Warren's excellent Christiansen Family series continues with Always on my Mind. After a failed dig in Honduras, aspiring archaeologist Casper Christiansen heads home to Minnesota to face his unresolved feelings for Raina Beaumont, the woman of his dreams. But when he arrives unannounced on her doorstep, he receives the shock of a lifetime: Raina is pregnant with someone else’s baby. Heartbroken, especially when he discovers the identity of the baby’s father, Casper tables his dreams and determines to be dependable for once, helping his older brother, Darek, prepare the family resort for its grand reopening. Casper longs to be the hero of at least one family story, but a never-ending Deep Haven winter and costly repairs threaten their efforts—and the future of the resort. Worse, one of Casper’s new jobs constantly brings him into contact with Raina, whom he can’t seem to forget. A tentative friendship begins to heal fresh wounds, but can they possibly overcome past mistakes and current choices to discover a future together?
Not since Karen Kingsbury's Baxter saga have I been so engrossed in a book series. (We all know how that turned out, but I don't think this series will have the same fate.) In the Christiansen family, author Susan May Warren has created characters who are realistically flawed yet wholly likeable. (With the exception of youngest son Owen who, at this point, isn't very likeable at all. I have no doubt he's redeemable, though!)
Casper Christiansen and Raina Beaumont's story, which began in When I Fall in Love, takes center stage in Always on my Mind. Casper and Raina are both lost souls, though in different ways, and in each other they find someone who causes them to become better versions of themselves. Isn't that what we all want in a partner—someone who loves us as we are, yet pushes us to be better?
Though I loved the preceding novels in the series, I soon realized that Always on my Mind had the potential to be supremely annoying. (Don't worry: it wasn't!) Raina made decision after decision that I didn't agree with, and I tend to have a low tolerance for heroines (or heroes) who make "stupid" decisions. Here, though, Raina's decisions—while not what I would choose—were understandable. Warren did such an excellent job of fleshing out Raina's past, both here and in When I Fall in Love, that while I wanted her to be with Casper and tell the truth about certain events, I understood why she was so hesitant.
I went into Always on my Mind with one idea of what would happen, and the book's actual events turned out to be completely different, yet wholly satisfying. Of course Susan May Warren had a better idea of what should happen to her characters than I did! Also, there's a delicious set up to the next novel, The Wonder of You, which will finally let us know what on earth happened to Amelia Christiansen in Europe. I can't wait! 5 stars.
Note: The Christiansen Family series is one you'll want to read in order. Each book leads into the next, and you could be pretty lost if you don't go in order. You probably could get away with skipping Evergreen, which is a novella that falls between When I Fall in Love and Always on my Mind, but why would you want to?
Susan May Warren is the bestselling, RITA Award-winning author of more than forty novels whose compelling plots and unforgettable characters have won acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. She served with her husband and four children as a missionary in Russia for eight years before she and her family returned home to the States. She now writes full-time 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, canoeing, and being involved in their local church. Several of her critically acclaimed novels have been ECPA and CBA bestsellers, were chosen as Top Picks by Romantic Times, and have won the RWA's Inspirational Reader's Choice contest and the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year award. Five of her books have been Christy Award finalists. In addition to her writing, Susan loves to teach and speak at women's events about God's amazing grace in our lives. She also runs a writing community for authors.
Find Susan online: website, My Book Therapy, Twitter, Facebook Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for review from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
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