Victoria Bylin has taken some hard topics and woven them into a cohesive novel that grips the reader and doesn't let go until the last page. She takes on fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, unequally yoked couples, finding salvation, and unending guilt and creates a riveting story with all these facets in it.
Penny is a young girl who has just lost her mother and has gone to live with the father she didn't know she had. The disruption to her life is near tragic proportions, and without impulse control, she often runs away from things that bother her or she has major meltdowns. Penny is also the victim of fetal alcohol, and while she is not full blown syndrome, she exhibits some of the characteristics.
Carly is the assistant manager of a stuffed animal emporium and absolutely loves the children who come into her store.
Ryan, an optometrist, is Penny's father, who is at a complete loss as to how to deal with Penny. He is also at a complete loss as to how to deal with his teenage sons while their mother is overseas for the summer on a missions trip.
Kyle and Eric are the sons.
These are the major players in the book.
The excitement begins when Eric loses Penny in the mall and Carly finds her in her store. When Ryan sees how Carly is able to relate to Penny, he offers her a job as Penny's nanny on the spot. It takes some talking from Ryan and an interview that includes the family to convince Carly that she will be willing to help the family.
Ryan is agnostic, though his sons are not, and the more time he spends around Carly, the more he falls in love with her. When he sees the progress she makes with Penny and her ability to help him connect with his sons, he begins to believe that he MUST have her in his life.
Carly knows that Ryan has no relationship with Christ, and she tries to guard her heart, but Ryan is hard to resist, and it becomes even harder for her to resist him when he insists she move into the nanny suite after a murder in her apartment building.
Victoria's ability to make this a seamless novel sets her apart as a novelist. Her characters are deep and relatable, their struggles are real, their pathos believable. Her plot pacing keeps the reader engaged and committed to finding out how Carly and Ryan do end up married. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. There will be something that almost any reader can relate to.
Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a meltdown-free day.
My Thanks to Bethany House for allowing me to read and review this book.