Saturday, December 27, 2014

Always on my Mind by Susan May Warren

About the book:
This novel is a continuation of the Christiansen family saga. In When I Fall in Love, Casper and his brother Owen had a physical confrontation. Owen left for parts unknown. Casper, an aspiring archaeologist, took a job “treasure hunting” in Honduras. All during that time he could not get Raina out of his mind. He returns to Minnesota to face his feelings for her but when he does, he is shocked. Raina is pregnant with someone else's baby.

Casper concentrates on helping his older brother, Darek, prepare for the reopening of their family's resort (which was damaged greatly from a forest fire in Take a Chance on Me.) But he keeps on running into Raina and his feelings will just not go away. They establish a tentative friendship as they both investigate a mystery in the history of the area. Casper's life gets unbearably complex when Raina begins dating a man Casper dislikes and Darek is on edge due to costly repairs from the harsh Minnesota winter.

My review:
Warren's novels are always so much more than a simple romance. She deals with complicated issues and this novel is full of them, concentrating on Casper. He must deal with his anger toward his absent brother for his involvement in Raina's life. He has to face his own feelings for Raina when she seems to be shunning him. He has to face Darek's wrath as the resort struggles financially. We are able to get into Casper's mind as Warren shares much of his inner struggles.

We also share some of Darek's struggles in running the resort while his parents are away (a vacation planned in Evergreen). His wife is about to give birth and Darek is overwhelmed with the pressures he feels.

This is not a nice, tidy Christian romance. Raina struggles with the mistake she made, the impossible task of being a single parent, and the recurring thoughts that God does not love her. Casper struggles with forgiveness and his own feelings of failure. Darek is convinced he will be the ruin of the family resort. Each of these three must overcome mistakes to be the people God has designed them to be.

This novel is a bit longer than most Christian novels. Much of that is getting in the mind of the characters. Readers who like to be privy to the mental struggles of individuals will enjoy this novel.

For me, the most rewarding aspect of this novel is the family relationship. The family members are loyal to each other, each helping the others in their time of need. Even though some have married and are away from the resort, when a need arises, they are right there. The only one not benefiting from this family loyalty is Owen. I am sure that is fuel for a future novel.

While this is part of a series about the Christiansen family, Warren provides enough background information throughout the book that I think one could enjoyably read it without having read the previous novels.

Susan May Warren is the bestselling, Christy and RITA Award-winning author of more than forty novels. She served with her husband and their four children as a missionary in Russia for eight years. She now writes full time as her husband runs a resort on Lake Superior in northern Minnesota, where many of her books are set. Find out more at www.susanmaywarren.com.

Tyndale House, 400 pages.

Others in the series:
Take a Chance on Me
Evergreen (novella)

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.
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