Cover Image: The Choice I Made

The Choice I Made

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A strong family drama with themes of love and loyalty. Great characters, especially strong women characters are the focus here. The description of the resort and surrounding areas is wonderful - you feel like you are right there with them. A beautiful read perfect for summer vacation.
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Julie returns to her family's resort following her mother's stroke but discovers the business is also in danger. Her husband Tristan is thoroughly unsupportive but she meets up with her first love Chase. Meanwhile other family secrets come to light as a runaway teen searches for her birth mother at the resort...
The Choice I Made is a novel about family drama that deals with some pretty big issues including adoption and miscarriage. The author explores the intricacies of relationships in depth as marriages are put under pressure.
Her parents sent Julie out to forge a career even though she wanted to join the family business. She feels that her career as a lawyer is not fulfilling or honourable and yearns to be back at the resort. Her husband is adamant they should have a child but has refused to support Julie through two mscarriages so she cannot consider another pregnancy.
When she learns the truth about the debilitating stroke her mother has suffered, Julie returns home but Tristan makes it clear she has to choose between her family and him. The past rushes up to greet her as she meets first love Chase again, but her head and her hearts are at odds with each other. She is a wonderfully flawed character, struggling to deal with everything that life keeps throwing at her.
The subplot about the runaway teen gives the author a chance to explore Julie's ethics and gives a greater nuance to her character. The right thing is not always clear cut and definitely not easy. There is an important message about the sacrifices women are expected to make for love and this is very thought provoking yet handled delicately.
The Choice I Made is an enjoyable family drama with an engaging lead charcaters and interesting plot developments.
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An emotionally satisfying page-turner that is so beautifully written it will tug at readers’ heartstrings and make them laugh and cry, Cynthia Ellingsen’s The Choice I Made is a hopeful, honest and sensitively told page-turner.

Julie is going through a very tough time at the moment. Having suffered a devastating miscarriage which is taking its toll on her marriage to her husband Tristan, it looks like the universe is going to keep on piling on the heartbreak on her shoulders when her mother falls seriously ill leaving her with no other option but to head back home to Wisconsin and to the resort her parents run, Wood Violet. A chance to step away from the pressures and commitments of city life will hopefully give Julie and Tristan time to heal from the pain and anguish they’ve endured in the last couple of months. However, little does Julie realise that the fragile peace she had hoped to find in Wisconsin is going to be shattered forever by a chance encounter with an eighteen year old girl called Margaret whom she finds hiding out in a cabin.

Despite her tender years, Margaret has also known her fair share of suffering. The young girl seems lost and scared and something deep within Julie compels her to reach out and help Margaret out – especially as she seems to have nobody in the world to watch out for her. However, when Julie finds a letter in Margaret’s backpack, she realises that the young girl might not have been completely honest about the reason why she had decided to come to Wood Violet. Just what had Margaret hoped to discover by coming to Wisconsin? And more worryingly, will the answers Margaret is so desperate to find end up tearing Julie’s family apart?

With everything to lose, Julie finds herself forced to make an impossible decision: go back home to Chicago to be with Tristan or else stay behind and fight for her parents and the home that means everything to her. Will Julie end up making the right choice? Or will she come to regret choosing one side over the other?

Cynthia Ellingsen writes with great compassion and understanding in The Choice I Made, a stirring tale of love, loss and loyalty that manages to be life-affirming, heart-breaking and uplifting at the same time. The Choice I Made is the story of a nuanced, believable and beautifully drawn heroine who is flawed and courageous and somebody readers will relate to and empathize with.

Cynthia Ellingsen’s The Choice I Made is a compelling family drama readers will thoroughly enjoy.
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The Choice I Made by Cynthia Ellingsen
Publication Date: March 10, 2021
Description from NetGalley...
“One day you will understand that the heart is only as fragile as the choices we make. I tell you this now—we all make surprising decisions for love. Ones that can tear our heart out and leave us begging for answers. The most painful choice I’ve ever made, my dearest, was to say goodbye to you.

