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 effortsand 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?
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Always on my Mind
By Susan May Warren, Sarah Mason
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2014 Susan May Warren
All rights reserved.
A man stuck in paradise should have someone to share it with.
Especially on New Year's Eve.
Casper Christiansen angled his skiff along the shoreline toward the littered beach of Cay Comfort, the moniker given by the locals to this wash of beachfront in Old Port Royal, a tiny key off the island of Roatan, Honduras.
The island time forgot, the perfect place for a person to hide. To listen to his regrets. To figure out how to find everything he'd thrown away. Like his future. His self-respect.
And if that man could find the treasure hidden in the east end of the island, he might even return with the pride he'd left behind in Minneapolis the day he found out his brother had a too-intimate history with the woman he loved.
Casper had followed the rumors of treasures away from the hustle of the west-end resorts. Here lush, rolling hills brambled with bamboo and dense ferns fell into the sea, and towering coconut palms and thick-leaved sea grapes canopied the creamy-white sand beaches. Locals built homes on stilts, as if still on watch for pirates, the kind that stole their women and dragged chests of gold doubloons ashore. The legends claimed marauders had fortressed themselves in the nearby limestone cliffs, securing their gold in caverns before venturing back to sea to plunder the ships from the Spanish Main.
Casper had spent the better part of four months, in between diving for Fitz Hanson's archaeological dig, plotting out exactly where pirates like Captain Morgan had secured such treasures.
And tonight, while the rest of the world celebrated New Year's Eve, he'd unearth old Morgan's treasure, start a new chapter of his life.
Casper raised his hand to a bronze-skinned ten-year-old perched at the end of his cayuka, fishing wire fastened around an old detergent bottle. He wore a Life is good T-shirt and cutoff jeans, his hair long like Casper's.
The child waved back. "Grouper for you tonight, Mr. Casper!" The afternoon sun glinted off his smile.
Casper gave him a thumbs-up. He'd eaten enough fish to grow fins.
Past the boy, the ocean stretched beyond the curve of the bay, the aquamarine water so glassy it begged him to reach out for the sea anemone shadowing the ocean floor, run his fingers through the schools of blue tang and creole wrasse scattering among the shoals.
But he knew better. Fertile rumors of shipwrecks and sunken treasure, along with the hypnotizing ocean, lured a man into the turquoise depths and the dangerous labyrinth of coral latticed along the edge of the bay. Beyond the wall of jagged coral, deep in underwater caverns, squid and moray eels lay in vigil, preying upon men lured by the hope of gold doubloons and fueled by the yarns perpetuated by locals eager for tourists.
Casper, however, had sorted the truth from the lies and knew why treasure eluded hobby enthusiasts scouring the sea.
They were searching in the wrong place.
Casper angled his skiff out from shore, away from the tangle of mangroves that scarred this part of the island. Yellow-naped parrots and lime-and-scarlet macaws sang from the shadows beyond the nest of vegetation, deep in the tropical forest, home to geckos, frogs, lizards, and ancient iguanas the size of a man.
A tepid wind off the sea combed his hair, the air salty, drying his lips, his skin having turned leathery from his daily work at the Valiant wreck site.
Dig director Fitz Hanson seemed to believe the entire island—and its hidden treasures—belonged to him. If he knew what Casper did on his days off, he might fire him on the spot, send him packing back to snow-encrusted northern Minnesota, where, according to his mother, winter had turned bitter and angry, plunging them into subzero suffering.
Casper supposed he should feel guilty—in fact, yes, he did. But not because he was enjoying his days in the cerulean-blue ocean, his nights watching the moonlight trace a milky finger over the waves.
No, his guilt sank into his bones, had claws. In the quiet of the night, the memory of his fury could shake him awake, fill his throat with regret.
He'd caused a rift in his family that he didn't know how—or even want, sometimes—to fix.
A white-faced monkey squealed at him from a gnarled banana tree before scampering away. Casper steered the motorboat into the quay, where he'd first located the trail of set stones leading to shore.
The stones betrayed the telltale sign of a foundation, a mooring site for sloops such as the type Welsh privateer Henry Morgan might have utilized.
And according to Casper's research, this little inlet just might contain Morgan's lost treasure, the one first unearthed over seventy-five years ago by infamous adventurer Ziegler Hanes. Tale had it that, once upon a time, a river ran through the forest into the bay. Along this river, pirates lugged their treasures to a cave embedded deep in the tangle.
Ziegler Hanes had thrashed through enough mangroves to discover the cave, explored it, and unearthed three chests wrapped in chains. These he cut open, then dragged one by one out to his ship, under the onslaught of a hurricane. Finally leaving behind the last chest, he'd nearly wrecked his ship escaping the island to nearby British Honduras.
Which meant the last treasure chest could still be here. Right here, in fact, if Casper had his calculations correct. And so what that he'd spent the past two months unearthing nothing but pop cans, metal wire, dented buckets, and rusted buoys? He'd nearly lost his heart once digging up what seemed like the find of the century, only to discover an ancient refrigerator.
