My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing!
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?
I absolutely love this series! After I finished this book I just sighed in happiness :) Casper and Raina's story actually starts in the previous book, When I Fall in Love. I definitely recommend reading it before this one if you can. The subplot in Always on My Mind is told from older brother Darek's perspective, so it would also be a good idea to read his story from the first book in the series, Take a Chance on Me. Okay, okay- just read them all in order! I've given every book in the Christiansen series (including the two novellas) five stars, so it is definitely worth the time and money. On to the review...
This is definitely a character-driven novel, which I relish. There is also a compelling plot, but I enjoy how deeply we experience the characters' thoughts and feelings. It's so easy to emotionally connect to Casper and Raina, feel their frustrations and hopes. As much as I love the other books, Casper is my favorite of the Christiansen siblings. His personality is so appealing- compassionate, adventuresome, faithful, yet still a little lost as a middle child in a family of vibrant personalities. At the beginning of the book is a letter from Ingrid, Casper's mother, to her son- expressing her love and understanding of him and his strengths and weaknesses. I appreciate the insight going into the story because it helps the reader identify some of the motivations behind his choices and actions.
Raina is strong, making the best of her situation while also owning her mistakes. Her work for the antique shop is interesting and her boss Gust is a sweet and quirky addition to the cast of friendly townspeople. It is frustrating when she doesn't view herself with any self-worth, but her spiritual journey is inspiring. The local mystery she unearths is a great catalyst for connecting with Casper, and they both discover what their true treasure is despite the adversity that is trying to keep them apart.
(Thank you to the author for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)
“If what we call love doesn’t take us beyond ourselves, require more of us than we ever dreamed, then it’s not the unconditional, divine love God intends for us. God’s love is not cautious, not wise, not sensible, and not remotely conservative. In fact, loving another person the way God loves them is the greatest adventure we can have.”
-John Christiansen, Always on My Mind by Susan May Warren
By the way, are these not the most beautiful covers?!
I can't wait to read Amelia's story in the upcoming 'The Wonder of You'!!!
About the Author
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. Visit MyBookTherapy.com to learn more. For exciting updates on her new releases, previous books, and more, visit her website at www.susanmaywarren.com