When Julie’s mother falls ill, she has no choice but to return to her parents’ Wisconsin resort, Wood Violet, for the summer. Away from the pressures of their corporate jobs in the city, Julie hopes she and husband Tristan can start to heal after another failed pregnancy.

But, on arriving home, Julie discovers resort life is anything but peaceful. She has to focus more on saving the business than her marriage, and the appearance of childhood sweetheart Chase throws her into disarray.

Then Julie stumbles upon an eighteen-year-old girl hiding out in an abandoned cabin. The girl, Margaret, seems lost in the world, and Julie takes her under her wing. But Margaret has her own reasons for coming to Wood Violet, which threaten to expose a long-buried secret that could tear Julie’s family apart.”
Thank you to @netgalley for the digital ARC and to @bookouture @CynthiaEllingsenauthorpage for inviting me to be a part of their book tour. 
My thoughts...
A quick and enjoyable read. Family dramas, in general, are my least favourite books. But, this pulled me in after the first few pages because of Ellingsen’s writing style. Margaret’s story was heartbreaking and Julie’s mom’s sickness was so relatable. The narrative was quite descriptive that it took me back to summer, hiking and camping. If you’re looking for a quick, family drama/mystery and old love, this might be the book for you.
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A compelling family drama with a gorgeous setting and a boat full of secrets. Julie returns home to Wood Violet (a resort in Wisconsin), after her mother has a stroke. Julie and husband Tristan are only planning on being there for four days, they both have high power jobs back in Chicago. Julie feels so rejuvenated being home in the Wisconsin fresh air, she also realizes that her family needs her more than they’ve lead on. Her husband Tristan is not pleased with this decision, but Julie needs to do this for her family and herself. Julie’s summer is filled with family secrets, old friends, reconnections, and second chances.

   This was such a beautiful and emotional story. The setting was stunning and peaceful. The characters were engaging and real. I just really loved the journey that the story took me on. It completely captured my heart and my sense of adventure. I wanted to be out in the fresh air of Wisconsin with these characters canoeing, sitting by the campfire, hiking, and even dancing. A lovely feel good story with a couple twist and turns.

This book in emojis  🛶 🎸 ✉️ 🧬 🔥 🐿 

*** Big thank you to Bookouture for my gifted copy of this book. All opinions are my own. ***
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This is a perfect book for those that like Hallmark movies. And, once in a while I do enjoy a Hallmark movie.

It was a fast and easy read. It's a family drama. Entertaining. Somewhat predictable but that’s not always a bad thing. It’s interesting to see how it all develops and works out.

Julie is a lawyer working in a high-pressure office in Chicago. Tristan, her husband is a financial guy whose life is all about appearances and making money. Julie's parents run a back-to-nature resort in Wisconsin. Julie returns to the resort when her mother falls ill. Naturally, an old boyfriend is in the picture. And a mysterious runaway. And, the possibility of a scandal from the past, coming back to haunt the present. 

There are a lot of emotional ups and downs in the story. It took me a while to warm up to Julie, the central character. In the beginning, she did not show any strength but as the story evolved, so did her character evolve. In fact, I ended up liking all the characters in the story.

I loved the setting of Wood Violet, the resort which was the location of almost the whole book. The author did a great job describing the location and resort itself. It sounds like a place I would love to spend time at.

The conclusion of the story did have an elemental of surprise, which was very welcome. I was very happy with the way everything wrapped up. 

