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Heartwarming and Touching New Contemporary Romance from Victoria Bylin
After two broken engagements, nurse practitioner Mia Robinson is done with dating. From now on, she only trusts herself and God, and she's focused on her eighteen-year-old sister, Lucy, and caring for patients. Just as she applies to work for an international aid organization, a phone call from Lucy, who's pregnant and running off to marry her twenty-one-year-old boyfriend, throws a wrench into all of Mia's plans.
Jake Tanner may have recovered from the physical injuries he sustained on the job as a police officer, but his heart has yet to heal from losing his former partner in the tragedy. He's poured himself into starting a camp for the sons of fallen officers and mentoring Sam, the adult son of his deceased partner, who's asked him to be his best man at his wedding.
Mia is expecting a mess when she arrives to sort out the situation with Lucy, but she wasn't expecting Jake. And Jake, who can't help envying Sam and Lucy, doubts he'll ever experience their happiness for himself. But maybe Jake's courage and Mia's caring spirit are just what they need to bring them a lifetime of healing and a forever kind of love. . . .
|Publisher:||Baker Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)|
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Mia Robinson couldn't take her eyes off the man in a cowboy hat working a claw-machine game, the kind where a child — or a boyfriend or father — put in a dollar and tried to grab a toy in thirty seconds or less.
The machine was about fifteen feet from her in a coffee shop across from the Las Vegas hotel she had checked into late last night. The breakfast crowd was gone and the lunch crowd was just beginning to arrive on a Thursday that promised to swelter in the June heat.
The angle of her booth, a small one for just two people, gave her a clear view of the cowboy's profile. Tall and lean, dressed in Wrangler jeans and a black T-shirt that hugged his biceps, he worked the levers with the skill of a fighter pilot. His long legs ended in worn boots, a tan Stetson crowned his head, and dark scruff lined his jaw. His beard scruff matched the brown of the shaggy hair showing just below the hat. She guessed him to be in his early thirties, confident, and stubborn.
No one ever really grabbed the toy, did they? The thrill was in the chase, the gamble, the chance of beating the odds.
Mia settled back against the brown vinyl booth and stifled a yawn. As tired as she'd been after a full day of work and a late flight, she had tossed and turned while rehearsing what she planned to say to her sister. Technically Mia couldn't stop Lucy from marrying Sam Waters at the Happy Daze Wedding Chapel that afternoon. Lucy was almost nineteen and pregnant, but in Mia's opinion, getting married so young wouldn't solve the problem. It would only add another layer of difficulty.
Fighting another jaw-cracking yawn, she focused back on the man at the claw machine. With his hands loose on the controls, he swung the claw to the right and dropped the metal tongs into the pile of stuffed animals. To her amazement, he lifted out a white duck, swung it to the side, and deposited it in a metal chute. She expected him to take the toy to his table and give it to a child or girlfriend, or maybe just leave with it, but he put more money in the machine and went back to work.
Maybe he had two kids.
Glad for the distraction, she watched him work while she ate her omelet. Without missing a beat, he snagged an elephant, a giraffe, and a turtle. By the time she pushed her plate away, he had won several more toys. Mesmerized, she sipped a third cup of coffee while he liberated a brown hen with a floppy red comb.
Mr. Claw Machine didn't miss a single time. How many hours had he practiced? Probably thousands. Some men never grew up, and apparently he was one of them.
Mia's phone vibrated with a message. Hoping it was Lucy, she rummaged through the gum wrappers and receipts in her sack of a purse until her fingers curled around her phone. When she swiped the screen, instead of Lucy's smiling face, she saw the professional logo for Women's Health Associates, the medical office where she worked as a nurse practitioner.
The text read Ann B in L&D.
L&D stood for Labor and Delivery, and Ann B — they never used last names because of HIPAA privacy laws — was one of Mia's patients. Mia didn't deliver babies. Not yet. That fell to Dr. Karen Moore. But Mia was interested in midwifery and had planned to be present for the potentially complicated delivery.
Sighing, she texted back, Wish I could be there. Am out of town.
"I will not resent Lucy," Mia murmured as she put the phone back with the gum wrappers. She loved her sister fiercely, and sometimes love required sacrifice. But she had to admit to being disappointed.
Sighing, she glanced at her watch. Three hours until the wedding.
Rather than pace in her room, she signaled the waitress for more coffee and settled her eyes on Mr. Claw Machine as he scooped the stuffed animals off the bench.
When he made a clicking sound with his tongue, a big dog with golden fur lumbered to its feet and gave a shake to straighten the red vest it wore, displaying the words Service Dog. A row of skulls-and-crossbones lined the hem, but whatever diabolical message the skulls implied was negated by the fact that the bones were shaped like dog biscuits.
Mr. Claw Machine had a sense of humor. Great shoulders too. And arms long enough to cradle an entire menagerie of stuffed animals. When he turned, his light-colored eyes met her gaze across the aisle. She told herself to look away, but the toys in his arms tugged a smile out of her. His mouth formed a smile in return, his lips a soft contrast to the bony contours of his high cheekbones and straight nose, both ruddy from hours in the sun.
Arms bulging with toys, Mr. Claw Machine strode with his dog to the back of the coffee shop. Too curious to be polite, Mia craned her neck and watched as he went from table to table, giving toys to children and chatting with their parents.
He didn't allow anyone to pet the dog, but at his command, the dog sat and offered handshakes.
He was headed her way with three toys and two tables between them. At a booth with a mom and a little girl, he gave the child a pink elephant. Next he handed a giraffe to an elderly woman seated with her husband. With one animal left, he looked Mia full in the face.
