Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Someone Like You by Victoria Bylin

Single mom Julia Dare has a lot on her plate. A brand new Christian, she's busy trying to run her own business, spend time with her widowed mother, and raise her young son, Max, despite his father's less-than-ideal influence on him. When a big account from her event-planning business sends her to the Caliente Springs resort, she's shocked to come face-to-face with Zeke Monroe, the resort's general manager and her college sweetheart.

With his faith in tatters, Zeke Monroe is determined to keep the historic Caliente Springs resort running despite financial difficulties. But when Julia walks back into his life, he can't ignore the feelings she stirs up. As they work together on an important client's dream wedding, the fate of the resort soon depends on their success. When Zeke and Julia are pushed to their limits both personally and professionally, will their history put up walls between them or bring them together?
Excerpt from back cover

In Victoria Bylin's latest book Julia Dare isn't the only one with a lot on her plate. I was surprised just how much was packed into my first foray with Bylin's writing. Between Julia, Zeke, and Hunter or Ellen and George or Ginger and the wedding or Max there was always something going on in this book. The more I read, however (and there was a lot to read: exes, siblings in different directions, etc), the more I began to feel that this was due to the author's strengths. While I felt there was nothing overly noted about the setting (good or bad) Bylin's obvious strength was in the characters and relationships she mapped out for their lives. It was good to see Bylin utilizing that strength and made for a far stronger book in the end than I anticipated.

The main characters were well constructed. Julia was honest in her confusion as she tried to sort out old feelings and new relationships along with her growing faith and new life as a business owner and single mom. She had a strength in her vulnerability that was nice to see in this genre. Although that said. I far preferred following Ellen's journey with George. 

Ellen and George, although a fast pace considering the one month timeframe giving under the one month wedding planning job that brings Ellen, Julia, and Max to the resort. However, her struggles to move forward, her obvious love for her family, and just the overall sweetness of George's attention made me almost want to skip through to find more of this sweet duo. Maybe growing up in a family that loved westerns influenced me a bit but George just seemed like the uncle or grandpa you wished could jump off the page and spend time with face to face,

The plot itself felt fairly predictable in pacing and resolution for a contemporary romance fiction but Bylin was able to throw in some wonderful highlights including Chet and Ladybug that will help Someone Like You stand out in readers minds rather than fall into the grey murkiness of forgotten books. 

4 out of 5 stars

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc."