Deseret Book, 2006.
Suggested retail price: $14.95 (US)
Books that describe Mormon mating rituals are alternately amusing and
irritating. Amusing, because there's so much dancing around the subjects
of attraction and sexuality; irritation, well, for the same reason. You
usually know where the story is headed, and you wish they'd just get there.
The best you can hope for is a good ride.
Weyland's latest is a tale of two missionaries, each from families who pass
through the best of times and the worst of times. Josh Baxter and Madison
Forsgren first meet while serving their missions, with Josh serving as her
zone leader. The Baxters live a spartan life, never much in the way of
wealth or luxury. When Grandfather Baxter turns ill and can't maintain his
service station in a remote Wyoming town, the Baxters must relocate and
help him keep the station running. This is not much to the liking of
either of the Baxter children.
The Forsgrens, on the other hand, are relatively affluent. Mr. Forsgren is
a successful attorney. Madison is a college graduate and now works as a
social worker. For Madison, living the Gospel has always been a priority,
but she's found her life being sidetracked by her insecurity about her
looks (she wins a contest to receive a complete makeover in a plush
California resort), and finds herself slowly sliding into a lifestyle not
compatible with her beliefs.
On the last day of their mission, Madison asks Josh for a blessing, during
which he receives a strong message from Heavenly Father that this is the
girl he will marry. He doesn't tell her -- he's too shy, but he decides to
pursue the relationship, although they live several states apart.
Alone, Together has some pretty hairy stuff in it -- kids with guns,
tragic deaths -- things that remind you of the fragility of life. And
there are some happy parts, even amusing. One of the nicest parts of the
book is the relationship Josh has with his sister Hannah, a relationship
that bears heavily on Josh on the book unfolds. And the story of Madison's
California make-over made me chuckle a bit.
However, there's nothing really innovative here. With a few exceptions, a
few bumps, the story is fairly predictable and, at times, cloyingly devout.
Yes, Weyland has honed his craft to the point where he can turn out novels
at a pretty good pace. But only rarely does he surprise the reader with a
novel and unexpected ending.
Readers who enjoy Mormon romance fiction will surely enjoy this book.
© 2006 Jeffrey Needle