What she saw stole her breath far more than his good looks.
Behind the tan and the laugh lines, his expression betrayed a weariness that made him seem older than she had guessed him to be. She knew that look well. People wore it in the days after major surgery, when they were in pain and muddled with anesthesia, making jokes and insisting they were fine when they weren't fine at all.
Their gazes danced in the way of curious strangers, a man and a woman who noticed each other and felt the mysterious searching of a human heart. Dishes clattered. A child laughed.
Another one cried. Life exploded all around them in colors and sounds as ordinary and spectacular as a sunset.
Look away, Mia told herself. She unconsciously covered her bare ring finger. She'd been hurt enough by two broken engagements, one years ago in college and the other recent and still painful to the touch. No way would she risk her heart only to be dumped again.
She had prayed long and hard after the last breakup. Without a husband or children, she was free to go wherever God called her. It was time to make a change, so last week she had applied for a job with Mission Medical, an international aid organization that provided medical care in Third World countries.
If she beat out the stiff competition, she'd be based in Dallas but would travel the world, working to set up clinics for women and children. She'd be out of the country for six months at a time, maybe longer.
But what did she do about Lucy and the unplanned pregnancy? Her sweet, head-in-the-clouds sister needed her too.
Mr. Claw Machine approached Mia's table. "Good morning."
He held out the last stuffed animal. "This one must be for you."
The brown hen. It figured. With her thirtieth birthday on the horizon, Mia felt like a carton of eggs with a best-by date that was still reasonable but a lot closer than the dates on all the other cartons. Anyone who checked the dates left the old carton and picked up a newer one. That was what Brad had done when he dumped her last month for that MRI tech.
She didn't think her life ended at the age of thirty. Far from it. Professionally, she was just getting started. But personally, she was worried. If she wanted to get married and have children, now was the time. Some women had no problem conceiving as late as their mid-forties, but others did. Hormone treatments and IVF worked sometimes, but not always. Working for an OB-GYN, Mia saw the struggle more often than most people, and she was acutely aware of the risks — even a little paranoid, maybe.
The fat hen dangled in front of her face, its stick-on eyes going in two directions, the red comb flopping, and the orange beak as crooked as a beckoning finger. Mia's gaze rose to the man's face. The pain she'd glimpsed earlier was gone now, or at least buried behind a self-deprecating smile.
"Thank you." She took the gift from his hand. "I've always wanted a brown hen."
His brows collided. "Really?"
"No." She laughed. "But this one is charming."
Instead of moving on, he studied her face as if he recognized her. That happened occasionally. Patients came and went in the big hospital where she had worked before joining Women's Health Associates. But Denver was seven hundred miles away, and she was certain she'd never seen this man before. She would have remembered his eyes. They were the color of a grassy meadow on a spring day, fringed with dark lashes, and as piercing as needles pricking skin.
Some people looked away as the needle did its job. Others watched with calm intensity. Mia was a watcher.
So was Mr. Claw Machine, it seemed, until he focused on the dog at his feet. "Pirate."
The dog locked eyes with him.
"Say hi to the lady."
Pirate raised a paw and gave her a slobbery smile.
Mia gripped the dog's paw. "It's nice to meet you, Pirate."
The dog looked so intelligent that she half expected him to answer back in full sentences. "I wish I had some bacon for you."
"So does Pirate," the man replied. "But he's working right now."
"I see the vest." Mr. Claw Machine had brought up the dog, so Mia felt comfortable asking questions. "What breed is he?" "Mostly golden retriever, maybe some shepherd. Strays often make the best hearing dogs."
Her eyes flicked to the side of Mr. Claw Machine's head. Now that she was looking, she could see a small in-ear device. The way he had studied her face earlier took on new significance.
He didn't seem to be reading her lips, but she imagined it helped to watch people form words.
Behind him, an elderly woman was coming down the aisle with a walker. Pirate nudged him, and he turned. When he spotted the woman, he started to say good-bye to Mia. At the same moment, a waitress arrived with an armload of plates for the family seated across the aisle. Another family bailed out of the corner booth and crowded the aisle even more.
"Look, Mommy! A dog!"
A little girl charged toward Pirate. Her mom clasped a firm hand on her shoulder, but the woman with the walker kept coming, and the waitress played musical plates with meals for three kids. The aisle was completely blocked.
"Excuse me!" The woman with the walker squeezed closer to the tables. "Excuse me, please!" Judging by the pinched look on her face, she was headed to the bathroom and in a hurry — the kind that led to a person falling.
With nowhere to go, Mr. Claw Machine indicated the empty seat across from Mia. "May I? Just until the crowd clears."
He signaled Pirate to slip under the table. As the dog squeezed against her feet, the man folded his lean body into the booth. It was too small for his long legs and wide shoulders. Too small for all three of them, but especially too small for Pirate, who hit the table with his head, tilted it, and sent the contents of Mia's water glass straight into her lap.
Jake Tanner hadn't planned to say more than a few words to the woman seated across from him. He certainly hadn't planned to sit down with her. As for the spilled water, that was what happened when Pirate decided it was time to climb into Jake's lap.
It wasn't a casual decision on the dog's part. He'd been trained to be Jake's hearing dog, but their bond went deeper. If Jake seemed nervous or on edge, Pirate stuck to him like glue. Women didn't make Jake nervous in the least, but apparently this one set off that inner twang, because Pirate was poking Jake in the belly with his nose.
While reassuring Pirate with a word and a scratch, Jake looked sheepishly at the woman. "Sorry about that."
"No harm done." She blotted her lap with a napkin. "It's just water, and there wasn't much of it."
