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TOGETHER WITH YOU by VICTORIA BYLIN REVIEWED


TOGETHER WITH YOU
By Victoria Bylin
Published by Bethany House
ISBN#978-0-7648-1153-9
331 Pages

Back Cover: 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?

REVIEW: This is an emotionally-charged story that had my gut wrench and heart hurt as Dr. Ryan Tremaine finds himself in a situation no parent wants to ever be in; hearing the PA scream there is a Code Adam and you see them lock the mall doors. The author masterfully invites readers into this characters’ family drama which reveals the good, the bad and the messy.

Ryan is trying to cope with the fact that the affair he had destroyed his family and created a precious little girl that suffered from FASD. Penny is five years old and on the outside looks perfect in every way; but on the inside she doesn’t see things, feel things or process anything like everyone else.

Carly Mason is a store manager of a toy store and goes through the required procedures of a Code Adam drill; when she spots Penny. The little girl is in the process of melting down when her father and two siblings find her. Carly recognized the signs of FASD and knew how to deal with the situation she starts to hum. Ryan hears her hum, “Amazing Grace! He didn’t believe in God, but he knew the words to the old hymn. His mother had been quietly faithful in the face of his father’s intellectual pride, and she’d taken Ryan to church until he was old enough to protest.” He watched as Penny relaxed. It worked to his surprise. Ryan then tries to hire Carly to be Penny’s nanny on the spot. He had been thru 4 nannies just that week. No one understood his little girl.

Carly prays about the situation and talks to her dad. Her heart goes out to this little one and feels she can help. She was a social worker who studied this syndrome in college and interned at a facility that helped girls like Penny.

Penny is still trying to figure out what the last nanny said to her when Carly shows up. The nanny had asked her to “make her bed.” Penny said to herself, “Make it do what?” Things like that happened all the time. She didn’t care about making her bed, whatever that meant, but she cared a lot about a place called heaven Aunt DeeDee said her mother was there.” And Penny wanted to see her mom.

Ryan is determined to be a better father than he’s been in the past. He’s made some big mistakes and is trying to make things right and pay for those sins. He wanted to have this be the best summer together ever. Dr. Ryan Tremaine is determined to complete a long list of goals he has for his family. He wants to make great memories and connect with this kids on a deeper level.

The bible states that they will know we are Christians by our love. Carly brings a love and understanding to Penny, Ryan and his two teen boys that has been missing. They feel united for the first time. I liked how the author shows how relationships take time effort and need to be intentional to work well.

“Ryan knew Carly was a Christian, but what exactly did that mean? Hands off until marriage? No one he knew lived that way, but he had to admit, there was a time for self-control…Ryan came from a world where adults chose their own moralities.”

Carly says to Ryan, “It’s just that you and I don’t see things the same way.”

“What things?”

She looks at him, “Almost everything!  ..they were back to the faith issue – her belief that human beings made mistakes and needed a savior and his belief that he controlled his own destiny. Carly wasn’t ready to talk to Ryan about Penny and how she was going to explain heaven to this little one without talking about her faith.

This author does a brilliant job of showing life from both perspectives without being preachy! Loved that! This is a gripping story of a man who is willing to fight for his family; who’s trying to learn from his mistakes and might even think about forgiving himself and others. Carly is determined to do the right thing in hard times; wanted to head home to her small town in Kentucky once she completed her education. She wanted to show the love of God to those she met; is ready forgive others but forgiving herself was more challenging.

This author doesn’t beat around the bush with tough topics like, FASD and how it’s preventable, people make mistakes but it doesn’t have to define them, pre-material sex, affairs, existence of God, death, forgiveness, love and the fact that relationships take time, effort and can’t be rushed. We are all a work in progress.

This story was captivating on so many levels. My heart ached for this family as they tried to put the pieces back together. They almost come unglued by a well-meaning Aunt DeeDee who is not a team player. This author shows the nitty-gritty of how life isn’t easy but also shows it’s important to keep the main thing the main thing. This is the first novel I’ve read by this author it won’t be the last. There are a few surprised for readers too! I highly recommend this novel for a great read and one that would be wonderful for a book club pick.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from The Book Club Network www.bookfun.org  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
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins! www.bookfun.org
The Book Club Network blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com

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