Yet, deep down, Casper knew the treasure waited just for him.
He moored the boat and retrieved his machete, a portable shovel, his metal detector, and headphones.
He trekked into the green, remembering his steps, hacking at forest until he reached a clearing, his last search grid. Low-hanging sunlight streamed through the coconut palms, mottling the ground as he switched on the metal detector and fitted on his headphones.
Treasure hunting isn't going to give you a future, Casper. If you want to accomplish something in life, you have to work for it.
He shut his father's voice from his head. With sweat dribbling down his spine, wetting his long-sleeved shirt, the mosquitoes nibbling at his legs, and the no-see-ums dive-bombing his neck, yeah, he could consider this work.
He got a hit and spent ten minutes with too-eager enthusiasm unearthing a rotted tin can.
Blowing out a breath, he drew his arm across his forehead. His stomach clenched, empty after this morning's plum jam on bread.
Is that what you want? To be a treasure hunter?
He shook away Raina's voice, but she never escaped far, haunting him just beyond his thoughts.
I'd like to find something precious, yes.
Six months ago, he thought he had, in Raina.
He swallowed, needing a drink, something cool against his parched throat.
An hour later, Casper set the detector down and pulled the headset off his ears. He'd uncovered another tin can and a cup. A real haul. Maybe his pal Doug was right when he suggested Casper head home when the new interns arrived in two weeks.
He hadn't exactly discovered a lost fortune. And he'd spent most of his time helping Fitz haul old cannons, tin plates, and the occasional charred wooden beam from the ocean floor.
He felt more like a day laborer than an archaeologist.
So you're like what's his name—Indiana Jones?
Raina again, and for a second, he let her settle there, remembering her in his arms under a northern moon. The way she ran her fingers through his hair, made him believe that he could be happy in Deep Haven, discovering a life with her.
Slinging the metal detector over his shoulder, he turned it on but kept the headphones around his neck as he trekked back. He swung the detector loosely over the ground, following a tumble of rocks that could have been a stream, perhaps.
Or maybe he was simply afflicted with an overactive imagination. The ability to tell himself a good tale, make himself believe it.
Like the fact that he could have a happily ever after with a woman who clearly saw him as second choice.
See, there she went again, tiptoeing into his brain and perching there.
Yeah, pitiful man that he was, he could admit he still thought about—even cared for—Raina Beaumont. Probably more since he'd escaped the family drama and soaked himself in the sun day after day.
Casper nearly missed the shrieking of the detector as he stepped out of the jungle, fifty feet down the beach from his skiff.
The needle bumped into the red and he dropped the detector, grabbed his shovel.
The sun hung low, an orange fire glowing over the horizon. As the trees slung shadows across the beach, he dug furiously against the onslaught of twilight.
His shovel hit metal. Falling to his knees, he worked out the sand and ran his fingers over what looked like a rusty piece of chain.
For mooring a boat.
Casper sat back, his heart sinking.
He looked closer. The chain seemed hand-hammered, the edges of each link rough and not engineered.
In fact—he pulled the rest of the chain from the earth, found the end. His pulse caught at the sight of an ancient padlock, broken open.
He examined it, his mind turning through his research and landing on the story of Hanes and his third chest of doubloons.
Abandoned under the storm's onslaught, the chain had broken off.
Casper got up and began to run the detector in a grid around the chain, back into the forest, where the mangroves had taken root.
The detector shrilled and he dropped it, retrieving his shovel and beginning to dig.
The now-milky twilight pressed shadows into the divots of the soil as his hand fastened around plate-size pieces of broken metal. He leaned into the hole and cleared away the sand, his breath short as he touched the rough, rotting top of a box.
Sweat blackened his hands as he cleared away the dirt, trying to lug the box from the sand. It refused to budge. Casper attacked the hole with his shovel, widening it enough to wiggle the box lid free.
He crawled his fingers along the edge, hoping to find the bottom of the lid, but as he handled it, the box creaked and the lid broke free, off its hinges.
The archaeologist inside halted him.
But he knew what manner of men haunted these islands. If he left the box here, by tomorrow it would be looted.
As sweat dripped off his chin, saturating his shirt, Casper eased the broken lid open.
Muddy water filled the inside.
He held his breath as he plunged his hand into the murky contents.
Silt sifted between his fingers. He worked them deeper, found the edges, then the bottom, his fingers scraping against wood, then ... rock.
Oh no. He felt around the hole in the bottom of the box where the elements had bashed it against rock, destroying the wood.
And the storm had washed away any doubloons, any looted spoils from the Spanish ships sacked by the legendary pirates of the Caribbean.
Casper pulled out a handful of gray mud, watching it leach out of his grip.
Around him, bats awoke, blotting out the darkening sky, screeching. Monkeys screamed back, and mosquitoes sawed in his ears.
He closed his eyes to his audience.
Happy New Year.