"It's no problem at all." Her tone told him she meant it. "I'm a nurse. Water is nothing compared to the stuff I've dealt with."
Jake believed her. Thanks to the bomb blast that ended his career with the Denver Police Department, he had spent more time in hospitals than he cared to remember.
When Nurse Girl tipped her head, the motion reminded him of the sparrows that perched on the deck of his parents' home an hour west of Colorado Springs. Her hair, medium brown with blond highlights, also brought to mind those ordinary birds, which up close weren't ordinary at all.
Her blue eyes were riveted to his, studying him, waiting for him to say something.
Recovering, he asked an easy question. "Where are you from?"
"Small world. I used to live there."
Her eyes lit up. "That's a coincidence. Then again, it's a big city. Did you move from there to here?" She fluttered her hand to indicate Las Vegas.
"No. I still live in Colorado. Echo Falls, to be precise."
"I've heard of it. It's a tourist town, isn't it?"
"What do you do?" she asked politely.
Three years ago he would have told her he was a police officer.
Two years ago he would have said he used to be a police officer.
Now he skipped the glory days. "My dad owns a vending-machine business. I help him run it."
She stroked the hen perched on the seat next to her. "That explains why you're so good at the claw machine. You've been practicing."
"All my life. My dad has a barn full of old games."
Hotels and bowling alleys no longer wanted Pac-Man, Donkey
Kong, and old-style pinball, but they were perfect for the camp Jake wanted to start for kids who had lost a parent in the line of duty. Kids like Sam Waters, the son of Jake's partner, Connie Waters, who had been killed in the bomb blast that left Jake partially deaf. Starting the camp meant everything to him. Unfortunately, a local opposition group called Stop the Camp, or STC for short, was battling tooth and nail to stop him.
Pirate pressed against Jake's knee. The aisle was clear now, and if he was going to get a haircut before the wedding, he needed to leave. He wouldn't have chosen a hasty marriage for Sam or any young couple, but he was certain that under the circumstances, Connie would have supported her son's decision to take responsibility and marry Lucy Robinson.
Taking responsibility was Connie's strength, and Jake had admired her for it, though the commitment she demanded from him would haunt him forever. Lying prone with her head in a puddle of blood, smoke thick in the ringing silence, she had mouthed, Help Sam.
Deafened by the explosion, Jake had spoken a reply he couldn't hear. I will, Connie. I promise.
She had died minutes later, and Jake and Sam had become a family born of that promise. Sam, eighteen at the time, had returned to college and his ROTC scholarship. Without other family, he called and texted Jake a lot. They were brothers, friends, and a little bit father and son.
Nurse Girl didn't seem to be in a hurry, so Jake risked a question.
"What brings you to Vegas?"
"Me too." Not surprising. Weddings were a dime a dozen in Las Vegas.
"Weddings aren't my favorite thing." She placed her napkin on the table, revealing her bare ring finger as she let out a sigh. "I especially don't like weddings that are spur-of-the-moment. The one I'm going to today ..." She shook her head. "I'm worried sick."
"My sister's a little crazy."
"Or in love."
"Or both." Her mouth settled into a worried line. "She's a wonderful person, but I'm afraid she's being impulsive. She has a tendency to act first and think later."
"What about the guy?"
"I haven't met him, but so far I'm not impressed. A quickie Vegas wedding isn't the way to start a life together."
Jake thought of last night's dinner with Sam and Lucy. Sam was only twenty-one, but he'd grown up fast when his mother died, and his faith had grown too. Jake was determined to support the young couple a thousand percent. Too bad Nurse Girl didn't have that same peace of mind.
"Maybe it'll work out," he said.
"I hope so."
He heard what she didn't say. "But?"
"But I doubt it." She rolled her eyes in a cute way that seemed to make fun of herself. "Sorry for the gloom and doom. I'm not usually a pessimist."
Neither was Jake. "You're worried."
"Yes." Nurse Girl sipped her coffee. When she looked at him, her blue eyes were calm again. "Who's getting married in your life?"
"A friend." That was the easiest way to explain his relationship with Sam. "I'm the best man. It's a happy day for them."
"I wish them all the best." Envy whispered in her voice, but he didn't hear even a trace of bitterness. She glanced at her watch, a practical style she probably wore on the job. "I need to leave."
Excerpted from "The Two of Us"
Copyright © 2017 Vicki Bylin Scheibel.
Excerpted by permission of Baker Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I received a copy of The Two of Us by Victoria Bylin from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for a review. The Two of Us follows a modern, female centric story revolving around faith. While at times almost cliché, it does have a heart. Mia proves an admirable protagonist who struggles with finding direction in her life and trusting God to provide what she wants after she’s been burned a couple times. Yet, despite these troubles, she does hold to her faith as she honestly shares her disappointments, fears and doubts with God. She also stands on her faith and values even when doing so means losing a person or situation she wants. Specifically with sex outside marriage, this book shows multiple angles on how people struggle to uphold their value or who do fall but get back on track with grace. Mia and her sister Lucy show this balance in their lives; Mia starts off the story with a broken heart after her engagement breaks due to her standing her ground to maintain her virginity, and Mia’s younger sister Lucy starts out getting married because she got pregnant due to not waiting for marriage. Over the course of the story, the sisters support each other as each struggles to trust God for his provision and guidance as they choose careers and develop relationships. I enjoyed this story that somehow felt lighthearted even though it held some weight in its content. I appreciated the characters and their authenticity in not only their struggles but their trust and hope to overcome them with faith and trust. The situations were realistic and relatable, making it easy to apply the sisters’ lessons to my own life, whether relating to choosing my next steps for career like Mia or trusting God to guide me in another area of my life. I liked that Bylin wrote imperfect characters who stood rooted in their faith, authentically shared their doubts and who gracefully failed yet continued on their paths.
