The One You're With
By: Lauren K. Denton
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: 7/6/2021
My Rating: 5 Stars
Written in Lauren K. Denton’s signature Southern style, The One You’re With tells a story of marriage, choices, and what a good life really looks like.
High-school sweethearts Mac and Edie Swan lead a seemingly picture-perfect life in the sleepy-sweet community of Spring Hill, near Mobile, Alabama. Edie is a respected interior designer, Mac is a beloved pediatrician, and they have a historic home on tree-lined Linden Avenue, two great kids, and an orange cat named Ramona.
From the outside, the Swan family is the definition of “the good life.” And life is good--mostly.
Until a young woman walks into Mac’s office one day. A young woman whose very existence threatens all Mac and Edie have built and all they think they know about each other.
Nineteen years after a summer apart, with a family and established lives and careers, the past that Mac and Edie thought they left behind has come back to greet them. For the first time, constants in their lives are called into question: their roles as parents, their reputation as upstanding members of the community, and the very foundations of their marriage. As they wade through the upheaval in both their family and professional lives, they must each examine choices they made long ago and chart a new course for their future.
'A family's idyllic home life is disrupted by a stranger in this excellent inspirational drama from Denton (The Summer House) . . . Fans of contemporary Christian inspirationals will love this powerful, contemplative family saga.'
— Publishers Weekly
'This story is a realistic view of the trials of a long-term relationship and reminds readers that marriage is a choice to love someone every day. Denton's fifth novel (after The Summer House, 2020) is a compelling beach read . . . it is a good recommendation for a family-friendly relationship drama.'
"Denton leaves no stone unturned as she explores how past decisions can change the course of one's future forever."
“In The One You're With, author Lauren K. Denton dives headfirst into a complicated, tangled situation that shakes the foundation of one family's life as they're forced to reckon with both the past and the future. Denton asks the tough questions, and with great sensitivity and intuitiveness, she unfurls an insightful, emotional story of the impact of the decisions a husband and wife in the present day made two decades earlier. A complex, compelling, powerful story about the roads not taken, the seismic shifts that can happen in an instant, and the way that sometimes, the decisions of the past shape the future in ways we couldn't have imagined.”
—Kristin Harmel, New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Lost Names and The Forest of Vanishing Stars
“Lauren Denton is a master not only of Southern fiction, but at capturing the nuance of complicated, messy relationships. This is one of those rare books that I devoured in less than 24 hours, yet didn't want to end.”
—Colleen Oakley, USA TODAY bestselling author of You Were There Too
“Reading a Lauren K. Denton book is like spending time with treasured friends. With her warmhearted Southern voice, she expertly guides readers along the achingly emotional path of a marriage in trouble in The One You’re With. This poignant story touches on how the choices we make can shape a lifetime, for better or for worse, and serves as a reminder to never take love for granted. Fix yourself a tall glass of iced tea and settle in, because you’ll have a hard time putting down this lovely, heartfelt novel.”
—Heather Webber, USA TODAY bestselling author of Midnight at the Blackbird Café
Ideal for summer beach reading and book clubs.
Southern storyteller, Lauren K. Denton is known for “Southern grit and grace, humor, hope, and love. They most definitely apply to her latest, THE ONE YOU’RE WITH.
With her vivid descriptions and signature style, THE ONE YOU’RE WITH tests the bonds of marriage and family and the complex choices we make both past and present. When fissures from the past threaten the perfect present-day façade. Most importantly, how will this family handle the cards they are dealt?
Present day: Set in a small town of Oak Hill, AL, Mac, and Edie have the perfect marriage with friends and well respected in the community. Mac a highly respected pediatrician and Edie an interior designer with two children Avery (14) and Thomas (11).
It is Mac’s 40th birthday and Edie has a huge surprise birthday party planned with all their friends. However, before Mac arrives at the party, he gets a surprise of his own.
A young woman walks into his practice named Riley (and pregnant) and announces he is her father. Mac takes one look at the woman and knows she is his own.
From past to present we flashback to the summer of 2000, when Edie and Mac were dating and they broke up, with the summer apart. Mac was trying to decide on his career as a doctor and took a summer job at a marina and took an apartment with his friend Graham. Edie decided to move to New York to take an internship at an interior design firm.
