Tuesday, January 20, 2015

My Review: Always On My Mind

I just love the covers for this series!  Tyndale has really outdone themselves on all of them, thus far!  I love her smile - it makes me smile back and wonder what he said to make her laugh. :)
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?

About the Author:
Susan May Warren is the RITA award-winning novelist of over thirty novels. A five-time Christy award finalist, a two-time RITA Finalist, she’s also a multi-winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice award, and the ACFW Carol Award.
A seasoned women’s events 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. You can find her online at www.susanmaywarren.com.
(Description [italics mine] and cover photo from Christian Book.  Author bio and photo from her website.  No infringement intended.)
My Review: 5 stars
Excellent story, compelling truth. Always on My Mind is the forth full-length novel in Susan May Warren’s Christiansen Family series. The series follows the siblings of the Christiansen Family as they find and flourish in love. I have adored all of the books in the series and can honestly say that I don’t have a favorite. Mrs. Warren does an excellent job with each and every one. She brings the stories and characters to life with vivid descriptions and details that make it seem as though you are actually there. I love how the stories continue through each book, the siblings constantly stepping into and out of each other’s lives. This allows us to follow the characters from the previous books and keep up with their lives.
I also love how real the characters are. Raina Beaumont has made many mistakes in her life, not the least of which being getting involved with Owen Christiansen, Casper’s rogue of a brother. Raina is so broken and alone because of this. She feels unwanted by everyone, including God. She believes that no one could ever truly love her, if they knew her past. She is beautiful in her vulnerability and brokenness. But she also has an inner strength, an ability to rise above all that life has thrown at her. I loved this bit of a contradiction, because it emphasized both facets of her personality. I was almost in tears at one point, because of how deeply I had been drawn into Raina’s story, how easily I could feel her heart on the matter. That is when you know an author is wonderful at what they do - when they can draw you into a story so completely that you mourn when the characters mourn and rejoice when they do.
I also loved Casper Christiansen. He is a great hero and Susan could not have chosen a better match for Raina. He is kind, loving, forgiving, passionate, gentle, giving, and so many other things. I loved him when I was first introduced to him in Take a Chance on Me. He is the brother that no one really takes seriously, because of his treasure hunting. But he is everyone’s champion. He is always there for them when they need him and he doesn’t back down from the hard things. I loved his heart for Raina. Even though she has hurt him in the past, he can’t help but love her. One of my favorite parts of the whole story is when he turns his love into prayers for her. He knows that she desires space, so he gives it to her and constantly prays that she’d find what she was looking for.
I also really enjoyed their relationship. Because they had a history that neither was able to overcome immediately, they started out as something short of enemies. They mostly kept their distance from each other, but then later found the strength to become friends. I loved watching them progress from being friends, to something more, even though neither of them wanted to admit what they felt for the other. Both were shy of being hurt again, or hurting someone again. They also had their past between them, keeping them apart.
I think my favorite thing of the entire book was the spiritual depth. Susan does such a wonderful job of highlighting God and faith in the story, without overwhelming us with it, or making it seem “preachy.” I loved seeing the spiritual growth in Raina and Casper, as they both learned about the Lord. I already mentioned that Raina believed God didn’t care a wit about her. So her struggle is to believe that He actually does love her just the way she is, mistakes and all. Casper must learn what it means to love unconditionally, as the Lord loves and is challenged by the call to be a light to the world. I enjoyed the progression throughout the story. They didn’t stay in one specific place from beginning to end, but rather the focus shifted as they learned and moved on to another area of growth. There were so many quotes that I wrote down, thinking to use them for my review, but I just have too many and can‘t pick one. Susan touched my heart in so many ways and really challenged me with several things. I enjoy reading a book that entertains me, but I love a story that draws my focus to the Lord, stretches my faith, and points out something I’ve been missing. This book does all of those things.
I can honestly say that I don’t have any complaints or things I didn’t care for in this book. It is beautifully written from beginning to end. It drew me in and didn’t let me go until long after the last page was read. The wisdom found in the midst of the story was wonderful! The ending was satisfying as well as leaving us with a bit of a cliffhanger that leads into the next story, which I am now very excited to read. So, I am very happily giving this book 5 stars and highly recommend it and the rest of the series.
I received an Advanced Reading Copy of this book from the publisher, through The Christian Manifesto for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and have not been compensated for it in anyway. All opinions expressed are my own.
Thank you so much for coming by and taking the time to read my review!  You're probably shocked at how much shorter this one is, than my most recent ones! ;-)
If you're interested in checking out this book, or maybe the other ones in the series (I highly recommend those, too), here are some links to get you started.
Oh, and before I forget, this review is also featured on The Christian Manifesto , if you'd like to check that out, too (the link sends you to the home page). :)
I hope you're having a lovely day!


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