This sweet novel combines deep faith in God, second chances, and family ties. Mia Robinson, an independent woman with a mission to work with an International aid organization receives a disconcerting phone call from her pregnant niece who is planning on eloping. Mia's life direction changes and she moves to a small town to give support and hopefully wisdom to her cherished relative, Lucy. Lucy is madly in love with Sam, a son of a fallen officer being mentored by Jake Tanner, a former policeman. Mia has been burned by love too many times to consider romance in any shape and Jake figures life will be good if he can make a difference in young men's lives. Lucy and Sam, at times seem more mature than Mia and Jake but they all have life lessons to learn. God opens doors they do not see and closes doors they think they want just like so many of us. I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and was under no obligation to post anything but my honest review which I have done.
I am so glad I held off reading The Two of Us by Victoria Bylin til the Christmas season, because this one is just so good, I didn't want to rush it and take my time enjoying the relationship that is played out between Mia Robinson and Jake Tanner. The two meet in Las Vegas where they are best man and maid of honor to their siblings without realizing it. They meet in a small cafe, where Jake wins a stuffed Hen that he gives to Mia. This is their meet-cute! They won't discover how closely they are about to be related until the day of the wedding in just a few hours. Mia has vented a bit to Jake, that her sister Lucy is making a bad decision in getting married so quickly just because she is pregnant. When they meet up again at the Vegas wedding chapel, Lucy has started spotting and fears she is going to lose the baby. Mia thinks this might not be such a bad thing, since it was what initiated such a quick marriage to begin with, but puts aside her own personal feelings and takes over with her nurse training and manages to get Lucy to a hospital where she learns that baby is safe for the moment, but Lucy will be on strict rest until the doctor feels the baby is well enough that she can go back to normal life again. This doesn't sit well for Lucy who wants her marriage and honeymoon to Sam to be picture perfect, but Sam is more than willing to wait. Mia is planning on leaving soon to head off on a Missions trip where she will take her medical training and help children in third world countries, but insists that she will stay and help Lucy until that happens. Jake insists on Sam and Lucy moving to the Tanner ranch where there is plenty of help and support to help not only Lucy, but Jake's mother Claire who is in the early stages of Alzheimer's. This also gives Jake and Mia time to explore their own feelings for one another even though they agree remaining friends is the best thing knowing where they both envision a future for themselves. But does God have other plans? Find out by picking up this wonderful heart-warming romance! I received The Two of Us by Victoria Bylin, compliments of Baker Publishing Group and Net Galley and easily give this one a 5 out of 5 stars in my opinion.
Have you ever read a book you really liked but somehow just didn’t bond to? I mean the book is so well written with amazingly complex characters and a plot that keeps you engaged. A book that you couldn’t put down it was just that good. But you don’t bond with it. Perhaps I’m just romanced out. Time to switch up the genres again or something. This book was amazingly well written. Even the secondary characters had depth and complexity. There were multiple lines of plot and love stories and couples and it all worked and danced together so brilliantly. But I just didn’t bond with it all. This story is about so much more than just Mia and Jake. It really starts with Lucy and Sam. Lucy is Mia’s baby sister that she raised through the hard years, who is happiness and light and spontaneity with directly juxtaposes Mia’s careful planning and calculating. Lucy who finds herself pregnant at not quite 19 and marrying the love of her life. It starts with Sam, the son of Jake’s former partner on the police force who died on duty in the same debacle that cost Jake his hearing. Sam, with a full ROTC scholarship to college, at 21 finds himself facing impending fatherhood as he marries the love of his life. This story is about Jake’s parents Frank and Claire who have been married for decades, who have faced the hardships of a lifetime together and came out the other side. And now they face the biggest test of all. Alzheimer’s. Who with a little help from Lucy find the strength and patience to carry on. I really really liked this story. It’s a new to me author and I am glad I chose this book and I’m ready to pick up another book. If you like depth to your romance. If you love stories of faith, and mistakes, and redemption this is the book for you. Yes, Lucy gets pregnant before they get married. If that bothers you then perhaps this isn’t the book for you. If you are a human being who has made mistakes but are forgiven by God then read on. It might be a simple romance where boy meets girl and they go through all the hoops to find each other but there’s so much more than that to this book. Read it! I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by NetGalley. I was not compensated for this review and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.
A contemporary romance full of emotions and faith, Victoria Bylin’s The Two of Us is just excellent. As soon as I started reading it, I flew through the pages—it had me hooked and I couldn’t help falling for the characters. They drive the story with their longings and hurts, dreams and decisions, and I loved it. The romance develops well and with perfect chemistry, the challenges that arise feel realistic, and the emotions and faith through it all have great depth. The Two of Us is a pleasure to read, a good choice for any contemporary readers in need of another good book—I recommend it. Thanks to Bethany House, I received a complimentary copy of The Two of Us and the opportunity to provide an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all the opinions I have expressed are my own.
