About the book:
Hawaii was the last place Grace Christiansen ever imagined she'd vacation, much less fall in love. But when her family surprises her with a cooking retreat in paradise, she is pulled-or maybe yanked-away from her predictable, safe life and thrown headfirst into the adventure of a lifetime.
Max Sharpe may make his living on the ice as a pro hockey player, but he feels most at home in the kitchen. Which is why he lives for the three-week culinary vacation he takes each year in Hawaii. Upon being paired with Grace for a cooking competition, Max finds himself drawn to her passion, confidence, and perseverance. But just when Grace dares to dream of a future beyond her hometown, Max pulls away.
Wrestling with personal demons, Max fights against opening his heart to a love he knows he should never hope for. And as his secrets unfold, Grace is torn between the safe path in front of her and what her heart truly desires. If love means sacrificing her ideal happily ever after, Grace's faith will face its toughest test yet.
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This book pulled me in right from the start. It was fun to stop back in and see how Eden and Jace were doing from the book It Had to Be You. It was nice to see them moving along and getting things squared away from their wedding. That said, I think it would be just as easy to jump into this book even without the last one. Everything of note that needed to be known about the last book is mentioned or reviewed so that if a reader is new, nothing will be missed.
Grace has lived her life being safe. She is a homebody who hides behind her food and rarely leaves home. She has a very hard time with change and taking a chance. Max is a hockey player with fears about his own future, fearing the family disease that may be in the cards for him. He never dates a woman more than once and keeps to himself, not wanting anyone to get too close and risk hurting them if he gets sick. They are thrown together on a Hawaiian cooking vacation that Max goes on regularly during the off season and Grace has been given as a gift from her sister and her husband.
Cooking together and exploring together, the two become close and Grace starts to come out of her shell. She asks for guidance and tries to believe that it is okay to take a chance. It takes losing what she thinks she wants to really listen to God and trust that everything will work out in the end, that there is a plan and she needs to trust. It is hard to let go of our self made walls of self preservation, but Grace takes hers down and learns about living life to the fullest even if it may come with an expiration date.