* * *
If the fifty waiting guests were depending on Raina Beaumont to get the bride to the altar, located in the fireplace room of the posh Summit Hill mansion, they should pack up and head home before the snowstorm buried them all for the weekend.
Because Raina hadn't a clue how to answer cute Gina McCune, despite the look of desperation in her young and worried brown eyes.
"What would you do?"
Pearl Jam's "Just Breathe" threaded out into the hall, signaling the processional.
"I ..." Raina glanced toward the front, connected with Michele, the bride's mother.
Oh, boy. They wanted her advice? Did no one notice the fact that their wedding coordinator sported a pregnant belly under her not-so-little black dress? Not that anyone could guess that the father had ditched her long before he even knew about her condition. Still, she hardly felt able to dispense wisdom.
Maybe, however, no one noticed her swollen ankles or the way she bumped around the room like a tank. Probably today's activities—the decorating crew, the cake delivery, the flowers—simply distracted everyone from her cumbersome girth.
Even her boss, Grace Christiansen, had refrained from ordering her to sit, put her swollen feet up, breathe through the occasional Braxton-Hicks contractions.
But given that the elite bash counted as Grace's first major wedding-catering gig, perhaps Grace didn't have time to spare a thought for her assistant's grand mistakes in life.
Raina and the bride had to figure out their futures on their own.
Gina blinked, fast, hard, staring at her bouquet of blue hydrangeas and white roses. "It seems right, but it's the rest of my life. And ..." She glanced through the half-parted double oak doors to her groom, Kalen Boomer, tall, blond, and swarthy, a hockey goalie for the St. Paul Blue Ox. He stood next to the green-tiled fireplace, beside his best man and the pastor he'd imported from his hometown. Kalen clasped his hands in front of him and stared at the floor.
Gina turned back to Raina. "How do I know I want this? I mean, yes, I love Kalen—so much it hurts sometimes—but how do I know that we'll be happy ten years from now? That he'll still love me?"
Raina opened her mouth, glancing past the petite bride toward the massive dining room, holding the delicious reception Grace had created. Garlands of white pine boughs wrapped with twinkle lights hung from the windows, the chandelier, the wainscoting. The collection of round tables glittered with gold chargers crowned with red glass plates over an ivory tablecloth, the room fragrant with the scent of cinnamon-stick favors wrapped at the head of each plate.
Raina held her breath, willing Grace to appear with some pithy words of wisdom. Her roommate always seemed to have something profound for Raina over the past six months as she struggled to figure out the rest of her life.
"What I wouldn't give to just ... know. To see the future and know I'm making the right decision. Some sort of lighted path," Gina was saying. "I mean, look at you. You're happy and married and have a baby on the way ..."
Oh. So someone did notice. And probably thought Raina had removed her wedding ring to accommodate swollen fingers. It wasn't like she'd had a deep and personal conversation about her marital status with Gina over the past three months, and Grace had handled all but the most recent in-person planning sessions.
Gina's eyes grew glossy. She drew in a breath.
If Raina didn't conjure up something, this entire thing could trek south in a heartbeat. A sudden image of the bride escaping through the kitchen, upsetting a tray of champagne shrimp, flashed through her mind.
But frankly—good question. How did anyone make a lifelong decision like marriage? Or whether to be a single mother or give up her child for adoption?
Likely any advice Raina gave the bride would only turn out to haunt the poor girl. Besides, sweet Gina seemed to have done everything right, her future nothing but sunny.
As far as Raina peered ahead, she saw only darkness.
She tried a reassuring smile but clearly managed to scare the bride because Gina's eyes filled.
Raina turned to see the bride's mother slipping through the doors. Tall, elegant, blonde, and not a hint of the Asian descent evident in her daughter, she appeared to be in her early fifties and still wore her wedding ring, despite her recent widowhood.
"Mom—sorry. I'm just having a second of ... Well, how do I know this is the right decision?" Gina turned to her, and Raina stepped back, watching the moment she'd always longed for herself.
A mother's advice.
Michele took her daughter's hands. "We don't know what tomorrow will bring, but you can't live your life fearing the what-ifs. Kalen is a wonderful man, and he becomes the right decision the minute you say, 'I do.' The bigger question is, are you ready to make that decision?"
Excerpted from Always on my Mind by Susan May Warren, Sarah Mason. Copyright © 2014 Susan May Warren. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This was a wonderful Christian romance with real life in it. Forgiveness for things said and a family that embraces everything. I haven't read any of the other Christiansen Family books but I will definitely be looking for the rest of them. This book had substance - an old mystery and treasure. I couldn't put it down. Definitely a must read! I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Always on my mind by Susan May Warren This is one of the Christiansen family series. It is the first I have read of the series, you need not have read previous books in the series it is a stand alone. The characters are written with deep emotions and natural turmoil that we all deal with. The depth of development allows you to really get to know about each of the characters. Casper goes to Honduras to escape past mistakes only to realize he cannot run away from the woman he loves. Raina tries everything to forget and move on from Casper because she thinks she is not good enough for him. Faith is triumphant in their lives and that of their families, which I enjoy seeing and highlighted in books I read. This is a fairly quick read but you will tend to savor each and every word. I highly recommend this book and look forward to reading the series. Thank you to the author and publisher for the copy of this book I received through The Book Club Network (bookfun.org) in exchange for my honest review.