There was a letter from the author to the readers at the end. She explained that she spent 2020 writing this book and that it was a great escape from the pandemic. Here it is, 2O21, and now reading this book was a pleasant escape from the still ongoing pandemic for me.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher. The views expressed in this review are strictly my own.
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4.2 Stars 

The Choice I Made is the story of Julie, who has to make more than one decision in a relatively short time. The book also deals with the choices another person was forced to make and how that changed the current events. 
Told from Julie’s perspective, the book highlights the importance of family, support, and having a loving partner. Most of the characters are well-etched though the two crucial ones didn’t get enough space. 
It is easy to invest in the characters and feel for them. The author has us hooked from the first page, and we keeping rooting for the ones we love. Julie is confused, frustrated, and even terrified at times. But she doesn’t ramble or act like a nitwit. Not once did she come across as stupid. In fact, no character is a caricature, even the unlikable Tristan, Julie’s husband. He has many faults, but he is not a villain or a disgusting two-dimensional man. 
I found myself wanting to read faster and know what happens next. The writing holds the readers’ interest, and that, for me is a huge plus. 
Overall, this is a bittersweet book with a happy ending about life, choices, and love. 

Thank you, NetGalley and Bookouture, for the ARC.
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This was my first book by this author. Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to read this book for an honest review. 
I truly enjoyed the whole story. There were different stories woven into one family. There were secrets that were very hurtful and life changing. 
I hope to read the next book . I love that it was written during the pandemic.
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The Choice I Made
By Cynthia Ellingsen

Cynthia Ellingsen deftly writes a beautiful story about a woman at a crossroads and at the verge of a life changing decision making to continue the what is, or to make a change possiblevat a second chance and re-explore a new possibility for the future. 

Julie's mother falls ill suffering a stroke, so she returns to Wisconsin to help with their family's resort, Wood Violet and help care for her mother, despite her husband Tristan's objections and who is anxious for them to go back to their busy lives in Chicago. Julie decides that she must stay given the condition of her mother and the failing resort. While there she reconnects with her old friend Chase and discovers a young teen Margaret living in one of the abandoned cabin who is in search of her biological mother. 

I loved the story and I immediately became invested with the family drama, the characters and the situation our protagonist finds herself in. 

As a stroke nurse myself, I thought that how the family experienced a life-changing diagnosis was so well written by Ellingson. She captured how the family dynamics change after a life changing event, especially something like a stroke. I thought it was very well done. 

Overall I really enjoyed Cynthia Ellingson's writing. As a new author for me, she is someone I will definitely keep an eye out on for her future novels. In this novel, she really captured very well on the themes of family, love, second chances, and how sometimes finding yourself is through giving yourself to the service of others.
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This is a new author for me. The Choice I Made is a terrific read and I will definitely read more of her work. I loved the way the author structured the book with information given in small doses and spread across the book so you need to keep reading to get all the clues and find out the truth. Who is Margaret’s mother and was has she come looking for her in Wood Violet? What’s the link to Julie’s family and what will happen when it comes out? Will Julie work things out with Tristan or is Chase her true love? This is well written and compelling with excellent characters and I didn’t want to stop reading each time I sat down and picked the book up. The characters are so real I felt like I really got to know them. Tristan was a horrible man, pompous and arrogant trying to make Julie feel guilty for choosing to stay and help at Wood Violent after her mother has a stroke.
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Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

This is the first book I have read by Cynthia Ellingsen, and for certain, will not be my last. I was intrigued to request this book not only by the synopsis, but the gorgeous cover art. I love reading domestic drama/family drama, and this book just completely hit that nail on the head. The characters were so easy to relate to and the setting was beautiful. The author's writing style is something that helped take me away like a book should, and I want to read more by her for this reason. One of the best books I've read so far in 2021.
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This is the first book I’d read by Cynthia Ellingsen and it certainly won’t be the last!
Julie’s mother falls ill and has to return to her parents’ Wisconsin resort, Wood Violet, for the summer. Away from the pressures of their corporate jobs in the city, Julie hopes she and husband Tristan can start to heal after another failed pregnancy.

However, after arriving home, Julie discovers resort life is anything but peaceful. She has to focus more on saving the business than her marriage, and the appearance of childhood sweetheart Chase throws her into disarray.

Julie stumbles upon an eighteen-year-old girl hiding out in an abandoned cabin. The girl, Margaret, seems lost in the world, and Julie takes her under her wing. But Margaret has her own reasons for coming to Wood Violet, which threaten to expose a long-buried secret that could tear Julie’s family apart.

