When Mia Corelli returns to Alabama for a summer of fun with her childhood best friend, Tessa, there’s only one thing keeping her on edge. One person that she’d do anything to avoid.
Benjamin Kelly. World’s biggest dickhead.
Mia hates him with a fury and has no desire to ever see him again. When she decides to start her summer off with a bang and finally give away her v-card, she unknowingly hands it over to the one guy that excelled at making her life miserable, learning a valuable lesson in the process.
Always get the name of the guy you’re going home with.
Ben can’t get the girl he spent one night with out of his head. When she leaves him the next morning, he thinks he’ll never see her again. Until he sees her lounging by the pool with his sister.
Mia is determined to hate Ben, even though she can’t forget him.
Ben is determined to prove he’s not the same guy he used to be.
What happens when the one person you wish never existed becomes the one person you can’t imagine being without?
First of all, I have to say how excited I was to have the opportunity to read Where I Belong. Before I started, I heard such amazing things from other readers, and it had me that much more anxious to finally start. I’m happy to say that I was not disappointed one bit! Ben and Mia’s story was everything I hoped it would be, and I loved every minute of this book!
Ben and Mia shared an unfortunate past. Since Mia’s best friend growing up was Ben’s sister, Tessa, they saw plenty of each other in their younger years, and most of those interactions were extremely painful for Mia. Ben teased her about her weight (and other things) mercilessly, and never had a kind word to say to her. Such treatment can weigh heavily on a young girl’s self-esteem, and Mia was no exception. She harbored a strong dislike and distrust for Ben all the way into her adult life, long after she had moved far away from her childhood home. When the opportunity arises for Mia to spend the summer with her still best friend, she reluctantly agrees. She’s hesitant to leave her sick mother, who she had been caring for (and who is now on the mend), and she’s loathing the idea of ever seeing Benjamin Kelly again, something which might happen during her stay.
She is happy, however, to be reunited with Tessa after nine long years apart, and I couldn’t blame her! Tessa was a character that I absolutely loved! During the few glimpses into their childhood together, it was clear right away that Tessa was an amazing friend to Mia, always standing up for her with her brother, always ready with a witty comeback and smart remark. This didn’t change as Tessa grew up. She was funny and supportive. She was a bit of a handful, but I loved her more for it, and I’m hoping to see more of her as I continue on with this series. All around, this author writes fantastic supporting characters, and they bring so much to the story on their own, that you can’t help but fall in love with them too. I know each book in this series focuses on a different couple, so I’m excited to see more of these characters that I grew to love.
As for the main characters, they were written beautifully, and their reunion sure is an interesting one! The struggle between Mia and Ben, as she tried to look past the hurt he caused all those years ago, that was still affecting her after all this time, was palpable, and my heart ached for the girl she used to be. Although her feelings of self-worth really did take a hit when she was younger, it was clear that she took those experiences and used them to make herself stronger. She was blunt and demanding when needed, she could quickly bolster her confidence, and she learned to go after what she wanted, no matter what. She was no longer the little girl that sat back and let herself be mistreated. She was braver, she was bolder, and she had turned into a strong woman. In addition to that, she was compassionate, understanding, and very sweet. She was a great character, and I loved the way she was written.
With Ben, we slowly get glimpses into his life as the story progresses. While I savored every detail and looked forward to learning new things about this character, there were rare occasions in which I felt a little blindsided by certain information. He was a mystery– from his home life, to his job, there were a few surprises thrown in there, for sure. I had mixed feelings about the way his story was revealed initially, but then I realized that we were getting to know this “new Ben” just as Mia was, and it became a non-issue for me. He was a mystery for her, as well, and completely different from what he used to be when they knew each other all those years ago. I felt for Ben, also, who had to spend so much time making up for the stupid kid he used to be. But not that bad, because he really was horrible to Mia. I was happy with how much effort he put forth to try to redeem himself, and that he did genuinely feel awful for what he put her through. People don’t realize, especially when they’re younger, just how hurtful and long lasting insults and criticisms can last, and that really did come across well in the way Ben’s story was portrayed. He was determined to make her see that he wasn’t that insensitive kid any longer, and how strong his feelings for her really were.
I absolutely couldn’t put this book down. It grabbed my attention from the very first page, and held it all the way through. This was a pretty quick read for me, and was such a fun story. The chemistry between Ben and Mia was off the charts! He is so very dreamy, I promise you’ll fall in love with him just as I have. This book started off hot and just got better as it progressed. The steamy scenes were just that, super steamy, and we were given just the perfect amount throughout the story to keep things interesting without being bombarded with them. Mia and Ben were such a great fit for one another, and when Mia finally decided to let Ben in, it was a beautiful thing. The author really pulls you into their story, and you’ll be rooting for them the whole time. Where I Belong is a wonderful story about second chances– at friendship, and at love– and is filled with captivating characters that really will worm their way into your heart. It has its fair share of tear-jerking moments, but it’s fast paced, and has a sugary sweet ending that ties things up perfectly. I can’t wait to continue on with this series.
J. Daniels is the NY Times and USA Today Bestselling author of the Sweet Addiction series and the Alabama Summer series. She loves curling up with a good book, drinking a ridiculous amount of coffee, and writing stories her children will never read. J grew up in Baltimore and resides in Maryland with her family.