This was again another great book in this series. I loved Casper and Raina. You need to read these books in order to enjoy them the best. All of the Christiansen children are wonderful. Raina has a child from a one night stand with Caspers brother. Does Casper love Raina enough to get over the fact of her having his brothers child? I received this book from book fun.org for a fair and honest opinion.
Another excellent Susan May Warren book from another excellent series!! I finished reading the "Deep Haven" series a few months ago & had been itching to start this "Christiansen Family" series. As luck would have it I earned a free copy of this book through the Tyndale Rewards program & even though it is book #4 I decided to go ahead & read it first. I actually read book #5 from the Deep Haven series first too & found that it didn't impact my being able to follow the series. The writing here is top notch & the characters are so believable. As with all of Warren's other books I found it hard to put this one down. I am looking forward to reading the rest of this series in the coming weeks. I hope that at some point they start making Susan May Warren's books into movies!! As mentioned above I actually got hooked on Susan May Warren when I received one of her books for free through the Tyndale Rewards program. With the Tyndale Rewards program you receive points for submitting reviews on Tyndale books & you can cash your points in on free books. If you are interested in joining the program follow the link below & you will automatically start out with 25 points & by the time you complete a few of the joining surveys you will have enough points to get one of many the Tyndale authored books for free!! www.tyndalerewards.com/signup/?pc=8bba-dk0g-tfcz-mz3l
My, oh my. This is the 4th book in the Christiansen Family Series by Susan May Warren and of course, it’s simply wonderful. I truly cannot get enough of the Christiansen Family. This is Casper and Raina’s story, and it’s a great one. Casper is such a stand-up guy. This family of characters exemplify Christianity, even with their realistic flaws. The flaws, and their continued steadfastness in their faith is exactly what makes this series so enjoyable to read. I love the Christiansen cast. Each book builds on the previous, and we don’t lose characters. This story includes more of Darek, Ivy, and Tiger, and strong cameo appearances of Jace & Eden and Grace & Max. Oh, and it is already leading into Amelia’s story which is coming next. Yet, if you want, each book could stand alone. I’m just not sure why anyone would want that. I highly recommend this book as well as the entire series.
Susan May Warren in her new book “Always on My Mind” Book Four in the Christiansen Family series published by Tyndale House Publishers takes us into the life of Casper Christiansen. From the back cover: 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 like Deep Haven. I like the Christiansen family. I would stay at their Lodge and try to hang out with them. Right now the Lodge is in trouble. Casper has come home and Darek, who needs his help, is unsure of him. Raina has broken Casper’s heart. Obviously there is a whole lot going on in this book. I really enjoy the Christiansen Family. They are not perfect however they are interesting and I would have no problem having them as my friends. Ms. Warren does a superb job of making each character, especially Casper and Raina, come alive so much that they seem as if they have been our friends all our lives. “Always on My Mind” is a wonderful, sweet story with power and depth that will keep you flipping pages. I recommend this book highly and look forward to the next reunion with the Christiansen Family. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
A romantic mystery of love, hurt, family and faith. This story of mistakes and how they deal with it was a hard topic to write about and the author pulled me right into the Christiansen family. I could feel all the emotions of the people involved and the consequences of their mistakes became very real. I enjoyed this story and if you like Christian romance with a touch of mystery I think you would like this one, I certainly did! I was gifted a copy by The Book Club Network (bookfun.org) for my honest opinion which I have given.
What can I say about this book? I have no words to describe how magnificent I thought it was. There is a different feel to this book than the other three in the series. While each book, so far, has dealt with some pretty heavy issues, they have managed to remain positive and bright (in my opinion). This book, however, was hard to get through because it was so sad! That didn't diminish my enjoyment, just made me have to pause from time to time to get my bearings and it made the ending so much sweeter! Raina and Casper had me wrapped up in their story from their introduction in When I Fall in Love. This book literally picks up where the third one ended. I loved Casper from page one. His sweet, tender, loving heart and his adventurous spirit completely captivated me. Raina was a much deeper character. She was wounded, angry, bitter, and hurt. Her mistakes seemed insurmountable to her, so she just pushes everyone away and takes what she thinks she deserves. I did not like Monte from the moment he stepped on the scene. Raina and Casper have a very complicated love story. The title aptly describes their feelings and thoughts towards one another, even though they fight it. The best part of the story was the message. God's specialty is finding lost treasure, just like Casper does. Casper's part in Raina's life, as Darek describes it, is to be light. Raina has to come to accept that fact that she is valuable and treasured to God on her own. To sum it up, "there is no life bigger than the one lived, every day, in awe of God. God showing up in our lives to love us despite ourselves. That is a treasure we can find every single day." Overall, this was a wonderful edition to the Christiansen Family series. From the epilogue, I'm intrigued to see what happens in Amelia's life, next!
