Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best thought, by day or by night.
Waking or sleeping, Thy Presence my light.
Amelia Christiansen – baby of the family, epic photographer in the making – is fantastic at capturing the lives of others but lately her own life seems out of focus. Her grand adventure abroad cut short by heartbreak, she returned to Deep Haven resigned to the fact that she isn’t as brave as she thought she was. Her old flame, the boy she’s loved since middle school, wants to pick up where they left off before her trip to Europe; so she slips back into the comfortable, knowing that a happily-ever-after with Seth wouldn’t be that bad.
All of Deep Haven seems to accept that the two are back together… except for the newest barista at the local coffee shop. Roark St. John, heir to an European hotel dynasty, never really believed in love at first sight. At least, not until the day he met Amelia on a bridge in Prague. In her, he finds a reason to stop running – from his past, from the tragedies that haunt him, from the future he’s avoiding. A misunderstanding stole her away from him once; he’s traveled across the Atlantic to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Two men, both desperately in love with her. Two futures, each with their own appeal. With all the cards on the table, what will Amelia decide?
Susan May Warren is an outstanding author! The words flowed smoothly and the characters interacted quite naturally. Tension felt palpable when it needed to, and witty humor deflated some of the angst when appropriate. Books like this are truly a pleasure to read.
Roark was by far my favorite character – and not just for the obvious dreamy-sigh reasons. Although… a *dreamy sigh* or two would not be amiss. Flawed but sincere, he earnestly loved Amelia and was determined to win her back. (Whether this works out for him or not, I won’t say. You’ll have to read the book to find out!) He didn’t care if he made a fool of himself or gave up everything – he just wanted the chance to prove himself. Plus, you know, he has the British accent sooooo… Yeah.
I did not, however, care for Amelia’s actions much of the time. I liked Amelia – her personality, her quirks, her heart. But I felt she was pretty immature in the way she treated both Seth and Roark. She would tell one man that she loved him, then encourage the other almost the next day. Granted, she is only 20 and that’s something I had to keep reminding myself as I read through the book. However, I had to remind myself of that so often that, to me, it seemed more of a character flaw than merely an age issue.
I have to admit too that I was at a slight disadvantage to begin with as I have not read any of the other books in the Christiansen family series OR the Deep Haven series. I know, I know. And I call myself an avid reader? In the beginning, I was a little lost since apparently the previous book had ended with Amelia returning home and Roark coming after her (the first time) only to be run out of town by her over-protective brothers. This was referenced in discussions with her friends and eventually explained fully – so I felt less lost – but at first I was confused. (My own fault – I should have read the other books lol. I will correct this oversight at the next available opportunity!) Also, there is a lot of backstory to the other characters that is hinted at and would probably have been better understood had I read the other stories. Therefore I would recommend that, while this book can be read as a stand-alone, you should probably read the series from the beginning if you haven’t already.
The issues of trust and faith in spite of failure that Warren addresses through Amelia’s dilemmas and through Roark’s past rang clear to me. I thought she wrote these struggles with both grace and truth, and I especially identified with the hymn Be Thou My Vision that played an important role in Amelia’s healing. (I walked down the aisle to this particular hymn at our wedding, and it will always hold a special place in my heart.)
Finally, the part of the story involving the Christiansen family et. al. ends on a bit of a cliffhanger that I’m sure acts as a set-up for the next (and final) book due out in early 2016. If you like series set in small towns and/or series that follow a particular family, you will really enjoy the Christiansen family series. I myself am looking forward to going back and playing catch up now that I’ve fallen in love with all the characters – I want to know their stories!
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise
Thou my Inheritance, now and always!
Thou and Thou only first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my treasure Thou art.
Bottom Line: Even though I had some issues with Amelia (she’s only 20, Carrie! I know, I know.), I still give The Wonder of You 4 out of 5 stars because the writing and story-crafting is just that excellent.
(I received a copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for only my honest review.)
Susan May Warren is the bestselling, Christy and RITA award-winning novelist of over forty novels. A five-time Christy award finalist, a two-time RITA Finalist, she’s also a multi-winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice award, and the ACFW Carol Award. She spent eight years as a missionary in Russia with her husband and 4 children before returning to Minnesota’s north shore to write full-time.