Saturday, August 28, 2010

Blog Tour: Licensed For Trouble (Review & Interview)

PJ Sugar is back, ready for more trouble, only to find out that her life continues to go, well, not exactly as she planned in the third installment of the PJ Sugar Series: Licensed For Trouble.

In the novel, PJ is not only striving to earn her investigator license, but also trying to figure out exactly why she has inherited the Kellogg family mansion.

PJ also comes to terms with her adoption into the Sugar family - which Warren chose to reveal in specific ways in this installment.

"Being adopted, PJ always felt less than her sister – that there was something inherently 'not right' about her," Warren said. "She didn’t look like her sister, or her mother, and regardless of how beautiful she was, she felt less.

"So, this thinking made her thirsty for approval in an unhealthy, and then even rebellious way.  The series has been about her coming to terms with the fact that God never saw her as less…but as just right…and more."

PJ's quest for her identity has been a theme through the entire series. Warren sees parallels between her biological and spiritual identities - and how it shaped her life.

"I wanted to run a parallel theme about adoption and our identities in Christ in this story, and it seemed right that PJ’s birth origins be revealed," Warren said. "I started with this premise…what if you found out you were a child of royalty…how would that change you?  And then, I wanted to extrapolate that to…Hey!  You’re a daughter of the King!  That should change you!."

Warren said PJ's struggle to find her identity is common in all children - but  specifically takes place in the life of an adopted child.

"Adopted children struggle with identity in different ways than biological children," Warren said. "They wonder at who they are, how much their genetic make up determines their personality, their choices, even the way they see life.

"I wanted to show this through the differences between PJ and her sister.  I wanted to also draw out the element of spiritual adoption – and how that binds us all together in the family of God.  Much of PJ’s mistakes, challenges, personality quirks and even her spiritual journey are founded in the identity of being adopted, whether she understood that or not."

Through the three books, Warren said PJ has grown in a variety of ways.

"PJ has gone from a reckless, wandering woman, to a woman who has faced her past and figured out how to go forward," Warren explained. "She’s wiser and stronger and I think walking, finally, in the path God has for her.

"Of course, all authors learn from their characters – I especially loved researching what it meant to be co-heirs with Christ.  I think it made me understand my own identity better."

Warren hopes readers will walk away from this novel with a new understanding of their relationship with God.

"God delights in who [you] are and [you] can do nothing to impress him, except to respond with joy that He loves [you]," Warren said. "I think we walk around thinking God is angry with us, when in fact he has great compassion on us."

Looking ahead
Warren often integrates suspense, romance and faith in her novels - including the PJ Sugar series.

"I love all three of these!  I like to call these the 'perfect SMW book,'" Warren said. "Okay, perfect may be going a bit far, but…I love suspense, and I love romance…and a great book is ultimately a journey of truth "

Her next three books will be "stand-alone" novels and will be set in a fictional town in northern Minnesota called Deep Haven - a location where her first three books were set (Happily Ever After, Tying the Knot and The Perfect Match).

She said her next contemporary novel will come out in time to be a "great beach read" in Summer 2011 - My Foolish Heart.

"It’s a story about a talk show host to the lovelorn who has never had a date…until the 'perfect' man moves in next door," Warren explained. "But will she be able to recognize him?"

Her next historical novel, Nightingale, is set for a November 2010 release. It is the story of a Red Cross nurse "who falls in love via letters with a POW…until she discovers a secret about him that might just destroy them both."

What I Thought
I've really enjoyed reading the PJ Sugar series. This book - the third installment - was no exception. I read it from cover to cover within 48 hours of its arrival in my mailbox.

I've appreciated PJ's struggle for identity Warren has integrated within the series. While Warren chose to have PJ's struggle center around the questions of her birth, I think many women will identify with the sub themes of figuring out who you are as a person and as a child of God.

While I wasn't adopted - trust me, I have the "family nose" to prove who I am biologically - I have struggled at times with my identity as a child of God - especially as my life hasn't followed the "10-year" plan I had wen graduating from Seminary.

In the PJ Sugar series, Warren has created a way to talk about issues of identity and faith by using fiction - which sometimes works better than even the best "spiritual formation" book.

The novels, at the simplest level, will give you a book that is fun and engaging to read. On a deeper level, it may just give you the nudge you need to really dive into your own identity as a Christian - and you may find yourself growing in faith - just as PJ.

I give this novel & this series at least a 4.5 out of 5. The characters are great, the writing superb and as always, Warren has left me wanting more. I can understand why she has "ended" the series with three books, but I truly think PJ's exploits and adventures as a private investigator - and well, her romance with Jeremy Kane could fill many many pages. (Can you imagine the trouble PJ could get into planning a wedding - all while running after bail jumpers.......)

I appreciate everything Warren has put into this series, and look forward to her upcoming releases.

More About Licensed For Trouble: 
PJ Sugar receives shocking news that she's inherited the Kellogg family mansion. Though she has no idea why, the timing is perfect-PJ has clearly worn out her welcome at her sister's house.

Unfortunately, the mansion is in shambles, and PJ is short on cash. Rescue comes in the form of Max Smith, a mysterious handyman willing to trade his services for PJ's investigative skills.

But PJ already has a full docket with cramming for her PI license and nurturing a growing romance with her boss, Jeremy Kane. Can she take on Max's case without dropping the ball?

Find out more about book one, Nothing But Trouble and book two, Double Trouble.

About The Author

Susan May Warren is the RITA award-winning author of 24 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.

Warren'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 www.MyBookTherapy.com, a story-crafting service that helps authors discover their voice.

Warren 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!) A full listing of her titles, reviews and awards can be found at: www.susanmaywarren.com.

Online Resources
Buy it online

My Reviews of Warren's Other Books
Sons of Thunder (Review)
Double Trouble (Review)  (PJ Sugar Book 1)
The Great Christmas Bowl (Review)
Nothing But Trouble (Review & Interview) (PJ Sugar Book 2)

It's A Contest
Enter PJ Sugar's "Sweet" Giveaway
Enter PJ Sugar's

Licensed for Trouble, Susan's brand new PJ Sugar novel, is in stores now! To celebrate the release, we’re giving away a Kindle!! You can enter using Twitter, Facebook, or e-mail using the icons below.

One Grand Prize winner will receive a A SWEET Kindle prize package that includes:
  • A brand new Kindle (Free 3G, 6”, Latest Generation)
  • The entire PJ Sugar series by Susan May Warren

To enter, simply click on the icons below to fill out the entry form, then tell 5 or more friends about the contest.

Oh, and enter soon! Winner will be announced on September 2.


Be sure to check out the blog tour here or purchase a copy of Licensed for Trouble here!

Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by Litfuse Publicity Group. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail.

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