Welcome back to Deep Haven and for another visit with the Christiansen family. Always on my Mind focuses on middle son Casper and his volatile relationship with Raina, the love of his life. After discovering that Raina and his younger brother Owen had a history, he fled to South America on an archaeological treasure hunt. Realizing he missed his family, he heads back home only to discover a very pregnant Raina living with his sister Grace. Casper, wanting to fix things with Raina is unable to express to her how he really feels. He also struggles with letting go. Raina is running from her own sorry circumstances and feels that she and Casper just will not work especially since she is having his brother’s baby. This read packed an emotional punch but shared some really great truths. Raina was self-destructive and making some poor life choices. She would not see reason and trust those who cared about her. That was hard to watch and sometimes I just wanted to shake her. However, Casper who wanted to swoop in and be her hero began to rely on prayer. When she would not see him, he prayed for her. When she would not listen to him, he prayed for her. I really liked how Ms. Warren showed in her writing that that was the best thing to do, especially when someone is so determined to not listen to good advice and thus they choose to go it alone. Adding a thread of suspense, this story also involved an old mystery surrounding a legend of the town that Casper and Raina are trying to unravel. Darek, the older Christiansen brother has a prominent role in the book as his story continues especially dealing with his struggles in running his family’s resort and being there for his pregnant wife, Ivy and his son Tiger. By the end of this book Ms. Warren sets up the next story nicely which is about younger sister Amelia and I hope we see a glimpse of the other missing brother, Owen and his return as well. I received this book from The Book Club Network, Inc. (TBCN) for an honest review and the opinions are my own.
Casper returns home after being on an archeology dig. When he arrives home he goes directly to his sister's home. SHOCK WAVES!! He finds the woman of his dreams and his heart, living with his sister. Not only that she is in labor with a baby that's not his. Raina yells for him to get out; however, Casper is the only one there that drive her to the hospital. Heartbroken, Casper returns to the family resort to help his brother with the grand reopening. Things seem to be going wrong with cabin three and Casper is to blame. There is humor, misunderstandings, self-guilt - its easier t forgive someone else than yourself. Even when you think you've turned it over to God. Some of the characters have to learn this the hard way. Family relationships to be mended, romance, forgiveness and humor (did I say humor again?). This is the first book that I've ready by Susan M. Warren but definitely won't be my last. The characters are strong, they have flaws like all of us but I love the way Susan brings them to life. You forget you are reading a book you get so caught up in the story. Susan M. Warren is a talented author. Looking forward to more books by her. I received this book through Book Club Network, the author and publisher to read and leave reviews. All opinions are my own.
Casper Christiansen is a finder of treasures. He loves to discover things that have been overlooked by others. It isn’t just treasures in things that he appreciates, but the hidden treasures in people. Perhaps that is what initially drew him to Raina Beaumont. Her rejection of him drives him to seek treasure in the waters of Honduras. He cannot get Raina out of his mind. So, he heads home. Back to Minnesota in the middle of winter. Back to his family’s struggling resort. Back to Raina who is about to deliver another man’s child. Home is not the perfect place he has conjured in his mind. In an effort to help the family and prove to his brother Derek he is no longer irresponsible, he takes a job in retail sales. He also follows his passion for history and hidden treasures by volunteering at the local historical society. There he once again encounters Raina who has a job working for a local antiques dealer. Together they begin to try to solve a decades’ old mystery of missing bonds worth millions of dollars and murder. In this effort, will Raina begin to see the treasure she really is, or will she settle for the man who is trying to use her? Will Casper have the faith to trust God’s best for his future as well as Raina’s? When I requested this book, I was not aware that it was the fourth book in a series. I was not sure that I could find my way right in the middle of a larger story. My fears were unfounded. While it would have been interesting to have read the first three books, and I hope to do so, it is not necessary. I became so engrossed in this story that I read it in one day. The characters are real with real world problems. The addition of the mystery is an exciting touch. I look forward to further getting to know the members of the Christiansen family. I received this book from The Book Club Network.
I absolutely LOVED the latest installment of the Christiansen Family series! I'm so glad that Susan May Warren didn't shy away from writing a hard story. Casper and Raina's story isn't an easy one, but it's real life and I appreciated that. And as always, the author weaves in incredible Biblical lessons that hit home and get embedded into your soul. Now I'm counting down the days until Amelia's story is released.
Always on My Mind is a sweet story on how real love lasts. Time and distance can’t make our heart stop loving someone if God put them there. Casper left his family to get away from his mistakes, and a girl named Raina. They had a great romance, but it ended badly with Raina telling him to leave, and Casper fighting with his brother. Of the previous Christiansen Family novels I have only read Evergreen, but didn’t feel like it was necessary to really love this one. After reading Casper and Raina’s story I would love to read more about this family and can’t wait to read more from Susan May Warren. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a great romance. There is so much more in this book I want to talk to you about, but don’t want to spoil it so you’ll just have to read it first. I received a copy of this book from Tyndale Fiction and TBCN in exchange for my honest opinion. All opinions expressed are my own.