The Two of Us is the best book I have read yet by Victoria Bylin and that is saying a lot because they have all been great reads. What I always appreciate from her books are her realistic and relatable characters. Very early on, readers fall in love with Mia and Jake and root for them until the end. They are introduced under circumstances neither of them planned on and both have to move beyond their own pain from the past. Both of them have dreams that revolve around helping others, but their dreams are taking them in different directions. The story keeps your interest as you watch these two people try to figure out how they can live out their dreams and make this relationship work at the same time. In several reviews, I saw readers compliment the way Ms. Bylin handles the topic of Alzheimers. Jake's mother has Alzheimers and as someone who has watched her own mother-in-law battle this horrendous disease, I believe Victoria Bylin handles the whole topic with dignity and respect. I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
The Two of Us by Victoria Bylin was a read that really felt so true to life. I felt the emotions the characters were feeling, in their mess ups, confusion, love, and difficult life choices. This story started out simply enough: big sister (Mia) is concerned her little sister (Lucy) is making a mistake by getting married so young, even if she is expecting the groom’s baby. Mia has always taken care of Lucy. Mia had to grow up too quickly with the loss of her mother and after two broken engagements she is having trouble finding purpose. Then Mia meets Jake Tanner who is determined to show her that she is worthy and that it is not too late to start over. That is just what Mia has planned, but she is actually trying to land what she believes is her dream job that would take her very far away from those she loves. This book really got my heart and would not let go. I felt for Mia who was unsure of herself and her own decision making. She had been on her own for a long time and I could understand that she thought her dream of a marriage and children of her own were unattainable. Jake is the perfect guy for her. Wounded physically but very protective, and his willingness to not let her go easily had me cheering in his corner. Author Bylin touches on some other difficult subjects as well. We get to see Lucy and her new husband Sam trying to navigate newly married life with a baby on the way. Jake’s parents are going through a heartbreaking health situation but his father is the epitome of how a man should love his wife. There were times I just wanted to sit down and cry for these characters. I really enjoyed this true to life story and especially watching the love story of Jake and Mia unfold. I received a copy of this book for free. I was not required to post a positive review and all views and opinions are my own.
Sometimes I pick up a book because it looks sweet and simple. I imagine the outcome and am there to enjoy the predictable ride. Then came "The Two of Us." Of course, Mia and Jake will be thrown into each other's life, but that is as far as the "predictable ride" goes! Victoria Bylin weaves a sincere story of two adults who have their own fears, shortcomings, and passions. Nothing felt fake or rushed and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know these characters and I even cried at part. Thank you, Victoria Bylin, for writing a wonderful tale that swept me in and has me wanting more! I received a copy of "The Two of Us" from Bethany House Publishing for my honest and fair review.
This is only the third book I’ve read from Victoria Bylin and they seem to just get better and better! I believe this one may be my favorite, yet! I do have to say, that the cover is what first drew me to this story! It’s perfect for the tale it contains and it just makes me smile to look at it. I’m often told not to judge a book by it’s cover, but in this case, I think that’s totally acceptable! It’s been a bit since I’ve read any of Ms. Bylin’s books and I’m sorry it’s taken me this long to pick up another one. I so enjoyed her writing style and just fell in love with Echo Falls and these characters! I loved her details and descriptions, how she brings the story to life with such vivid word images and inspires my imagination. I also so enjoyed the words of wisdom woven throughout the story. This story tackles some difficult topics, such as PTSD and Alzheimer’s, and along with just every day decisions and how to make a new marriage work. I so appreciated how Ms. Bylin handled these things with grace and finesse. I saved several quotes that seemed as though the author was speaking directly to me, through the characters and their situations. I have to say that the characters were undoubtedly my favorite part of this story! I just adored Mia and Jake, as well as Lucy and Sam. I wasn’t expecting the journey they went on and to so easily relate to their struggles and doubts. Mia has made a commitment and she’s determined that God doesn’t change His mind and neither should she. So when things in her life suddenly begin changing, she’s thrown, unsure what her next step should be, what she should do next. I enjoyed following her as she searched for God’s plan for her life and did her best to prepare for what that plan might entail. Jake is also faced with difficult decisions, as well as trying to heal from the past. He’s strong and stubborn, willing to sacrifice anything for those he loves and incredibly supportive of their decisions. I loved his relationship with Sam and Lucy, offering a bit of advice and mostly just a shoulder to lean on as they figure out marriage and how their life together is going to work out. And the romance! Definitely worth a few sighs and the occasional frustrated huff as the characters walked the uncertain path toward “happily ever after” and took a couple side trips along the way. I do confess to getting a mite impatient with them a time or two, but looking back, I found even the uncertain moments, the frustrated ones, to be incredibly realistic. If the story had moved any fasted, it would’ve seemed unrealistic and that might have taken away from the journey this story took me on. So I really can’t complain. Overall, this book is something of a light romance, but intertwined with real life. Messy, unpredictable, sometimes difficult, sometimes blissful, life. And I would highly recommend it! *My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book! 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.
I have read and enjoyed other books by Victoria Bylin. This one was good as well. I was entertained and kept engaged, wanting to see how it all ended. I really liked the cover, even though I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover. Things I didn’t care for: There was a lot going on in this book. I think she went a little too deep with too many characters. My preference is for an author to stick to the two main characters for the bulk of the story. I feel it’s less confusing and you can see more depth and get to know those characters well. I was also a little frustrated with the decision making process of the heroine. But these are just personal preferences. I think this book is definitely worth reading. It is a good contemporary Christian romance. I would give it a four out of five stars. Bethany House provided me with a copy of this book for an honest review.
The Two of Us is a tender and touching tale! From family dynamics to Alzheimer’s care, Victoria Bylin deftly portrays her characters and their emotions. I delighted in Mia’s and Jake’s journey, as well as the secondary story between Sam and Lucy. Hope-filled and heartfelt, I thoroughly enjoyed The Two of Us! I received a complimentary copy of this book. No review was required, and all thoughts expressed are my own.
I loved this wonderfully written romance. This has two stories. There are Mia and Jake and Sam and Lucy. All four people learn to trust in God and each other. Sam and Lucy will have many obstacles to get through in there life having started out so young in their lives. Mia and Jake were my favorite couple in the book. They go through many obstacles to get together. I received a copy of this book from the author for a fair and honest opinion that I gave of my own free will.
