Friday, September 1, 2017

"The Two of Us" by Victoria Bylin

Last year, I read and really enjoyed Victoria Bylin's Someone Like You. When I saw her next book, The Two of Us, up for review, I knew I wanted to read it ... and that cover didn't hurt!

After two broken engagements, Mia Robinson is done with dating. From now on, she's focusing on God and her goal to join an international aid organization as a nurse practitioner. But when her 18-year-old sister, Lucy, calls with an invitation to her Vegas wedding, it throws a wrench into Mia's plans.

Jake Tanner has recovered from the injuries he sustained as a police officer—on the outside. Inside, he's yet to heal from losing his partner in the tragedy, but finds some solace in keeping an eye on her young adult son, Sam, who's asked him to be best man at his wedding.

Mia expects a mess when she arrives to sort out the situation with Lucy, but she wasn't expecting Jake, who views the marriage a little differently. As Jake's and Mia's lives slowly become more intertwined, could his courage and her caring heart be enough to bring them a lifetime of healing?

I finished reading The Two of Us with mixed emotions. I really enjoyed both Mia's and Jake's journeys as they pursued the paths they thought God had for them but then had unexpected alternatives pop up. Their romance was believable and enjoyable (I especially enjoyed how they met), and had the book solely been about them, I would have loved it.


Jake's mother Claire, who ends up having a fairly sizable supporting role in the novel, has Alzheimer's disease. Bylin's portrayal of the disease is incredibly realistic, and she says in the author's note at the end that her father-in-law was in the last stages of Alzheimer's as she wrote the book.

I know that Bylin's portrayal is realistic, as my own grandfather had Alzheimer's, and many of the things that Claire does in the novel are things I witnessed my grandpa doing. That made my reading experience incredibly difficult. There's no hint in the book's description that dementia plays a role in the story, so I felt a bit blindsided when I realized it would be a fairly major part of the novel. I tend to avoid books and movies featuring dementia because it is so intensely personal to me. (I lived with my grandparents for several months while my grandma was caring for my grandpa at home, and I lived with Grandma again one summer after Grandpa had moved into a nursing home.)

This is, I believe, the last professional photo of my grandparents.
It was taken when I lived with them in 1999.
None of this is Bylin's fault—as I said, she wrote it well. But I wish that the publisher had given a hint about the content in the book description. Then I could've made an informed choice about whether I wanted to go down the emotional road of reliving my grandfather's illness.

Getting back to the novel itself ... There's a subplot in the novel about Mia's pregnant sister Lucy and Lucy's husband Sam. While their parts of the novel were fine, I really just wanted to get back to Jake and Mia! Near the end of the novel, Lucy and Sam have a discussion about trusting God, and, while everything they said was true, their conversation didn't ring true in the situation. This is in stark contrast to Jake's and Mia's faith situations—everything they experienced and the conclusions they reached felt authentic. I think the novel would've been stronger if Lucy and Sam's story had been a little less prominent.

Overall, The Two of Us is a good book with just a couple things that could have been done better. While it was difficult for me to read, people who haven't had such a personal experience with dementia probably won't react the way I did. 4 stars.

Read an excerpt.
Buy the book.
Read my review of Bylin's Someone Like You (4-1/2 stars).

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, Inspirational Reader's Choice Awards, and the Reviewers' Choice Award. A native of California, she and her husband now make their home in Lexington, Kentucky. Visit her website at to find out more.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for review from Bethany House Publishers. 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."

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