Always on My Mind by Susan May Warren is book number five in the Christiansen Family series. These novels are set in Minnesota at Evergreen Resort. The focus of this novel focuses on Casper Christiansen, the middle child, and his struggles. He is an aspiring archeologist, who recently was on a dig in Honduras. He had run from a family altercation involving his brother, Owen, who had been involved with Casper’s girl, Raina Beaumont. He had left his pride behind in Minnesota and had gone on a treasure hunt in Honduras where he desperately tried to forget his past. After failing to find the treasure, he decides to return home to Minnesota and try to mend the rift in the family. He and his brother, Owen, had had a brawl over Raina at a family wedding, disrupting the happy occasion. His brother, Owen, vanished afterwards, and Casper ran away to Honduras. He wants to try to make amends for the fiasco at the wedding. He still has unresolved feelings for Raina, and he wants to make things right with the family. So he determines to go home to the family resort and help out there. However, the shock of his life awaits him. He knew that Owen and Raina had been intimate, but he was not prepared for a very pregnant Raina to answer the door at his sister’s apartment. Suddenly he is thrust into helping his sister and Raina to the hospital for the birth of the baby. Casper decides to stay at the resort and help his brother, Darek, with repairs and renovations. He settles in, gets a job as a manager at the Wild Harbor Trading Post, and volunteers at the local historical society. Unknowingly, Raina also settles down in Deep Haven, and inevitably they cross paths. Each agrees to remain friendly. Yet, her new job at Deep Haven Collectibles and his volunteer work with the historical society ensures that they keep in contact, especially when a local mystery and treasure hunt intrigue both of them. Will their past keep them apart or will they each find happiness? I intend to read the first three books in this series; I have read this one and Evergreen. Susan May Warren’s books are always wonderful, inspiring, and entertaining. I received this book through TBCN in exchange for an honest review.
I finished reading Always on My Mind by Susan May Warren. I love this series. I love all her series. They are standalone books because she writes in a way to “catch up” the reader with where I need to be or they are perfect to be read in order so as not to miss any details. I fell in love with Casper and Raina from the beginning and I loved having more time to further get to know Grace, Darek, Iris, and “Tiger.” Ms. Warren gets the reader involved from the first page and kept me wanting more through the last. I can’t wait to read the next book continuing the story of the Christiansen’s. I love how she describes the different family dynamics of the siblings and the matriarch and patriarch who keep the family together. There is suspense, drama, romance, spiritual truths and even some humor. My heart broke for the various characters and the pain they were feeling - from Darek’s feelings of failure as a husband/father/business owner to Casper’s feelings of helplessness and needing to examine his own feelings of ownership as well as his need to explore and feel heard. I love the way Ms. Warren writes her male characters. They are very manly yet at the same time have a vulnerability about them that is charming, endearing, and sweet. This was a wonderful book and I’ve already started telling my friends about the Christiansen Family series and how they will want to read it for themselves. I received this book for free from the Book Club Network in exchange for my honest opinion.
The Christiansen Family is one of my very favorite fictional families and I love every minute I spend with them! If you have not read this fantastic series, I encourage you to do so. Start from the very beginning and fall in love with this very special family. Casper and Raina’s love story is such an emotional journey! They both have so much hurt and heartache to overcome. As with all of the Christiansen novels, the spiritual themes in this story are prevalent and beautifully conveyed. I loved seeing the emotional and spiritual growth of these characters! Another aspect of this story that I really enjoyed was the thread of mystery and treasure hunting that runs throughout. Casper and Raina made a great sleuthing duo! Full of drama and emotion, Always on my Mind is a powerful story of faith and forgiveness! I can’t wait for the next book in the Christiansen Family series! I received a complimentary copy of this book through The Book Club Network. All thoughts expressed in this review are my own and no monetary compensation was received.
What a delight, to return to Evergreen Resort, the home of the Christiansen Clan! Of course, not all the Christiansens are home when this book begins. John and Ingrid are overseas for Valentines Day, visiting Amelia. Jace and Eden are living out their happy-ever-after. Darek is pouring all his energy into the resort, and wondering if he has enough left to give his beloveds Ivy and Tiger. Grace is cooking up a storm, and rooming with Raina, who has become a dear friend to her. Owen is nowhere to be found, running from his troubles in far places. And Casper? Well, he had run away too, but he's heading back home, because he longs to see Raina again. He's thought it all through: It hurt him terribly that the girl he loves fell for his brother, but they can put all that behind them. Everything could be the way it was last summer, and it could even be better. Of course, Raina and Grace know something that Casper doesn't know. And Raina has made a choice that Casper can't understand. So now there are two broken hearts hiding out in Deep Haven, his and hers. I had a feeling I'd really enjoy Casper's story, and I did. First, the Setting. Susan May transported me right to Northern Minnesota. I could see my own breath freeze in the -16* air. I could see the neat cabins that Darek, John and Casper had labored over. I could see the colors of the ice frozen on the shoreline. Then the Characters. The blue-eyed Christiansens are one of the finest literary families I know. Each person seems to grow more "real" as I read and re-read their stories. And I do re-read, because these books start off sounding simple and then plunge like a deep-sea diver into stuff that's very real. In this case, we're plumbing the depths of Casper's heart. Raina is truly always on his mind. He's torn between trying to get close to her and trying to live without her, and neither method is providing him with any peace. Slowly, oh-so-slowly, Casper learns to live redemptively within the tension. He must surrender Raina prayerfully, yet be a friend to her practically. This personal growth was the highlight of the story for me. I thank Susan May Warren and Fred and Nora St, Laurent of BookFun dot org for my review copy.
