*** Precursory note -- I picked this book because I liked the boots on the cover. I wasn't familiar with the author, with the characters...in fact, it wasn't until I had finished the book (delightful choice) that I found out there was another de los Santos book that predated this dealing with the same characters. See that review below.
I really enjoyed this book. Beautifully written with endearing characters, I found it really enjoyable. As mentioned in my note above, I sort of goofed by not reading de los Santos' books in the proper order, but that really didn't damper my enjoyment. I still felt close to the characters almost right away, figured out their relationships to one another and most importantly, cared what happened to them. That's key for me.
Marisa de los Santos is a poet, I found after reading up post-BTM. I subliminally inferred as much from her book. Her words are carefully chosen and paint a really lovely picture. Probably why I enjoyed reading it so much.
What I liked: character and relationship development, beautiful "scenery," everything wraps up with a pretty bow
What I didn't like: some of the animosity or conflict seemed a bit contrived at times...forced? something like that...Piper in particular; she vacillates between vicious and one inspiring empathy too quickly and you end the book a big fan -- hardly believing she's the same Piper that kicked off the book. Her budding romance at the end of the book is...well, it just felt weird to me. And I'm never a huge fan of needing a couple mysteries to make a book come to life; I think the book could have been just as interesting without all the "dun dun dun" cliffhangers.
That's another thing -- de los Santos switched POV like I change my VS panties. So be prepared for that. It's almost like reading a lot of simultaneously occurring short stories. Which I dig. But I can imagine someone might find it irritating? And the overlap is sometimes a little bit of a stretch for my liking.
Final thought: Fun chick read with lots of relationships and pretty affluent scenery written around them :)
I enjoyed it so much so, I went out and got the novel I missed in her series of two (so far) about this crew. "Love Walked In" was, in my opinion, the weaker of the two books. Good news for de los Santos, who appears to be getting stronger in her foray into fiction. But bad news for me, looking to get the same heart out of "Love Walked In" as "Belong to Me." No dice.
LWI was sort of a throw away for me. What I found charming about the main character in BTM now seemed a little more obnoxious. More of the cliff hanger moments and contrived unrequited love popped up here and by this point, I was sort of over it. Maybe because I read BTM first? Not sure. LWI was a NYT bestseller, when in my opinion its follow up was much stronger.
Any-who...I guess if you're going to read one you should read this one first so you get the background down pat before you launch into the meat -- this is the appetizer, so to speak. Bon appetite!