As the summer draws to the close, Julie must make a choice: will she return to Chicago with the man she married, or stay and fight for her family with the man she once loved?
This is a very well written book about love, family, friendships and the true meaning of happiness.

Thank you to the publisher Bookouture and NetGalley for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review
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I have a confession to make before I start. Despite just saying that I am looking for more light-hearted entertainment, I did go into The Choice I Made looking for something a bit more dramatic. When I realised it wouldn’t be, I was a bit disappointed at the start. But I grew to really like this book and I’m happy to be recommending it to you today.

Usually for me, I get pulled in by a storyline or I form some sort of connection to a character. This is the first time I ever enjoyed a book because of its setting. Wood Violet just reminded me of a simpler time, away from the stresses of modern life. Lately, I have been craving that more and more, so I allowed myself to get lost in the resort until I can find the same in real life. It reminded me of holidays in the Irish countryside, where hours of fun were had just playing in nature, when technology and fancy holidays abroad weren’t a thing. It was about appreciating the little things in life and it was great.

Most of the characters in The Choice I Made are great. They really have a sense of comradeship, whether it be friends or family helping each other through tough times. The only character that isn’t very likable was Tristan but, as you will see as you read the book, he was written that way for a reason. I also enjoyed the reflection on the fact that while our hearts might be in the right place, the decisions we make may not always be the right ones.

Overall, The Choice I Made is a nice family drama that will get you through a few hours at home.
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The Choice I Made is a captivating domestic drama about the sacrifices we make for those we love, the consequences of the decisions we make and the secrets that can echo down through the generations. Thirtysomething Julie Scott and her husband, Tristan, have been married for three years, live and work in Chicago, Illinois and both have stressful high-powered jobs — she is a corporate lawyer representing famous and wealthy clientele — that barely give them a moment to themselves, but when Julie suffers several miscarriages their marriage becomes strained. They decide to try to reconcile and come to terms with the tragedy of losing the babies by spending a much-needed four-day long weekend together at her family’s exclusive 140-acre Wisconsin resort — Wood Violet — built fifty years ago by her grandfather and bequeathed to her parents who are now the proprietors. The cabin in which they are staying has stunning views overlooking Lake Florentine and is the perfect getaway, but Tristan isn't exactly best pleased to be there and seems jealous of the luxury in which Julie grew up. Julie is concerned as she knows her mother had had a stroke but before she's allowed to see her, her father asks to meet up at The But to talk, the only place with real privacy on the estate. He had told her over the phone that her mum was doing fine but they hadn't wanted to worry her. It turns out that she is paralysed and immobile and this deeply upsets Julie as she would've been there to help sooner had she known. She appears depressed and their normally tidy home is a mess as her father spends all of his time almost single-handedly running and keeping the resort afloat. 

Much to Tristan’s chagrin, Julie decides to stay to help out her parents at least until the end of the summer and he travels back to the city alone seething with anger that she has put her parents before their marriage. It's a tough decision for her to make but she feels she's needed more by them at home, and with the resort in some financial trouble, she wants to ensure she can assist in saving the place she adores. In an attempt to reacquaint herself with the place she heads out to the dilapidated cabins on the edge of the property and discovers eighteen-year-old runaway Margaret hiding in one of the abandoned ones. She is looking for her biological mother and her investigation had led her to Wood Violet. Julie reconnects with old friends as well as her childhood sweetheart, Chase, and is having problems determining whether to stay where she loves with her family or move back to Chicago to be with an unsupportive, snarky husband who she is now having second thoughts about. When shocking, life-altering secrets and lies are revealed what will Julie decide to do? This is a compulsive, captivating and multilayered domestic drama packed full of emotion, twists, revelations, betrayal, jealousy, lies, mystery, difficult decisions and long-held secrets that rock the family to their core. At its heart, though, this is a story about finding your true home — that one place where you feel you truly belong and the importance of holding onto happiness whenever and wherever it arises. It's beautifully written with a cast easy to become invested in and an engaging and absorbing plot all set against an exquisite rural backdrop. Highly recommended.
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I've never read a Cynthia Ellingsen book before but I wished I had because this book was very good.

