Friday, April 17, 2015
My Review: Together With You
I was first drawn to this book because I heard it was loosely based on The Sound of Music, my great-grandma's favorite film. While I did see a couple tie-ins, I more enjoyed it for it's own merits than the similarities.
Sometimes the most unexpected love can be exactly what a heart needs...
When a Lost Child warning blares over the mall's PA system, Carly Mason finds the little girl playing with a stuffed rabbit. Something about Penny Tremaine is different. An ex-social worker, Carly recognizes that the child suffers fetal alcohol effects, and a piece of Carly's past suddenly confronts her. Never again will she become personally involved with a client. The risks are far too great. But something about Penny--and Penny's handsome father--tugs at Carly's heart.
Dr. Ryan Tremaine is trying to put his life back together. With his ex-wife remarried and on a trip far away, his two teenage sons and Penny are living under his roof full time. Ryan has put his faith in his Sink-or-Swim list, a plan to reconnect with his children. The first step: recruit Carly Mason to be Penny's nanny.
Ryan never anticipated being so drawn to Carly, an attraction Carly seems to fight as much as he does. Could Carly be the missing piece that helps his family stay afloat, or will their blossoming romance only complicate things further?
Known for her realistic and engaging characters, Victoria Bylin delivers an emotion-packed story reminiscent of The Sound of Music, one that reminds us all to believe in the power of faith and love.
About the Author:
Victoria Bylin writes contemporary and historical romances acclaimed for their true-to-life characters and stories. Her work has finaled in contests such as the Carol Awards, the RITAs, and the Reviewers' Choice Award. A native of California, she and her husband now make their home in Lexington, Kentucky. Visit her website at www.victoriabylin.com to find out more.
My Review: 4 stars
I’d only read one of Victoria Bylin’s books (a Love Inspired Historical) when I requested this one, so I wasn‘t sure what to expect from a contemporary novel. I found that I really enjoyed it, though it did leave me with a few mixed emotions.
Victoria does an excellent job of bringing all of the characters to life and definitely made the Tremaines realistic. I was quickly engrossed in the story and didn’t want to put it down. I’m honestly not sure what drew me in so easily, other than her writing. The plot is a little unusual, with the care of one of the children, but otherwise, we all know how it’s going to end. Despite that, I found myself turning pages late at night, wanting to know what was going to happen next. She also does a wonderful job with the descriptions, using all of our senses at different times to paint a picture of the setting.
Carly Mason is an interesting heroine and I fell in love with her quickly. She is so sweet and kind with Penny, even though it’s hard at times, and she gives her heart away so easily - I almost wanted to warn her to protect it. She is definitely realistic though, with good days and bad days, failings and fears. Though she is a Christian and believes God has forgiven her for her mistakes, she is still tied to them by her inability to forgive herself. She has doubts and questions, she doesn’t like the pat answers people have given her - I loved that about her. It made her come alive for me, because she isn’t perfect. I also loved that she stood up for what she believed, even though her faith may not have been that strong at first.
Ryan Tremaine was a harder character for me to like, perhaps because he is so real. He isn’t like your typical Christian fiction hero - he has some pretty big failings. He has addictions he battles, failures that keep him chained, and doubts that try to bring him down. He isn’t much of a prize when we first meet him, though he’s trying so hard to be worthy. I think that’s where I started to like him - when we saw behind his façade to the hurting, angry, confused man he really is. He doesn’t know what to do anymore, though he wants so badly to be there for his kids. He wants to make up for past mistakes, even though he can’t. Despite his own beliefs, he still respected Carly’s - that’s where I fell in love with him. He put her first.
Now for the mixed emotions part. The romance was definitely realistic, to the point I became a little uncomfortable at times. Ryan, being an agnostic, writes the attraction off as “nature,” Carly just tries to avoid it and not become anymore involved than she already is. There are definitely sparks, some flirty comments, and Victoria shows them both struggling to control it. They have a very blunt conversation about premarital sex and where they both stand on the matter. That was a bit awkward for me, though I did appreciate seeing Carly stand her ground, despite the attraction between them. There are some thoughts they both have throughout that kind of touched that gray area of “possibly inappropriate,” for Christian fiction. On one hand, I have to applaud Ms. Bylin for staying the course and pushing me a bit out of my reading comfort zone. She wasn’t being raunchy or coarse, simply truthful. On the other hand, I wouldn’t recommend this book to someone who is very conservative.
I also appreciated the realism of the spiritual side. Carly’s faith drives her view of relationships and life in general, but she also has doubts and questions. I rather liked how the author handled them, giving them full impact and allowing me to feel them with Carly. My only negative comment here, is that Ryan’s “conversion” was rather abrupt. It’s kind of thrown into the ending as a way to remove the final obstacle in their relationship. I would have liked there to have been a bit more build up to it, though it would have drawn the story out more, I think it would have had more of an impact. As it is, it felt rather helter-skelter.
I found the epilogue a nice edition, as it rounds out the rather abrupt ending. It is a little longer than some and neatly pulls together any lingering loose ends, while also giving us a glimpse into the characters’ future.
Overall, I would say I enjoyed this book - it was a delightful way to spend a few hours - though I don’t imagine I’ll be reading it again.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher 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 any way. All opinions expressed are my own.
Thank you for once again taking the time to read my review! I'm sorry I haven't been posting much other than reviews, lately. My mind is just so crazy right now and I haven't taken the time to do anything else. I'm hoping to change that soon, once I get my priorities straightened out.
Anyway, thanks! If you'd like to check out the book further, here are some links to get you started!
Barnes & Noble