Esperaba mucho de este libro, pero la verdad es que me llevé una decepción. En ocasiones las situaciones y los diálogos eran superficiales, y el romance entre los personajes no los sentí real; al contrario. Fue muy forzado. Lo que sí me gustó fue como la autora trató el tema del Alzheimer, un problema muy real entre las familias.
Oh, what a beautiful story—so much depth. It contains characters that are easy to sympathize with, intricate workings of faith, and that unspeakable kind of love that makes a story extra-special. I can easily relate to the main character, Mia. I experienced many of the same things in my youth—losing my mother of cancer and raising my sister who’s 10 years younger than me. Because of this, I sunk deep into her shoes and understood her doubts, fears, and responsibilities. But there is an entire cast of fabulous characters in this story and I grew to love each and every one (even one who was difficult to love.) The story expresses love of family, that special love between lovers, and the love of God. It’s even more than a love story though. It deals with disabilities, Alzheimer’s, therapy dogs, community, and following the plan that God has for us. The Two of Us is soul piercing, heart stirring, and deeply satisfying. I didn’t want this story to end. I. Love. This. Book. One of my favorite reads this year! Ms. Bylin is a great storyteller and now on my must-read list. 5 Stars Cover: Love Title: Love Publisher: Bethany House Pages: 352 Pace: Steady/Fast First Line: Mia Robinson couldn’t take her eyes off the man in a cowboy hat working a claw-machine game, the kind where a child—or a boyfriend or father—put in a dollar and tried to grab a toy in thirty seconds or less. I received a complimentary copy from the publisher and NetGalley.
I have loved everything I've read by Victoria Bylin, so suffice it to say, I loved this book. Three different views of marriage are shown in the story through the relationships of three very different couples. Mia has given up on ever finding true love and has shifted her passion toward a certain career, but then she meets Jake. Her sister, Lucy, is about to marry Sam, but aren't they too young? What about the fairy tale marriage of Jake's parents? Victoria Bylin has written a novel with real characters dealing with real issues. How does one make the best decisions and make sure he is on the right path in life? One of my favorite parts of the book was the author's treatment of a character with Alzheimer's. Bylin's personal experience in dealing with a family member who has this disease shows through in the character and the heart-breaking reality that this disease brings to a family. I received a copy of this book from the publisher for honest review.
“… Trust means something different to me now. It’s not about avoiding the hard times. It’s about going through them with God’s grace and help of other people.” – Mia Robinson The quote above pretty much sums up Victoria Bylin’s latest novel “The Two of Us”. The story is about three couples (at different stages of life) loving each other unconditionally while going through hardships. Mia Robinson and Jake Tanner are a couple in their thirties juggling their passion for their careers and their budding relationship, Frank and Claire are an older married couple facing Alzheimers head on and Sam and Lucy are a young pair who wed after an unexpected pregnancy. Author Bylin doesn’t sugarcoat real life one bit as she guides us through their individual journeys. Keep your tissues handy as you read 342 pages exposing reality and people in their most vulnerable moments. The moral of the story seems to be trusting God throughout all of life’s circumstances no matter the outcome. There is a happy ending to look forward to, but it does come at a price. I recommend this book to non-fiction lovers looking for a good read. *BTSCelebs thanks Bethany House for the complimentary copy of the book.*
“We’re not perfect, but we’re committed to making this marriage last a lifetime. With God in the middle, I believe we can do it.” The Two of Us is a contemporary romance written by Victoria Bylin. It is the story of a woman named Mia who has had her heart broken twice after two engagements were broken off. She has sworn off men and decided to put her focus on the Lord and serving abroad as a nurse practitioner. Mia travels to Las Vegas in hopes of talking her 18 year old, pregnant sister out of marrying Sam, the father of her child and the love of her young life. While in town during her sister’s wedding Mia meets Jake, a prior police officer who has served as a father figure for his partner’s son after she died on the job. I was expecting to enjoy this story after reading the synopsis but I had no idea how strongly or how quickly I would fall in love with this story, its characters, and Bylin’s writing. I started this book on a Sunday morning and was immediately unable to put it down. Before I knew it it was Sunday night and I had finished the book. Everything about this book warmed my heart and captured my soul. The characters were extremely relatable. Lucy and Sam are two young kids who are head over heels in love and are determined to make a live for themselves and know that they can make it work with God on their side. Sam is 21 and on an ROTC scholarship and ready to serve as an officer in the Army. Although these two characters story was a background to Mia and Jake’s it reminded me so much of my own and allowed me to connect on a deeply personal level with these two. Even though Jake and Mia are a few years older than I and their stories were unrelatable to myself the characters themselves were easy to understand and to connect to. They are both individuals who are determined to serve God and trying to honor him through their work and their goals. Mia was 20 when her mother died and she began raising 10 year old Lucy. Jake was injured in an explosion that killed his partner and began looking after he son. Their stories are so similar and that along with their faith, and their desire of having something more lead them straight into each others arms. I was on the verge of tears when this book ended because I was just simply not ready to let the characters go. During this amazing story we are also meet Jake's amazing parent's Frank and Claire. Claire is suffering through early on set Alzheimers and Frank is the perfect husband who works tirelessly and sacrifices as much as he possibly can in order to give her a normal life. Everyone in this story looks up to this couple as an example on how to love and on the marriage that they one day hope to achieve. Watching Claire decline in this book and the way she struggles is absolutely heartbreaking and you feel the hurt in your soul when she has setbacks and when issues arise. I without a doubt give this book 5 out of 5 stars and will be purchasing a lot if not all of Victoria Bylin’s books after this move. If you are looking for a book about romance, faith, or family then I highly recommend this book. I can almost guarantee you will fall in love with it just like I did. You can read an excerpt of the book here: http://cdn.bakerpublishinggroup.com/processed/book-resources/files/Excerpt_9780764217388.pdf?1495557892 And check out the author’s page here: http://www.victoriabylin.com *I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for a review. *
Victoria Bylin knows how to create endearing, layered, and memorable characters. I was immediately drawn into Jake and Mia’s story but was also captivated by the side stories of Lucy and Sam, and Claire and Frank. Though these three couples’ lives were intertwined in the book, there were things I learned from each of them—courage, empathy, forgiveness, and hope. The messages of trust and faith woven throughout inspired me greatly. I loved the idea that sometimes God has even better plans for us than we can imagine. I would recommend this to those who enjoy inspirational Christian fiction. I’m looking forward to more books by this author. I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from the author and publisher. All opinions are my own.
