Always With You
by Rena Olsen
G.P. Putnam's Sons
Publication Date : August 7, 2018
Pages : 352
Synopsis from Publisher :
In the wake of a painful breakup and struggling to prove herself at work, Julia feels adrift. When Bryce blows into her life, he seems like the perfect anchor. Handsome, charming, secure, and confident, Bryce brings out the best in Julia, sweeping her off her feet with attention and affection while grounding her with his certainty and faith. Together they embark on a path guided by the principles of his family and their church, each step a paving stone leading to happily ever after.
But this is no fairy tale.
Step by step, one small concession leading to another, Julia is slowly isolated from her job, her friends, and her family, until she comes to find that her dream come true is a cage. Then one day everything changes...and Julia is faced with no choice but to find a way out.
The story of a woman trapped in a mentally and physically abusive relationship is not new. We have seen this story play out in books and movies. Usually these stories end with the woman killing her abuser or the abuser killing her then moving onto to his next victim. What makes Always With You original are the circumstances which lead to the main character's dangerous situation. Unfortunately the story does not live up to its potential.
Meet Julia Hawthorne. In her early 30’s working as an assistant in a marketing firm. Still healing emotionally from a broken engagement, she meets Bryce, a handsome and successful lawyer. Julia is very quickly taken in by Bryce’s charm and they marry. Soon after they marry, Julia learns there is much more to Bryce than she first thought. Julia is now entangled in a web of deceit and danger with no way of getting out.
Always With You has a very original premise. Julia is not only trapped in a troubled marriage, she is also trapped in a religious organization. Bryce is a devout member of the Church of Life. The Church of Life has many loyal members but is also clouded by rumors and mystery. Many of Julia’s friends and family express concerns about the church and Bryce’s dedication, but Julia ignores their concerns. The addition of a religious element to the story of an abused woman is new to me. This is the main reason why I was excited to read Always With You. Sadly the story did not live up to my expectations, I found Always With You predicable and superficial.
Julia’s story has been told many times in fiction, but in my opinion the author missed a great opportunity to make build a more substantial story by not exploring the religious aspect more. The corruption within the Church of Life was implied more than explained. I would have enjoyed the story more if I could have learned details about what the church was up to. When Julia finally realizes she is in danger and decides to stand up for herself, she begins to rebel against Bryce and the church. The way the high ranking members of the church, including Bryce, reacted seemed extreme and a bit over the top. Since I never really learned what was happening within the church, I did not understand why it is so important to keep Julia in line.
Always With You moves at a very fast pace and can be read within a few days, which makes it a perfect read for summer. I am sure there are some readers who will enjoy Always With You and will find Julia relatable. I did enjoy Olsen’s first book The Girl Before, so my lack of enjoyment of Always With You will not stop me from reading other books by Olsen. Readers looking for a lighter fast paced read should add Always With You to their list of must reads.
** Thanks to G.P. Putnam's Sons for my free review copy**
Murder and Moore Rating :
3 out of 5 Stars