The Two of Us – Victoria Bylin – Bethany House Publishers – Published 8 August 2017
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.
With The Two Of Us Victoria Bylin has created a delightful novel that perfectly captures the tumultuous emotions of falling in love, following your dreams, and making the very hard choice between those dreams. This is a story of love, family, and human fragility.
Mia is on the cusp of fulfilling her dreams – well, her plan B dream, that is. She is about to interview for a leadership position with Mission Medical, which will enable her to travel, help people in need, and use her nursing skills, putting her far away from the heartbreak of a second broken engagement and her dreams of a family of her own. But her baby sister’s sudden pregnancy announcement and impromptu wedding, has Mia worried. When the opportunity to move to Echo Falls to be near her sister and increase her chance of success in her upcoming interview arises, Mia takes it – even if it also puts her nearer to Jake Tanner. The handsome former detective has his own dreams to help people, particularly teens of police officers who have lost their lives in the face of duty. Mia’s entrance into Jake’s life offers him the chance to follow his other dream – love and a family, but Mia is scared of risking her heart again.
There is so much packed into this book. So much love and fear, so many big dreams, so much desire to help others and serve God. Jake and Mia both have big dreams – Mia to serve overseas and Jake to set up a camp for teens who have lost a parent. Their dreams challenge them and put many obstacles in their way. Both have to decide if following those dreams is worth the cost. I loved how Jake and Mia want to help and serve. Their dreams and goals are so important. Yes, we need people who can do amazing, scary things to help others, but serving can also be done at home in the little, everyday things, and I loved how this was recognised, valued, and celebrated in this book. Alongside Jake and Mia, are Sam, the son of Jake’s former detective partner, and Lucy, Mia’s sister. Lucy’s struggles with faith and feeling worthwhile while she balances pregnancy and a new marriage provide another layer to this story.
The other thing I particularly enjoyed about this book was the time the characters take to asses their feelings and decide upon their future. This might just be a Mia thing, because she is someone who thinks before she speaks and carefully considers every action (unlike her sister), but this gave a book a measured feel, which I really enjoyed. Mia and Jake’s relationship was heartwarming and very enjoyable. They connect from the start but have so many obstacles in their way. Jake is determined to let nothing deter him, but Mia is unsure about her future and what she should do. I thought their feelings translated so well onto the page and are so realistic of the complexity of life.
The other big story in this book that sits alongside Jake and Mia’s romance is the heartbreaking reality of Alzheimer’s disease. Jake’s mother is battling early onset Alzheimer’s and the way in which this disease is hurting her and her family is utterly heart wrenching – but it is, sadly, a story to which so many people will relate. Bylin draws upon her own experiences with the disease to make this a very important, realistic, and bittersweet part of the book.
Readers who like a firm happy-ever-after ending will adore the epilogue. In fact, readers who enjoy well-written, complex stories of love, belonging, faith, and the everyday magic of life are sure to enjoy The Two Of Us.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Genre: Christian contemporary.
Themes: Family, Alzheimer’s Disease, romance, pregnancy, marriage, sisters, faith, PTSD, service dogs.
Published: 8 August 2017 by Bethany House Publishers.
Format: Hardcover, paperback, ebook. 352 pages.