As I've come to expect from Susan May Warren, Always On My Mind is equal parts romantic, poignant, and can't-put-this-down. The Christiansens are one of my favorite families right now in Christian fiction, so I was excited to dive into another story that would allow me to catch up with them again—especially after the cliff-hanger nature of the ending for the sibling stories of When I Fall in Love (the third book in the series). Casper and Raina were both featured as secondary characters in When I Fall in Love. Casper was so sweet and an all-around good guy. I was really rooting for him and sad at how things seemed to be working out for him with all the conflict between him and his brother. Raina, too, was a girl I instantly liked. Sure, she had a ton of issues and a history of making bad choices, but there was something about her that still made her likeable. To see them get their own story was a treat! Casper and Raina have both faced challenges since we've seen them. Casper seems to be falling apart a bit, but his return home greets him with one huge, unfortunate surprise as well as support from his family. It was nice to see how he worked so hard to prove himself as trustworthy and not just an adventure-seeker. Raina is determined to face her new life independently of everyone else, which drove me crazy. So many people wanted to help her and she just wasn't having it. But I sort of understood why she wanted to make it on her own. Her biggest issue was that she didn't believe she deserved anything good. Of course, Casper is determined to show her otherwise! As far as secondary stories go, Dare is featured in the book. He's starting to fold under the stress of trying to reopen the resort. I think this is one thing that I both like and dislike about this series. It's more realistic to see that characters aren't just left to lead perfect lives once they fall in love, but I hate seeing bad things happen to characters I've come to love! I felt like this story arc added depth and richness to the story, so for all my angst over Dare and Ivy, it was worth it. :) So many issues are addressed in this book, and I loved the focus on valuing every life. Raina's difficult decision about whether to raise her baby or find an adoptive family is gut-wrenching, but I loved that this was part of the story. I felt like this theme played out with just about every character—our identity and worth is in Christ alone. Overall, this was a wonderful book. I highly recommend Always On My Mind for readers who enjoy emotional romance stories. Just a suggestion, though, start at the beginning of the series. It will definitely be worth it to catch up! [4 stars] I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for my fair and honest review.
I have been captivated with the Christiansen Family series since the first book I have read. I've read and reviewed several of the books in the series since then and every one of them is superb in character development, family dynamics, incorporating faith into the characters' lives and personalities. Always on my Mind is one of the best in this series so far. It goes on my book shelf with the other keepers because I'm going to read them over and over. The book is about Casper Christiansen and Raina Beaumont. We actually meet them in the previous book of the series: When I Fall in Love. That book was about Grace Christiansen and Max Sharpe. Raina was Grace's culinary assistant. She was living temporarily with her aunt in Deep Haven, Minnesota, a town near Evergreen Resort. The resort is the setting around which most of the books in the series revolve. Raina met Casper the previous summer when she delivered a pizza to some of his friends. Casper was in charge of a competitive rowing team and managed to rope Raina into participating. That is how their romance began. But she was carrying a secret that was unfortunately revealed at Casper's sister's wedding (Eden Christiansen and Jace's story is another book in the series), near the end of the book. Casper was hurt and secretly jealous. He decided to bury his rage by following a dream of his, working for an architect's team down in Roatan, Honduras. When he returned up north, he is just in time to take Raina to the hospital, to deliver a baby. He knew the baby was not his. Susan May Warren writes some of the most stirring character development I have ever read. Her characters feel real, as if they were people we know. Their pain and their struggles feel real, and we grapple with their problems right along with them. The author is adept at expressing her characters' mental and spiritual anguish equally. If we are honest with ourselves, we can see our own belief systems and feelings in their inner battles. You can't help but empathize with them in their triumphs and failings. Most of us could probably think of someone we know going through the same type of turmoil in their lives. One of my favorite parts of this story is the intriguing mystery the author has created. Raina becomes involved in solving this mystery as a representative of the antique shop that is evaluating an estate. Casper joins forces with her as a volunteer for the Deep Haven Historical Society when he finds items that offer clues toward solving the mystery. What they learn in their "treasure hunt" becomes an intriguing parallel to their own unique situation. Entries from Aggie's diary of a hundred years ago become a valuable object lesson for Raina in the present. Furthermore, a couple of surprises at the end at so much depth to this wonderful story. I read quite a few book in the Christian genre. Sometimes a book's inclusion of God, faith in Jesus, and the role of faith in the characters' lives sound artificial and contrived, while some other books only make passing remarks about God. That's not the way God operates in my life. He is vital, real, and foremost in my thoughts in most of my waking hours, and His principles influence my way of life because He values me and I value Him. I'm delighted when I discover books such as those of Ms. Warren's, which reflect a similar relationship in their characters. The characters aren't perfect, just like me and you. Ms. Warren's characters don't preach; they live, love, falter and learn. They grow just as we do. They are three-dimensional. I'm attract to that. Finally, another aspect about the author's books I love is how eventually the entire Christiansen family is gathered together and she wraps us in the collective family sense of warmth, belonging, identity and acceptance--warts and all. As readers, we get to see genuine family love the way it's designed to be, not sappy or saccharine, but one that folds its arms around the newcomer in welcome, even when that person is flawed. I get the sense that a person could only write about that type of family if that is their own experience. Reading these books brought to my mind some great memories of my own. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. through their Blog Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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.
