns throughout this wonderful book, and the ending is very satisfying (you’ll have to read it to find out the ending!).

I have reviewed several of Ms. Warren’s novels on my blog: 'Double Trouble' (you can read my review here), 'Licensed forTrouble' (you can read my review here) 'Sons of Thunder' (you can read my review here), ‘Nightingale’ (you can read my review here), and ‘My Foolish Heart’ (you can read my review here). There has not been one book that has not left me wanting to read more – and ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ is no exception! It makes for a terrific holiday read. I would recommend it as a gift to those who follow Christ, and those who will after reading about His love and forgiveness in this book.

You can order this book here.

This book was published by Summerside Press. I am pleased to be part of the LitFuse book tour with these other bloggers.

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