Release Day Blitz, Reviews & Giveaway: He Belongs With Me: Sarah Darlington

Sarah Darlington
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Two girls. One Leo.

Identical twins, Maggie and Clara Ryder, both grew up with Leo Maddox, billionaire playboy, apparent alcoholic, and heir to his grandfather's world-famous Maddox hotel empire. Their roles were cemented long ago: Maggie, as his best friend and Clara as his childhood nemesis.

But when a simple twist of fate changes everything and both girls start to fall for the lean, mean, ridiculously sexy and seemingly spoiled Leo... which girl will win his heart?

Throw in a little mischief, drama, and one smoking-hot bartender and lines are sure to blur. But one thing's for certain, neither good-girl Maggie nor rebellious Clara will be satisfied until they each figure out where they belong. 

“Clara?” His eyes searched my face, screaming with unexpected vulnerability and fear. He seemed genuinely worried about me. “What's going on? Say something, please. Are you okay?”
I nearly lost my nerve. How easy it would have been to kiss him and fall into his arms all over again? A big piece of me wanted to do just that, but one moment of weakness was all I was going to allow myself for the day. “Am I okay?” I asked him, trying to sound indifferent and not angry. “What's that annoying code word you and Maggie used to say all the time? The two of you probably thought I was too dumb to crack that little language you created to use against me. Oh yeah, I remember now. Peaches. I'm just totally peaches.”
Standing tall, I reached my arm above his head and slowly poured the remaining contents of my beer on top of him. A shocked breath left his lips, but he didn't budge and took the beer shower like a man. “Real mature, Clara,” he grunted, glaring a shitload of hate-fire my way as the liquid coated his hair, face, and clothes. Angry as hell and soaking wet was a good look on him.
“That's for making me care,” I told him, setting my empty glass back down on the table. Then my hand swung hard and made stinging contact with his wet face. “That's for being a jerk to me since we were kids. And this...” I stood up on my tiptoes, grabbed hold of his handsome, shocked face, and planted one firm kiss on his wet lips. “That's so you know I'm not fucking around.” I held onto him for another moment. “Prove it to me,” I whispered. “Prove to me you aren't an ass and I'm all yours.”
     Then I pulled away, turned on my heel, and left Leo standing there, soaking wet and stunned.

He Belongs to Me alternates between Maggie and Clara, twin sisters who barely talk, let alone get along. They are very different personalities. Maggie has always been eager to please their father and help out with the country club. Of the two sisters, she fits in better with the country club set, preferring designer clothes and a focus on appearances. Clara has spent all her energy trying to break out of the country club mold she doesn’t feel she fits in. She dies her hair to get a reaction from her father and generally acts impulsively, not feeling like she can live up to the expectations set for her. The two sisters attend the same university, but stay away from each other as much as possible.

And then there’s Leo. Leo lives across the golf course from the girls, and grew up alongside them, as the son of their father’s best friend and business partner. Leo is Maggie’s best friend, and has teased Clara for as long as any of them can remember. When he expresses interest in Clara, it sends both sisters into a tailspin. He appears to have a drinking problem, and Maggie worries that he is always alone in his family’s mansion. 

When Clara shows up at a country club function on the arm of Maggie’s ex-boyfriend, then runs out as soon as she sees who has come as Maggie’s date, things really started getting interesting. I really didn’t like Clara in those first few chapters. Every move she made came off as a dig to her sister, and just felt really cruel. As more chapters came from her perspective, her actions took on a different meaning. In some ways she strikes me as the stronger of the sisters. For years she has done what she wanted regardless of the consequences. But at the same time, her impulsiveness creates more trouble than it solves on several occasions throughout the book. And I swear, Clara has the worst luck with her cell phone battery of any character I’ve ever read, or person I’ve ever met. It was always going dead at the least opportune moments.

I was shocked that Maggie wouldn’t recognize the identity of the man she picks up as her fake date in the beginning, but the repercussions of that date were epic and I loved the addition of that aspect of the story. There were times when Maggie’s personality grated on me a little bit. She is very attentive to outward appearances and often makes assumptions based on people’s appearances -- if everything looks ok, she will ignore anything simmering under the surface, refusing to see that there might be something deeper at work.