Welcome back to Deep Haven, Minnesota, in the middle of a hard winter! One of my favorite series, this time around focusing mostly on Casper's and Raina's relationship. What a great guy Casper is--kind, patient, loyal, hard-working, fun, adventurous, a good brother and friend--enduring through repeated rejections. A bit like a Hosea, he learns how to love sacrificially and unconditionally, a good example for us all. I really liked revisiting Darek, Ivy and little Tiger, and enjoyed their further story. Ivy is such a sweet character. The mystery and old diary entrees were an interesting touch too, bringing insights of their own, almost paralleling Raina's struggles. It showed the power of story in reaching out to people. Wished there had been more interjection of Scripture and faith--all the characters could have really benefitted from some more of that. Felt like a few characters needed a good talking to along the way. It was frustrating to read their messed up thinking sometimes. John's counsel to his sons was a precious moment near the end. Overall, another really good addition to the Christensen family series. Recommend reading the others in the series before this one, including the novella Evergreen, to understand the whole story. You'll want to anyways after this. 4.5 stars
I have read other books in this series about the Christiansen Family and expected to enjoy this one like I have the others. I was not disappointed! Today I'd like to tell you about book 4 called Always on my Mind by Susan May Warren. My thoughts: I have enjoyed all the books I've read by Susan May Warren. Her characters seem so real, and I enjoy her writing style. I appreciate the close-knit family of the Christiansens and how they seem like a realistic family with real problems and struggles. In this book I liked the mystery/treasure hunt that Casper and Raina work on together. I saw a deeper meaning than just the treasure hunt on the surface though; both Casper and Raina were looking for their own treasures even though they may not realize it. I thought the author did a good job of weaving these two characters' stories together in a believable way. They both have such pain in their heart because of their pasts. If you have read other books in this series, you will see those main characters pop up throughout this book as well which I like. This book can be read alone if you haven't read the others though. I look forward to the next book in the series! Thank you to Tyndale House Publishers for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book.
Ahhh…the latest addition to the Christiansen Family series. Sigh…I just can’t get enough of these characters! As soon as I finish one book, I am eager for the next. Always on my Mind continues the wonderful story of this complicated family. The author has put in enough information from the previous books to help a reader if they have not read the other novels, but I think to truly understand and appreciate the storylines that are going on in this book, you need to read the entire series. Always on my Mind is primarily Casper and Raina’s story, and it is quite a volatile one. I wondered how the author was going to be able to lead these two complicated people through their trials and provide a happily-ever-after for them. It just seemed like there was too much to overcome. But, she did it. Although painful at times, Raina did some serious growing and learning in this book. She has to make decisions that rip her apart inside and she takes quite the journey as she learns that God actually does love her. And speaking of pain…Casper certainly has his fair share of it! He is in love with a woman who he discovers is pregnant with his brother’s child. Casper always feels that he is everyone’s second choice, and now it seems that he isn’t even that to Raina. She wants nothing to do with him. But, Casper learns that if he truly loves Raina, he must love her as God loves us. He must pray for her, expecting nothing in return. His ability to act in such a selfless way brings him close to God and is just a beautiful part of the book. I loved that there is a mystery and treasure hunt that must be solved. Watching Raina and Casper work together to piece together the clues, while slowly piecing together a friendship, was so enjoyable. The secondary storyline between Darek and Ivy, the main couple from the first book in the series, was also a very emotional one that added so much to the book. This author does a great job of showing how ordinary people sometimes make great decisions and sometimes they don’t. In fact, they occasionally let life overwhelm them and feel unable to dig themselves out of the situation that they are in. What a great way to highlight our continual need to seek God in all parts of our lives. I loved this book from start to finish and highly recommend the entire Christiansen Family series. I would like to express my thanks to Tyndale House Publishers for the complimentary copy of this book that I was given in exchange for an honest review.