Friday Favorites, Part 1: Always on My Mind by Susan May Warren


Friday Favorites is a meme that spotlights a favorite author, book, series, publisher, cover, blog, etc. Basically whatever bookish thing that I have loved, would recommend, and want to tell others about. You can see all of my Friday Favorites here. You're welcome to join in as well!

I usually have only one favorite for this meme, but today there are two because I didn't really want to wait to post my reviews and they're both favorites. You can check out my other favorite for today over here.

I have absolutely fallen in love with the Christiansen family from Susan May Warren's inspirational romance series! This book was so inspiring and touching, and I loved both of the main characters as well as the small-town setting and the family that I am becoming more familiar with as each book is released. This will definitely be a favorite from this year and I'm looking forward to the next book in the series, The Wonder of You.

Always on My Mind (Christiansen Family #4)Always on My Mind
(Christiansen Family #4)
by Author
Christian Contemporary Romance
Paperback400 Pages
December 18th 2014 by Tyndale House Publishers

Summary

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?

  

My Review

Always on My Mind was amazing! I loved so much about it! The characters. The family. The town of Deep Haven. The inspirational moments. The friendship and romance. Even the heartbreaking moments that felt so realistic. If you're looking for a good inspirational romance, I'd highly recommend this one!

What I love about this book, and this series as a whole, is how immersed I felt in the setting, with Casper's family (whom I have gotten to know more with each book), and in both Casper's and Raina's lives. This sweet and cozy little town has a lot of history and particularly for this family and these characters. I loved getting to know some of the shops and their owners. The historical society was especially fun and the treasures that Casper and Raina search for and the journey they both take in this book. 

The inspirational element in this story was very touching. For some, it might be slightly preachy. I have found that sometimes books in this genre connect with me differently based upon my mood or what personal struggles I, my friends, or family might be dealing with. Someone I know is going through a rough time and this story was perfectly timed. It's one of the reasons I loved it so much - because of the beautiful message and how these characters' lives were impacted.

I just loved how realistic the Christiansen family is. They're not perfect. They strive for goodness and to be a solid family, but there are some issues and things that some of them are really struggling with. I loved seeing how they supported each other and how they weren't afraid to also be honest with each other. Such strong love and friendship, as well as strong faith. I loved seeing characters from past books and where they were at in their lives. I also enjoyed getting to know them better as their lives have changed. I'm especially looking forward to reading Amelia's and Owen's stories, the last two siblings from this family that haven't had their turn yet.

Above all, I loved Casper and Raina. Raina really frustrated me in parts. I just wanted to hug her and shake her at the same time. I wanted her to see herself as Casper and others saw her and not the unworthy person she believed herself to be. I really loved Casper! He was a little lost, but also such a great guy who wanted to be there for everyone he loved. I loved how he was willing to listen to his brother's advice and to some heavenly direction and step back to become a friend to Raina, to pray for her. It was so beautifully sweet. The inspirational moments and the focus on forgiveness and on loving someone regardless of the choices they make was really great and touched me. I loved this part from the author:
     What do you do when you love someone who seems bent on self-destruction? Worse, when they seem incapable of listening to reason?
       Pray. Hope. Love anyway.
(p. 371) 
Always on My Mind had lots of ups and downs emotionally. It made me laugh, cry (on multiple occasions because of Raina and Casper, but also because of some struggles between Darek and Ivy), and sigh during the romantic parts and when Casper was extremely sweet. These are the best types of stories. The ones that make you think. The ones where you connect with and can't help but to cheer on the characters. The ones that are heartbreaking, inspiring, and beautiful because they feel real with their imperfect characters. If you enjoy reading inspirational romance, then I hope you grab this one.

Content: Clean (There was some brief violence and an attempted rape all in the context of the story, but I would definitely consider this clean.)

Source: I received an eARC from the publisher through Edelweiss and also purchased a copy, which did not affect my review in any way.

About the Author

Susan May WarrenSusan 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.

Do you read inspirational romance? Have you read any of the books in this series?

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