Until I Found You by Victoria Bylin
Kate Darby was a mess. In spite of the laissez faire attitude toward life she projected to others, she was a seething tornado inside: fears, insecurities, indecision about her future in spite of her dream job, and loneliness. To complicate her life, her grandmother suffered a stroke and Kate was needed to help her recover while at the same time keeping the family’s local newspaper, the Clarion, afloat during her absence. She had to take two months off from her job, an action that could lead to layoff in the future.
Kate was driving one particular perilous mountain road on the way to her grandmother’s house when she nearly struck a rare California condor feasting on a carcass in the middle of the road. Braking spun her car out of control until the shoulder of the road gave way, sending her over the edge and down the cliff. Before her car plummeted further into the ravine, she was pulled out of her vehicle by Nick, literally moments before it exploded in a ball of fire.
Nick Sheridan, retired veteran of life in the fast lane and reformed playboy bachelor, had recently made his home in Meadows, California while writing for a California travel magazine. He was the one who had discovered Leona Darby after her stroke and gotten her to the hospital in time to save her life. When he pulled Kate out of her downed car, he had recognized her from the pictures Leona had on her desk at the Clarion. Nick was doing some freelance work for her and they had become friends. After her stroke, she had communicated to Nick to help Kate settle in at the newspaper and be her friend.
Once Kate and Nick got to know each other and learned to work together at the Clarion, Nick did his best to ignore his growing attraction for Kate. He had reasons why he needed to keep their relationship platonic. To Kate, Nick had the posture of a soldier, the ease of a cowboy, and the daring of a pirate. Once she learned of the book he had written, she was on the way to viewing him as her knight in shining armor. But Nick knew better how human he really was, and he didn’t want her to put him on a pedestal.
Several months before Kate’s accident, Nick had an epiphany and his life came to a screeching halt. His lifestyle had caught up with him; someone had been hurt as a result of his wayward behavior. He had some major decisions to make. On Mount Abel, he sought and found God. As a result he was in transition, putting away his old ways and adopting a new lifestyle with his brother’s help. From Leona, he knew his old ways would appeal to Kate, but he cared enough for her to know that she needed a real Savior, not him as a substitute. She had her own demons to face, so he needed to stay out of the way while she searched and found her own faith in God. But it was harder than he expected.
The author skillfully writes complex personal problems that intertwine between the three main characters. Leona’s heart ached for her only living family, her granddaughter Kate. She wanted so much for Kate to find the same soul satisfying relationship with God that she has had herself as well as a soul mate like she had with Alex, Kate’s grandfather. But Kate was stubborn. She would have to find her own way through her fears and insecurities. Although Leona’s stroke left her unable to talk, she could still write. So she set out to write in her journal a personal story for Kate that she had never shared with anyone else. She only hoped she would finish the story in time.
The author not only tells a wonderful multi-layered story, but uses metaphors that stir the reader’s heart. Two of my favorite metaphors used in this book are the condors which seem to appear at key moments for Kate, and the mountain road and cliff that played a role in shifting the direction of Kate’s life more than once. Of course, there are more metaphors in the book, and I hope you enjoy discovering them as much as I did.
Another element of Kate’s character development that resonated with me was in her struggle to fill the gaping hole in her life with things she knew well–her exciting job and her hero worship of Nick. But the God-shaped hole just wouldn’t be satisfied through her own efforts. How she came to terms with her doubts and insecurities and how she found faith in God brought back memories of my own internal battles and life lessons through the stages of maturity. In empathy, I was rooting for her to find her way.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from NetGalley on behalf of Bethany House Publishers. I wasnot 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.”