It took me several days of starting and putting it down before I was able to focus entirely on the story. Mia Robinson has a goal and that is to work for Mission Medical. A broken engagement guided her towards this path, but first she needed to prove that she was fit for the job. The story starts off with her in Las Vegas for her sister's wedding, and there she meets Jake. There is an opportunity to work for a small town clinic knowing that in six months she may be moving to Dallas for the full time job. Jake, of course, loves it that she is moving to his small community. As I started off this blog, I wasn't really sure about this book, especially within the first few chapters. I didn't know Mia and didn't really get a good grasp of who she was and whether or not I liked her. It took awhile and then before I knew it I wanted to finish the book and get it done. There were some teary moments towards the back half of the book and I always appreciate a good epilogue at the end of the story. Another thing it took me awhile to get used to was the amount of time that was passing by with the characters. Mia's sister is pregnant, not many weeks along when we are first introduced. So we get to go thru the entire pregnancy to the end all within this book. As for the storyline with Lucy, I'm not really sure why it was there. The story was about Mia but yet we were introduced to Lucy and her fears and hope for the future. Maybe it was a way to introduce how one feels when they get married especially with a baby along the way. But I almost think those pages would have been better suited directing me to get to know Mia more. I did enjoy the interview process that Mia had to go through with the vetting of her personality. Especially the questions at the end of the process. Every book and author has a faithful following. They write their words in a musical way that captivates their own audience. For me, I didn't get the rhythm I needed to absolutely fall in love with the book. I enjoyed it and the drama that ensued within the pages, but it's unlikely that I would keep the book for a place on the bookshelf. This review contains my own thoughts and opinions. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.
The Two of Us is a lovely story of family, humanness and frailty, love, dreams and the pursuit of those dreams. You have Mia who has been burnt real bad in love so she has closed herself off to all men or did she? Then you have Jake who is a former detective who has poured himself into helping other people, which also aligns up with what Mia wants to do with her life but in the Mission field - he wants to help kids of fallen police officers. Will her dream be ruined by her sister? or even better by Jake? will his dream dome true? Will she listen to what GOD is speaking to her heart? I received a copy of this book from the Publisher and Netgalley; all the opinions expressed in this review are all my own
As I began reading this book, I was invited to spend some quality time in Echo Falls, Colorado with three couples that I will not soon forget. The couples came together as an extended family. They were bound by blood, marriage and choice. The characters had great depth and I so enjoyed reading about them as they lived their lives and made many choices. The book was filled with dreams and surprises, disappointments and joys. Sam and Lucy were the youngest couple. Together, they faced an unplanned pregnancy as they began their married life together. They faced many challenges and still chose to honor their commitment to each other. Frank and Claire were the oldest couple and had weathered some storms together. They honored their vows, especially, in sickness and in health. Jake and Mia had each chased a good dream and gave it up for something better. Two imperfect people who were better together than alone. Such a satisfying and well written book! All of the main characters learned that love is a choice. I encourage you to choose and read this book. I received a copy of this book from Bethany House and was under no obligation to post a review.
If you're looking for a sweet, faith filled romance, then check out The Two of Us! The Two of Us provides the point of view for three characters. Jake is a disable, retired cop desperate to honor the memory of his fallen partner and reach troubled teens. Mia went through two broken engagements before deciding to dedicate her life to serving on the medical mission field. Then you have Lucy, Mia's younger sister, who is new to God, marriage, and is unexpectedly pregnant. On top of that, you follow present-day Frank and Claire, Jake's parents, and their journey through Alzheimer's Disease. Even though there is such a wide cast with such varied backgrounds and difficulties, the story did not feel cluttered. Rather, each subplot ebbed and flowed perfectly with the main story like they were one body of water. While both Jake and Mia have big, noble, good dreams, sometimes God has different plans for our lives. I also loved how the author was able to show readers through several characters that trying to be perfect and do everything right wouldn't necessarily stop the bad times and how that attitude ultimately shows a lack of trust in God. I could wholeheartedly relate to that message! It touched my must-be-perfect heart. Four Stars ~ A beautiful, classic romance! The Two of Us is a standalone story, but by the time you finish, the characters will feel like family.
"Their gazes danced in the way of curious strangers, a man and a woman who noticed each other and felt the mysterious searching of a human heart." (10) Victoria Bylin sure knows how to write them. Stories that is, and her latest The Two of Us can easily relate to so many of us. It's about dreams, reaching for them, believing in God's plans for them, promises of them and yes, the goal. Yet, do we sometimes have tunnel vision when it comes to these dreams? "We're sitting together in this beautiful place God created, wrestling with our dreams, and thinking about giving them up - not for each other, but because they don't fit anymore. Like old shoes." (279) I love the various threads going on in The Two of Us. First, and what I loved most is the meaning behind serving, and how serving isn't just a single act, it affects others - and when to know to let go. Then there's the servitude right where you're intended to be. It doesn't have to be elaborate or going overseas, though there's nothing wrong with that. God's grace and love reaches everywhere, and how staying is just as important as going. Sometimes our dreams may take a turn, and it's just as God had planned it. "Love is a choice. It's keeping promises when they're tough to keep. It's staying when you want to leave. And it's seeing the other person through the same forgiving lens through which God sees us all." (95) Then we have the love and trust thread. Broken hearts and uncertainties in oneself and others may be too familiar than not. The author's words are perfectly and intrinsically placed throughout, allowing readers to feel with each of these characters, no matter how different they are. From the confident Mia finding it hard to trust, and a single goal in mind to fulfill her promise to Lucy, fun and flamboyant, seemingly without a worry in the world. Yet we see her transformation in accepting and relying in God. Beautiful. "It felt good to ride to the rescue again, even if it was just with a handkerchief for a teary woman." (98) And did I mention Jake Tanner and his sidekick, Pirate? There's just so much weight on this man's soldier, but in the end, I enjoyed his development throughout the story. His acceptance of what is right and understanding there are more than one dream. There's also a thread about Alzheimer's and it opened my eyes a bit more to the emotional toil, let alone the physical one for the patient and his/her family. In all, I've truly enjoyed The Two of Us with a little expectation of the author's writing, which exceeded it by far, and what I can see from that gorgeous, yet peaceful cover. It made me smile. "Life will always have good times and hard ones. . . Trust means something different to me now. It's not about avoiding the hard times. It's about going through them with God's grace and the help of other people." (335) And there we have it. Don't miss out on The Two of Us, a story of dreams, trust, and love. Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, and have not been compensated for this. This is my honest opinion.
I loved this book. The cover gives a hint at the incredible story inside. This story centers around two sisters. One is responsible and hard working, the other is a little flighty with a heart of gold. Mia had responsibility thrust upon her at a young age. She was a 20 year old college student when her mother passed away. She couldn't let her only sibling go into foster care so she took on guardianship of a 10 year old. Mia has always taken care of Lucy and some times tends to be overbearing, but it comes down to the fact that she loves her deeply. There have been two constants in her life, taking care of Lucy and her faith in God. She doesn't make promises she can't keep, but most importantly she wants to follow where God leads her. She has had her heart broken by two men she trusted with all her heart, but no more. She has put men behind her and is focusing on her career. I admire her determination to go after a dream. With her last broken engagement she prayed God would open a new door for her and she plans to take advantage of the open door. Lucy has had only Mia in her life until while in college she met Sam. He's a dream come to life. She and Sam decide to get married because they rushed the honeymoon before the wedding and now are expecting a bundle of joy. She loves Sam and knows this is the right decision even if she is only 18. After they are married, whether it was hormones or anxiety, she suddenly is feeling like she's not good enough for Sam or God. She develops problems with her pregnancy and begins to wonder if this is God's punishment for she and Sam having premarital sex. She tries to rely on God, but tends to reach for Sam during difficult moments. I loved both characters immediately. Lucy was young, but she has a heart of gold and always looks for the best in a person. Mia is strong and responsible, but you can tell what she wants more than anything is to be loved. As each sister begins a new journey in their life each must face what they fear most. For Mia it's trust and with Lucy it's faith. Both characters meet challenges that each of us must face and to be honest this made them seem like real life women. They dialogue is true to life and the issues they face are real. On another note, the author addresses many issues in this story and each are resolved realistically. I loved how she incorporated Alzheimer's disease in a way that the reader could understand what families face when dealing with this horrible disease. It's heart breaking to say the least. This is a book that I would recommend to anyone who loves a good, clean story or needs a good romance. It brings elements of faith, love, trust and new beginnings. *I received this book from the author. I was not required to write a review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
In this heartwarming, lovely book, you get several definitions of love.....all of them so important to humanity! You get child to parent, parent to child, man to woman and vice versa, sister to sister, friend to friend and "surrogate parent" to "orphan child". All those people are combined into a wonderful book that has very relevant themes. That is why I love Victoria's books. She is not afraid to write about difficult issues effecting people today. Her characters are so realistic and they are dealing with real-life problems, yet trusting God to help them along the way. The main characters in the book are Mia and Jake but the other characters are also very much a part of the story too. There is Lucy, Mia's sister and Sam, who is Lucy's fiancé and the son of Jake's dead police partner. Also, Jake's parents are a vital part of the story too, Frank and Claire. Mia has had two broken engagements and has decided to forego relationships to concentrate on being a medical missionary in a foreign country....that is until she meets Jake. Lucy finds herself pregnant and she & Sam decide to get married in Las Vegas! Mia rushes to the wedding and meets Jake who is like the "surrogate father" to Sam because his mother was killed in the line of duty and was Jake's police partner. Mia and Jake try to decide what is right for Lucy and Sam but they want to make their own decision. Meanwhile, Jake's parents are dealing with the difficult daily life of Alzheimer's. Claire has it and it's weighing heavy on the family. It's decided that Lucy will live with her for awhile and take care of her - they instantly bond! There were so many things going on but at the same time it wasn't too much to understand. The book flowed well and the characters were fantastic! I had so much invested in them by the end of the book, I just wanted it to keep going. The last chapter of the book was marvelous! I would highly recommend this book. It's truly a book to get lost in!