I’m always on the lookout for new-to-me authors and was in the mood for contemporary romance, so when Theresa Rizzo‘s self-pubbed debut HE BELONGS TO ME popped up in my inbox, it grabbed my attention. I liked the excerpt (and loved the cover – yes, shallow…), and so accepted a review copy.
He Belongs to Me is a love story . . . a tale of betrayal and deception and of a young mother’s determination to recover what belongs to her.
Forced to leave her baby and tricked into relinquishing her parental rights, four years later Catherine Boyd is back and she’ll do anything to regain custody of her son–even reconcile with the husband falsely accused of killing their son’s twin.
All in the name of love for a little boy, generations of pain and tragedy are exposed in a courtroom drama.
I have a soft spot for the lovers reunited trope, and this certainly qualified. After Catherine’s parents trick her into giving up custody of her young son, Catherine and her estranged husband, Thomas, are forced to pretend they’re back together so that she can regain custody. Obviously, they’re still carrying a torch for each other, and just as obviously, their make-believe reconciliation becomes a real one. Their romance mostly worked for me, but it did sometimes veer on the side of more tell than show – I think because the story unfolds over a number of months, but is covered in a relatively short number of pages.
I liked the shades of grey in this story – it would be easy to paint Catherine’s parents as the no-holds-barred villains of this story, but Ms Rizzo kept their portrayal on just the right side of realistic. The multiple POVs helped here, though I think they ended up promising a bit more drama than actually delivered. However, the other secondary characters were a bit more two-dimensional, and a number of events felt as though they were there just to set up the final courtroom battle.
Speaking of which, the author certainly came across as knowing her legal stuff (disclaimer: I know nothing about the legal system/process so could be completely wrong here) and the courtroom scenes, especially towards the end, were filled with tension. Conversely though, I felt that the level of detail sometimes got in the way of the story – it’s a fine balance between keeping the plot believable without slowing down the pace, and I think the latter won on occasion. The ending, however, was satisfying with enough redemption on all sides, and generosity in victory closing the story on a feel-good note.
I went into this story expecting some rather angst-y romance based on the blurb – however, HE BELONGS TO ME turned out to be more sedate despite the high stakes at risk, with the promise of major drama left somewhat unfulfilled.
Review based on an ARC courtesy of the author/NetGalley.