(I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.) And honestly? I loved it! Great story, characters I instantly fell in love with, and a plot rich with themes of real-life struggles, God’s redemption of messy situations (even the ones we’ve caused for ourselves) and accepting God’s forgiveness. Plus it features my beloved Lexington, Kentucky & the hymn I walked down to at my wedding (Be Thou My Vision) plays an important role in a wedding in the book too! 🙂
Carly Mason, a Kentucky girl escaping her mistakes by doing her graduate work in California, hears a “missing child” announcement over the PA system in the mall where she works and when she finds Penny she finds a family that needs her. Penny’s dad Ryan is struggling to help his children adjust to their new situation as a divorced family – and Penny is the reason for that divorce. Or, rather, the affair Ryan had with Penny’s mom who recently passed away. He has his sons for the summer, and Penny full-time (despite the best efforts of Penny’s aunt who wants Penny for herself) … and very little left of his sanity.
To complicate matters even further, Penny suffers from a mild form of FASD – fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Basically, when a woman is pregnant and drinks alcohol, so does her baby. According to the CDC.gov, babies/children with FASD are affected in different ways but probably have some form of abnormal facial features as well as other physical manifestations and they can exhibit difficulties in areas of behavior, learning, and reasoning/judgment. While in this story, Penny’s character does not show signs of the most severe form of FASD, her behavioral issues pose great challenges for her father and the nannies he tries to employ. Fortunately for Ryan Tremaine, God ushered in Carly Mason at just the right time – whether or not either of them acknowledged His assistance!
The first book I read of Ms. Bylin’s – Until I Found You – had me swooning from the romance. I even developed a book-boyfriend crush on Nick Sheridan, the hero in that book. I mean, seriously, this line: “Nick Sheridan had the posture of a soldier, the ease of a cowboy, and the daring of a pirate.” (Victoria Bylin, Until I Found You) Can you blame me??? Do I even have any readers left or have you all either a) rushed out to buy that book or b) melted into a dreamy puddle? In Together With You, the love story was more subtle, sorta crept up on me a little more slowly. Both books, however, feature honest, realistic looks at Christians (“veteran” and “newbie”) just trying to figure out how to live this whole Jesus life while dodging the speed bumps of life. No sugar coating, no “too good to be true” here. I felt right at home with these characters because I could see myself in them – making mistakes, losing my temper, wanting to just throw in the towel and give up. What keeps Ms. Bylin’s characters going is the same Strength that keeps me going – the redeeming grace of Jesus, the mercies that are new every morning, the faithfulness that is indeed great.
GIVEAWAY (now CLOSED to new entries): I am giving away my copy of Together With You. I read it of course but it is in excellent shape! Seems a shame for it to just sit on my shelf when one of you could be enjoying it 🙂 If you would like to win my copy of Together With You, please comment on this post by answering this question: Which (if any) of Victoria Bylin’s books have you read before? ALSO make sure to leave your email address so I know how to contact you. (Sorry! Giveaway only available to US and Canadian readers…)
Winner will be chosen via Random.org on Saturday April 18th, 2015 and notified by email. If I have not heard back from you within 1 week, I will choose another winner. Good luck! 🙂