My favorite part of this book was the way it looked like a love triangle, but wasn’t. Despite the illusion of a love triangle, no one feels slighted or left out. Because of the alternating POV, it is really two stories woven together in a perfect way. As the story unfolded I loved the technique more and more until I couldn’t put the book down. This was a quick read, but kept me turning the page to see what the girls were up to next and how the guys would react. It had some great surprises and twists that really added to the story, without making it overly dramatic or unbelievable. 

Thanks to Sarah Darlington for providing me with and arc in exchange for an honest review. 

Start with identical  twins "Good Girl" Maggie and Rebellious Clara. Throw in two men, Leo and Dean that both have long time connections to the twins and strong mixed feelings....and an ex boyfriend, Andrew who sees no problem throwing over one twin for the other.

Now mix up a lot of half-truths, omissions, lies, and misconceptions. Add a touch of angst, drama, misunderstandings and you get He Belongs With Me.

Maggie is Daddy's girl...the responsible well liked one. She follows the rules and takes care of people.  She has been hurt by men and she is hurt often by her twin. Clara is always getting into trouble, pushing the envelope, going for shock value, and challenging people. She is seen as the uncaring, manipulative twin but she also puts on a tough facade for others. 

Leo is a young, rich, hotel heir that grew up with the Golf Club heiress twins. He and Maggie are best friends while he and Clara clash. While Maggie and Leo understand each other and have an easy camraderie, Clara and Leo either fight, taunt, or ignore each other.  Bar owner, Dean inadvertantly gets pulled into the dynamics. He has recently returned to town also has a shared past with the girls and at one time they both liked him. And if that is not enough, Maggie's ex-boyfriend Andrew is currently dating her twin, Clara.

Confused yet? Well, it does start out in a bit of a jumble in both Maggie and Clara's points of view that do not see things the same way, multiple men, and a lot of feelings simmering under the surface. But it all comes together and makes sense.

I really liked both Leo and Dean. They were different personalities and both had their issues, but were good matches for the twins and were able to keep them on their toes. They both had feelings that they had not expressed, but knew what they wanted and were not afraid to go after it. 

It is full of drama, mixed messages, jealousy, and confusion as they are thrust together and try to figure out who really belongs with whom.  It also deals with healing relationships that have been damaged, broken, or changed. 

It was funny, fast-paced, engaging, and sweet. There were twists, turns, and surprises. I enjoyed the characters, their feisty interactions, and the story line. I did like getting both points of view and it was really needed in order to see how diverse each twins' thinking and reasoning was. I will say that at times it felt rushed. There was a rapid shift in thoughts and quick transitions in feelings throughout the book. The men were more clear cut in their wants and needs. But the girls were indecisive, confused, and changed their minds often. The L word was thrown around rather quickly, but it was not really insta-love since these characters had known each other for a long time. But I felt that they did not really have time to actually develop the relationships as they progressed. There were a few minor plot things that made me shake my head or think twice about. But overall, if you can let that those things go, it was cute, fun, humorous, and romantic. 

Thanks to Sarah Darlington for providing me with and arc in exchange for an honest review. 

Sarah Darlington Blog I Facebook Goodreads TwitterSarah Darlington is obsessive by nature.  When she gets an idea in her mind, it becomes impossible to shake. Take her debut novel, HE BELONGS WITH ME, for example.  Before deciding to write New Adult Romance, she wrote three different versions of the same Young Adult Novel where her main characters were teenage superheros from an alternative universe.  It never worked.  It drove her crazy.  Then she dropped the superhero bit, added some spice, and suddenly everything started to click.  She found her niche.  And if it hadn't been for her obsessive nature she never would have learned how to write in the process.  

Sarah lives in Virginia, is married to her high school sweetheart, and is currently spending her days chasing around a very active toddler.  When she gets a chance to breathe, she writes.

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for reading and taking part in the tour!! :) love your blog!


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