Always on My Mind
By Susan May Warren
Published by Tyndale
380 Pages

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?

REVIEW: Serious mystery, suspense and fun all rolled into this installment of the Christiansen series. Not only do readers get to hang out with Raina and Casper but Ivy, Darek and Tiger are in a good part of the story-line as well. A few other family members pop in as Ivy and Darek await the arrival of their bundle of joy. The only one missing is Owen.

His relationship with Tiger’s mom was strained and he wasn’t there for Tiger’s birth. Darek is madly in love with Ivy. He wants things to go smoothly for her or their baby. He feels the pressure to be a perfect father to Tiger and this new little one. He wants to get things right for the Evergreen Resort and the grand re-opening. He’s put a lot of pressure on Casper and himself to get things done in time.

Casper has taken a part-time job at the Historical Society to keep him afloat as he helps restore his parents resort. While at the society he stumbles upon the Duncan Rothe mystery. Duncan was a gangster and bootlegger back in the roaring 20’s. Some say he robbed a bank; others say he’s a murderer. “Whatever the truth is, all agree he escaped north with a million dollars of U.S. Steel Bonds in his possession” The bonds are still missing and the US Steel has offered a 10% finder’s fee for the bonds. People have tried for years to locate them. Could Casper find them?

Raina Beaumount, finds herself back in Deep Haven for healing. She has an opportunity to inventory Aggie Wilder’s estate. The granddaughter wants to clean out the house and sell what they can. Raina finds Aggie’s diary which covers 50 years of her life starting in 1929. Raina and Angie have had to make tough choices. She wonders how Angie met Duncan, who wasn’t a good guy. She knows Duncan doesn’t truly love her…Raina wonders if maybe Angie thought he was good enough to give her a home, a life, and safety! He had money Thor (the other man in Aggie’s life) did not. Aggie came alive when she talked of Thor” In her diary. Which man would she choose?

Casper and Raina join forces to pursue the bonds. It was silly to think their search would amount to anything, but the adventure was fascinating. Raina couldn’t help but think Aggie’s and Thor Wilders adventure correlated with her own life. Casper felt the same way!

Casper’s dad, John Christiansen reminds him to keep the main thing the main thing. He sincerely looks at his son and says, “What does love do? Forgives. Comforts. Protects. Saves. Renews. Loves….Friends, look forward, your face to the wind, and live large in God’s love. Jesus says you are worth the search, worth his outrageous, unwavering love for you, despite the cost.”

Son, “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 everyday…if what we call love doesn’t take us beyond ourselves, require more of us than we ever dreamed; Then it’s not the unconditional, divine love God has for us. God’s love is not cautious, not wise, not sensible, and not remotely conservative. In fact loving another person the way God loves them is the greatest adventure we can have, the greatest treasure you can find.”

John’s words hit Casper hard, He doesn’t know how to deal with Raina and the dangerous man she is involved with. He thinks, ““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.” That’s what Darek told Casper to do. He remembers…”God tells us to be light…the thing about light is that it doesn’t come from us. It’s God in us that provides the light to the world. So if you want to be light to her, you’d better make sure the light is shining in you first.” Oh, he desperately needed God’s help. He couldn’t do this on his own.

I liked how this mystery unfolded through Aggie’s diary. It was intriguing to read where it took Casper and Raina as they dug through old newspapers and other historical documents for clues to the where a-bouts of the bonds. This novel tugged at my heart strings and  was hard to read in parts because of Raina’s decisions regarding her baby, how she gets mixed up with a bad guy and it was hard to see Casper’s heart break as he tries to get over his feelings for Raina

This would make a good book club pick because there is so much happening. The author also has wonderful discussion questions to keep the discussion lively. I can’t wait for the next book in this series. This novel ends on a cliff hanger about Amelia and her trip to Europe.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from The Book Club Network  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”.

Nora St Laurent
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