Graham, Edie, and Mac were always great friends. However, that summer they have pulled apart. Since Graham wanted to be an architect, he and Edie had shared interests in the design field. They wrote each other postcards during the summer. Edie and Mac had no correspondence. Graham never shared this with Mac.
However, Mac discovered these cards and did not mention this to Graham. At the same time, he met a local girl named Kat that worked at the marina and they became good friends. She was unlike any girl he had known before.
Graham, Edie, and Mac kept their own secrets. Mac had no clue Kat was pregnant when he left that summer. Edie and Mac got back together and later married.
However, now the truth comes out. Mac does the right thing and wants to help Riley and does not want to just give her money but wants to get to know her and offer her help since her mom has passed away.
How will he make Edie understand and what about Edie’s secrets with Graham? He is back in town and wants to go in business with her. There are choices to be made on both sides of the marriage.
In this small-town community, their perfect family now will be viewed as different from the outside. However, maybe there is hope that the events of the past will make their family stronger in many unexpected ways.
I have had the pleasure of reading all Lauren K. Denton’s books and enjoyed each of them. She has a talent of drawing you into the setting and into the inner lives of the characters which make them come alive on the page.
Even though Mac and Edie were the main characters, there were some fantastic secondary characters. I particularly enjoyed Mac and Riley as well as Cynthia and Fitz and the ending. This novel was so realistic and vivid and hooks you immediately and holds you. It is a scenario that is realistic and could happen to any marriage and family.
Beautifully rendered, a powerful story of the choices we make as young adults which carry over to adulthood. For fans of Charles Martin, Nicholas Sparks, Diane Chamberlain, and Patti Callahan. All my favorite southern storytellers!
Highly recommend. An engaging story of marriage, choices, and the important things in life. Stay tuned for my upcoming Elevator Ride with Lauren, coming July 6th where we will go behind the scenes of the book and the author.
Pub Date: July 6, 2021
Q & A with Author Lauren Denton
What made you write this story?
Several of my previous novels have dealt with marriages that were less than ideal. Other than Ty in Hurricane Season, the husbands have pretty much been duds! In this novel, I wanted to show a marriage that is, for the most part, healthy and strong. I wanted a good relationship, a strong family life, and solid careers. Of course, a perfectly happy life doesn’t make for a good story in a novel, so I knew something—or someone—would have to come along and disrupt their happy home life.
Once the “disruption” comes into play, I wanted to see what these characters would do with the new information and their new realities. I wanted to see them deal with not only the actual disruption but also the pain and shame that comes with having the façade of “the perfect life” stripped away.
How does The One You’re With fit in conversation with your other novels? What common themes appear throughout your books?
The theme of home is strong in all of my novels. I think a lot of this comes from the fact that I don’t live in my actual hometown. Being away from the area where I grew up has only increased my affection—and sometimes longing—for it. But I’ve also learned that the concept of home doesn’t always involve an actual physical place, but the people you make a home with.
In all my novels, my characters have found their way home, whether that’s to the place where their lives began or to a specific person or group of people who make them feel at home. In The Summer House, Lily finds her home not in the place where she was born or where she lived with her husband, but a new place with a whole new group of people who take her in and make her feel whole. The Hideaway has Sara returning to her home she left a long time ago, but she comes to love it in a new way because of the people there. Similarly, The One You’re With features characters learning where their heart has truly found a home.
Your description of the places in your novels really make them come to life. How do you craft these descriptions? What details matter most to you when describing a locale?
The simple answer is that I write about the places I love the most! So far, my novels have mostly taken place in south Alabama and mostly near water. I grew up in Mobile, Alabama, an area of the state that is laced with rivers and creeks and lagoons, not to mention Mobile Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, which is only about an hour south. Living four hours north in Birmingham, I miss having all that water close by, so instead of living there, I write about it!
I always want the settings of my stories to feel like an actual character in the book. My goal when I describe a place, whether it’s an actual location like New Orleans or Dog River or a fictional place like Sweet Bay or Safe Harbor Village, is to make it so that a reader in Kentucky or Iowa or Arizona can feel like they’ve spent the summer in that place, even if they’ve never been anywhere in Alabama. I want them to feel the heat and humidity and smell the salt water and pine trees. I want them to feel like the story couldn’t have taken place anywhere else. Or if it did, it wouldn’t be the same story.