If it’s a new Susan May Warren novel, you can bet I’m going to get my hands on it somehow. She never fails to deliver a story that both encourages and entertains. Her latest, The Wonder of You, is the quality story I have come to expect from her– sweetly romantic, faith-driven, family-centered, adventurous, with a few moments that had me chuckling (specifically, a little story about a fort 🙂 ). Plus, this story is the most recent in her “Christiansen Family” series, and it focuses on the youngest sibling, Amelia.
Summary: Mortified after her year abroad is cut short, Amelia Christiansen returns to Deep Haven, certain she isn’t brave enough to embrace the adventures she’s dreamed of. The last thing she expects is for the man who broke her heart to cross the Atlantic and beg forgiveness.
Heir to a European hotel dynasty, Roark St. John has trekked from one exotic locale to another, haunted by tragedy and the expectations that accompany his last name. Amelia is the first woman to give him a reason to stop running. He’ll do anything for a second chance—even contend with Amelia’s old flame, who is intent on sending Roark packing.
While one surprise after another leaves Amelia reeling, Roark’s continued presence only highlights the questions pursuing her. Like him, is she running from the life God has called her to? Could finding her place mean leaving home behind?
My thoughts: Amelia is very easy to relate to, I think. She’s the baby sister of the family, wanting prove her independence and just a little intimidated with life at the same time. She wanted adventure and to see the world, but after a not-so-successful photography trip abroad (read: heartbreak), she’s back in her hometown trying to figure out where she belongs.
Clearly, Roark and Amelia draw strength from each other, and could depend on each other. It’s beautiful how he sees her, as herself with all her insecurities, and loves her just as she is. Together, they are stronger. But, with her long-time boyfriend Seth still in the picture, Amelia has to figure out her own heart. Seth is familiar and comfortable, while Roark is new and cultured. (While this was almost a love-triangle situation, it never felt unrealistic or predictable).
Roark is a complex character. He seems like the perfect guy from the outside, but carries the weight of guilt and mistakes, with a little bitterness toward God. He wants to start fresh and prove his love to Amelia, but lying to her about his identity is not the best choice. It was one of those “I want to throw your own book at you” type situations. But by the end, thankfully, no one was harmed by my book throwing.
I loved catching up with Grace (Amelia’s sister) and Max as a minor secondary story! He still doubts himself and it’s not good for their relationship. Max’s struggle is with choosing life–you can’t let fear control you because you can’t know what the future holds. I like how Susan revisited these characters and renewed some of the same struggles from their story in When I Fall In Love. They are just the sweetest couple. Their storyline really shows how doubt can be unrelenting and not so simple (or fairy-tale-like) in overcoming.
Both Amelia and Roark’s journeys in this story prove how God uses His love to draw us to Him – to trust in His plan, His strength, and His capabilities to redeem, guide, and bless us. I really loved how Susan used other characters to offer words of wisdom to Amelia and Roark at different times. This story continued the theme of grace woven into each character’s life, and illustrated the importance of obeying God’s calling whenever and wherever it may take you.
After this one, I am even more excited to see what’s next in the last book in this series, You’re the One That I Want, Owen’s story. But I will be very sad to say goodbye to this family I’ve come to “know”! Thank you for reading!