Author: Sarah Darlington
Release Date: February 27. 2014
Genre: New Adult
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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.
“I like you. I more than like you. As hard as I try, I can’t seem to stop and I sure as hell don’t want to try anymore.”
I feel like I must start out by saying that looks can be deceiving, and that statement was never truer than with this book. From the cover to the synopsis to the content, He Belongs with Me blindsided me with its depth and range of emotions. I was blown away with the character development and heartfelt story from this debut author. What was originally portrayed as a love triangle proved to be not so much that and a whole lot of something else. There was substance and a relatability in the characters that left me wishing their story never ended. I absolutely love when books surprise me like this, and leave me reeling.
“If you love someone, you just love them. Flaws and all. You can’t hate someone and love them at the same time-it doesn’t work that way. Love is all or nothing. Sometimes your own issues get in the way, but once you strip away all the noise, you find that there is just love underneath.”
HBwM tells the story of Clara and Maggie. Twins who have always been at odds with each other, they are both just trying to find their way in life. Maggie is the seemingly perfect sister, the one with the perfect life, perfect boyfriend, perfect everything. But like I said; looks can be deceiving. Underneath all that is a girl unknowingly pining over the one who got away and busy putting on a carefully crafted façade. Clara is the black sheep of the family; it’s a role she has thrust herself into willingly. My motto for Clara is there is a thin line between love and hate. Behind a tough exterior lies a girl who just wants to be loved and accepted for who she is. There is a tenderness in her that not many are privy to see, and when it shines through, my heart just ached. While I loved Maggie and Dean’s story, it was Clara and Leo that made this book for me! Their honesty with one another, the ability to see beyond what was first presented, and the devotion to not give on each other. It was beautiful from the first page to the last.
“I just want you. I want you more than my next breath.”
In my opinion, there never really was a love triangle, just misguided feelings. For me, this was two separate love stories the flowed flawlessly together in unison. While I definitely would have read two separate books willingly, I think it still worked. There was enough content for the four of them to share. Darlington writes in a way that puts you in the character’s heads, even when we never read the male’s POV. I felt the anguish, the heartache, the love, the longing; I felt every delicious emotion and in the end I was sated. This was a phenomenal debut from Darlington and I very much look forward to her next read!
“Just so you know…if you’re dreaming, then I’m dreaming too. And I’m gonna make sure you never wake up.”