The storyline was well written and easy to read. The characters developed well as the book went on.

The raw emotions are felt very well just like a normal person would feel.

I enjoyed this book and will read more when I get the chance.
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3.5 stars

When Julie goes home to help her mother, she never knew her life would change in so many ways.  When she returns to Wood Violet, her parents Wisconsin resort, Julie has two goals - to help her mother and to heal her marriage after yet another miscarriage. Although Tristan, her husband is with her, his actions speak louder than words. He wants to go back to Chicago where his career is on the rise. 

Julie wants to focus on helping at the resort, helping her Mother and becoming reacquainted with old friends, namely Chase her childhood sweetheart.  She also becomes acquainted with Margaret, an eighteen-year-old hiding in an old cabin.  Margaret has her own reasons for being at the resort.  She has a secret which could change things for Julie and her family.

Family is the name of the game here - family secrets, being a family, and helping family are BIG here. So is the emphasis on finding what you want in life, going home, finding a home, and making tough choices.  The book also touches on romantic love, friendship, jealousy, betrayal, secrets, ultimatums, caring, hope and starting over. 

An enjoyable book from an author I look forward to reading more of in the future.  Beautifully written, with just the right amount drama to keep the reader engaged.  The characters are likeable, and I was invested in what happened to them. This was a captivating family drama with a couple of twists, turns and revelations.  

Thank you to Bookouture and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Julie’s mother has had a stroke, and for weeks her father has said she is doing fine, but when Julie arrives for a weekend at their family’s Wisconsin resort, Wood Violet, she finds that her mother is not doing well and is not mobile.  Despite the objections of her husband Tristan,  Julie decides to stay and help out with her mother and the business for the summer.  When she meets teenage Margaret, who is staying in an abandoned cabin and searching for her biological mother, Julie develops a connection with her.  She also reconnects with her old friends, including her ex-boyfriend Chase.  But secrets and lies come to the surface.  Will it break them all apart?

This is was nice family story about supporting each other in the hard times and what happens when you don’t.  Margaret’s search for her mother with Julie’s help is interesting.  Julie’s connection to the woods, the cabins, and the area are heartfelt and believable, as is her strong desire to protect her family. However, the character Tristan is quite over the top.  There were surprises that were not all that hard to figure out, but all in all this was an enjoyable family story with a touch of mystery and romance. Three and a half stars, rounded up to four.

I received a free copy of this book from Bookouture via Netgalley.  My review is voluntary.
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This is the first book I’d read by Cynthia Ellingsen. The premise of this book captured my attention and the setting description is beautiful At times it just so happens that a family binds itself together when a deep dark secret is revealed.  Well written.  Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for an arc in exchange for a honest review.
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Thank you to Netgalley and Bookouture for providing me me an e-arc of this book in exchange for my honest review.

This book enabled me to escape; I felt like I was spending a summer vacation in a wooden cabin by the lake. I love when I find a little gem such as this book that ends up surprising me.  I could very well picture a movie made out of this story.

It is simple and tells the story of a family going through business challenges and the female protagonist reevaluating her life and marriage.  There is love, there is friendship and mystery. Most of all, you get to witness childhood memories.

The author succeeded in setting the location so that it warms your heart and truly makes you escape.

Cute story. Very unexpected!
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Choices Are Rarely Clear Cut. Ellingsen does a remarkable job here of showing the tensions between competing choices so many of us face. Spouse vs genetic family. City vs rural. What I wanted to be vs what society made me into. Finding myself vs keeping what I have. And so many more. All within a solid tale ostensibly about a childless married woman trying to help save her family's Dirty Dancing-style wilderness resort... and stumbling across a secret that could bring it all tumbling down. Excellent work layering so many issues into a readable and average ish length (circa 300 page) story. Very much recommended.
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