Saturday, January 31, 2015

Always On My Mind - A Christiansen Family Novel 4 - by Susan May Warren

This was another wonderful novel in the Christiansen Family series!  Casper Christiansen and Raina Beaumont's story continues from the last book, with Casper off on a treasure hunt to try to forget Raina and Raina pregnant with someone else's child.  Casper returns to Minneapolis to talk to her and discovers she's pregnant, which was quite a shock, especially as he realizes who the father is.  When she pushes him away, he decides to go home to Deep Haven and help his older brother out with the family resort.  Darek's struggling to keep the place afloat.  Casper's always struggled with living in his brothers' shadows and figures Raina never really wanted him in the first place.  

Raina also shows up in Deep Haven, trying to figure out what her future holds and wanting to avoid Casper. However, Casper's work with the Historical Society and Raina's job at an antiques shop throw them together and they decide to try to be friends while working to unravel a decades-old mystery involving a disappearance of a gangster and million dollar bonds.  The new man in her life doesn't like that, though, especially as he and Casper have a history themselves.  She can't forgive herself for her past mistakes and struggles with feelings of shame and unworthiness, feeling that Casper will only be reminded of betrayal every time he looks at her.  

I really liked this well-written story, but not as much as the others in the series.  The previous book showed them falling in love; this one was more about them trying to avoid each other and move on. Casper starts to love her unselfishly, putting her first and trying to be Jesus to her.  The characters leapt off the page, with their real-life struggles and hang-ups.  They weren't perfect, by any means, but they persevered and turned to God for strength and help, usually after being stubborn for a while.  It did seem that Casper let himself get too involved with Raina since she wasn't a Christian;  that's just a recipe for heartache.  I was getting frustrated with Raina and how she let a man she was dating treat her, though it's understandable with how worthless she felt and the love and security she craved.  The mystery was very interesting and I really found the history and the old journal Raina was reading to be fascinating.  I loved how each of these siblings are such unique people, with their own interests and issues they need to deal with.  One of the unique aspects to the series is a letter at the beginning of each book, written by the Christiansen mother to her child, which lays out what that character is like, the struggles they have and their positive qualities so you feel like you already know them before you even start the story.  It was interesting to see Darek and Ivy's story from the first book continued and the struggle Darek has to keep the resort going while trying not to repeat the mistakes from his first marriage.  There's also a hint of what's to come for the next book about Amelia.  This series is amazing!  Do not miss it!

I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

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