Where She Belongs – Johnnie Alexander – Misty Willow #1 – Revell – Published 5 January 2016
Shelby Kincaid is ready to move on from her grief. With high hopes for the future, she longs to purchase her family’s ancestral homestead so she can raise her young daughters in the only place she ever truly belonged. She plans to transform the abandoned house into the perfect home of her memories. But she’ll have her work cut out for her.
AJ Sullivan never wanted the homestead. Inherited as a punishment from his grandfather, it has sat empty for fifteen years and fallen into ruin. He’s glad to finally unload it. But a clean break isn’t possible when he can’t get the young widow Shelby off his mind.
This is by no means a simple romance. Instead it is complicated, has many different facets and is as messy as real life. The characters deal with a multitude of troubles, everything from past grievances, grief, family upheaval and conflict, sins of the past and new surprising revelations that rock their very foundations. Where She Belongs brings together romance, family drama and just a touch of mystery.
Shelby has always dreamed of returning to her family home, Misty Willows, which was taken from her family many years ago. Now she has managed to lease the homestead from AJ Sullivan, grandson of the man responsible for her losing the farm in the first place and someone she is determined to avoid and dislike.
When Shelby returns to Misty Willows with her two young daughters after the death of her husband, she knows it will take hard work to restore the house to its former glory. She doesn’t expect to catch the eye of two men, one she is determined to hate and another who seems charming, gorgeous and maybe too good to be true. The reader is privy to details and knows that one man is all wrong for Shelby for a variety of reasons, so it is slightly agonising watching her fall into his trap. The other guy is far more suitable, but Shelby shies away from his interest due to their families’ shared and muddy past. The chemistry between them is pretty potent, despite how many times Shelby asserts that she doesn’t like him. Fortunately, the ‘wrong’ guy is uncovered about a third of the way into the book. It’s a heartbreaking reveal for Shelby, but at least she is not longer being misled. Further, this guy seems to have quite a change in heart and is to be the hero in the second book in the Misty Willows series. But all is not settled for Shelby. Just when it seems Shelby might have a chance to work things out with AJ, life throws up more complications.
As Shelby restores the old homestead, settles into town and sorts out her love life, she slowly uncovers the truth about what happened between her grandparents and the Sullivans all those years ago and what lead to them losing Misty Willows. It is this complicated history that creates the intrigue at the end of the book.
There is a lot going on in this book. The characters all have to deal with a lot of serious troubles. But despite this, the tone of the book remains upbeat, surprisingly so. Shelby interacts with old friends, new neighbours and the Sullivan descendants as she resettles into Misty Willows, giving the book strong ties to the past and setting the scene for an ongoing series. Shelby gets her happy ending, so I’m guessing the next book will be a companion, with crossover characters but a new set of problems and a new romance story.
Where She Belongs is a nice contemporary. Faith is a constant undertone as the characters discuss their faith and God’s leading in their lives. This book fits right in with other contemporaries, including the books by Becky Wade and Melissa Tag.
The publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Genre: Christian contemporary.
Themes: Family, love and romance, heritage, faith, mystery.
Published: 5 January 2016 by Revell.
Format: Paperback, hardcover, ebook. 368 pages.