She Belongs To Me (Southern Suspense Series #1) by Carmen DeSousa – 3 stars
A passionate romantic-suspense of love, betrayal, and obsession, She Belongs to Me will have you falling in love and wondering if you can trust anyone right up to the last page.
Charlotte police officer Jordan Monroe is used to being in control. Ever since his father died, he has provided for his mother and sisters and even hired his two brothers-in-law to help run his successful construction company. On a chance business trip, however, he meets the one person who throws his life into a whirlwind–Jaynee.
Jaynee has lived a tragic life and has sworn off all men. That is until a rugged southern gentleman lands in her seating area, refusing to take no for an answer. From the moment they meet, Jordan sweeps her off her feet, assuring her that happiness exists. But can she really escape her past?
Five years later, Jordan finds Jaynee on their back porch with a gunshot wound to the head. While Jaynee lies in a coma, Jordan has to go back to their beginning and figure out what went wrong. Did he push his wife to the edge, or has her past come back to haunt them?
She Belongs to Me is book one of The Southern Suspense Series. From there, all the stories have a slight connection to each other, so you can continue the journey and meet different protagonists with different issues and tragedies to overcome. Every story has a mystery, there’s always a gentle message, and above all, there’s always romance and suspense.
In fairness, I should say upfront that Romance is not my preferred genre to read. I gave this one a shot for two reasons: the series title has the word “Suspense” in it, and it was free.
The opening of this book suffers a lot from Attack of the Backstory; the first few chapters have a lot of showing instead of telling. This recurs periodically throughout the book, even (surprisingly) right up to the very end. Most of it would have fit neatly into conversation instead, and much of the rest could have been left out.
As for the rest of the book, it goes along well until everything in the past turns happy and there’s a lot of flopping back and forth between the present and past. The bits in the past are drawn out too much, and the relationships between the characters other than the Jaynee-Jordan pairing are neglected as a result of it. This leads to the ending feeling forced and unsatisfying.
Jordan is quite obviously a Romantic Stu, a variant of the Marty Stu archetype, who is far too perfect while also being controlling in a way I found creepy. Jaynee is a decent character, though bits about her near the end came out of left field, seemingly put in just because it was convenient.
There are several places where I had to reread the sentence a few times because a particular word choice didn’t make sense to me, and it had enough minor typos that I noticed and was distracted by them.
Overall, I think fans of romance would probably like this book, especially women who enjoy escapist wish fulfillment, but I don’t recommend it for suspense/mystery fans, or anyone else.