Sunday, April 21, 2013

Book Review: Belonging by Karen Ann Hopkins


Title: Belonging (Temptation #2)
Author: Karen Ann Hopkins

Pages: 408
Published: TBR April 30, 2013

Publisher: Harlequin TEEN
Book Source: NetGalley
My Rating: 3 of 5 stars


My Review: *POSSIBLE SPOILERS* 

*This review contains spoilers for Temptation—book one in the series!*

Belonging picks up right where it's predecessor left off. Rose has decided to join the Amish community to be with Noah. She left her family behind and is now being integrated into the Amish community and lifestyle. She is living with an older Amish couple that I guess could be considered a “host family” or something similar.

Rose is accepted by some, but mostly she is met with wariness or outright hostility. Right from the get-go, Rose knows this will be a tough journey. She is told that she and Noah may not court until she is better acquainted with their “Plain” ways and joins the Amish church. But being with Noah is all she cares about, so she tries her best to fit in and prove herself.

Only, things won't be so easy once others decide to get involved. Not only does Rose have people within the Amish community working against her, but her own family is opposed to the arrangement as well. Her father only let her go to live with them under the assumption that Rose would tire of the back-breaking work and strict rules and come running home within a couple of weeks. But Rose proves to be very resilient, and months later, her father and older brother decide to take matters into their own hands.

The fallout of their actions causes a dramatic chain of events that will change all of their lives forever.

- - -

**MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD!**

I enjoyed Temptation, but I did have my problems with it. The same is true for this book. Some of my issues are the same, some different. The first thing that I cannot wrap my head around is the fact that this is supposed to be a real and true love story. Rose and Noah are supposed to be this crazily epic couple, but what I read made it seem more unhealthy than anything. I understand all-consuming love, and I am all for it when done right, but this story bugs me. I don't like Noah. I just don't like him! He is way too possessive and judgmental. Everything Rose does is met with criticism! She gives up EVERYTHING for this guy, and all he does is complain! Not only that, but when Rose's family gets involved, Noah is too quick to bad-mouth Rose and cast their relationship aside.

I just don't see any real basis for love. I see lust. Pure lust. Throughout most of Noah's POV, he just thinks about how gorgeous Rose is, how much he wants to kiss and grope her, and how he can't wait to get some time alone with her so they can flirt and paw each other. The only thing about her personality that he outright claims to love is how strong-willed she is, but even that doesn't make sense, because within the next few pages he is putting her down for that exact thing.

And then we have Rose herself. I admire her to an extent for how much she puts forth to be with Noah. It's a heck of a lot more than he puts forth. She gives up her family, her clothes, her personality, her holidays, her beliefs, her time, her LIFE. And she does it with barely a complaint. She puts up with having to ignore Noah until they can court, and then she puts up with the hands-off (they can't even hold hands!) policy when they finally do begin courting. I admire the strength and dedication, the ability to persevere, etc. What I don't admire is giving up the very essence of who you are just to be with a boy who doesn't seem to care what you are sacrificing for him.
“Now here I was, within an hour of becoming officially an Amish woman. I'd agreed to obey a doctrine that I didn't understand, and to be honest, really didn't believe in. I felt as if I was a fraud.”
That pretty much says it all.

Their feelings for each other may be all-encompassing, but they don't seem like more than lust and the temptation of forbidden fruit.

What I really DID enjoy was how many new things the author threw into this book. For one thing, we had not two, but three POVs to read from. Rose, Noah, and Sam. Sam is Rose's older brother. We get to learn more of how her family feels about her being with the Amish. We also get a nice little side-story about Sam and his own love life. I am really excited to read more about this in the next book. :) I enjoyed having the extra element of Sam's POV to the story. He was the person I could relate to most of all. He doesn't agree with the fact that Rose has to join a religious order to be with the boy she loves.

Along with the side-plot involving Sam, we also meet some new Amish characters. Rose becomes close friends with Suzanna and Miranda, two of the more rebellious girls in the community (Noah, of course, DISAPPROVES). There is a side plot within this piece of the story as well. I don't want to give a major spoiler, so I won't tell you the deets, but it all weaves together perfectly!

Sam's friend, Hunter, is also brought back to the story. He adores Rose, and we get a little bit of a love triangle going on. I know, I know... not a love triangle! It's done very well, though. I enjoyed Hunter. I like him A LOT more than I like Noah. I obviously will not get my wish for Hunter to be the winner of Rose's heart, but a girl can dream, can't she?

The biggest surprise of all was Rose's family getting involved in her Amish life. Again, I can't go into specifics without giving away the biggest, best part of the story, but it's fantastic. All my frustrations faded away once we neared the climax. It's completely unexpected and mind-blowingly dramatic. After the big blow-out we get to see some major character development and growth; some changes for the better, and some for the worse.

Overall, this was a good follow-up to Temptation! If you enjoyed the first book, I think you'll enjoy this one as well. The plot progresses at a wonderful pace. The new characters are fantastic, and I really enjoyed seeing the interaction between them. They all have such different beliefs and opinions, it made for an interesting read. I think the romance is frustrating, but I do hold hope that things will play out for the better in the next installment. I definitely plan to read it. :) I promise this book will not let you down in the way of surprises and plot twists! I definitely recommend it if you liked the first book in the series.

~ 3 OF 5 STARS ~