A few years ago, I read a book called Belong To Me. It was about a married couple, about my age, who had just moved into the kind of suburban wonderland that looks picture perfect at first sight, but underneath, of course, it isn’t quite as sublime as one might think. I thoroughly enjoyed it, even more so when I learned the author, Marisa de los Santos, is local to me. But even though I enjoyed it, somehow de los Santos’ other books slipped beneath my radar – until I got a Bookbub e-mail one day in April that had one of her titles, Love Walked In, for sale. Remembering how much I liked Belong To Me, I grabbed it right away, and was thrilled to discover it was actually the first book in what would eventually become a trilogy, and told the story of Cornelia Brown before the events of Belong To Me. And I enjoyed it just as much.
Cornelia is a thirty-something cafe manager in Philadelphia with a love for classic films who falls immediately and deeply in like with Martin, a suave, sophisticated Cary Grant doppelganger who seems to have it all together. But of course Cornelia quickly learns that he doesn’t, and when Martin’s ex-wife goes missing, Cornelia becomes surrogate caregiver to Clare, Martin’s estranged eleven-year-old daughter.
Precocious doesn’t even begin to describe Clare. But because she’s also charming, endearing, and intensely likable, not to mention the fact that we share a love for Anne of Green Gables, her precociousness isn’t a liability. I found myself rooting for her even more than Cornelia, although of course I wanted them both to find their happy endings. And while the story was a bit slow-moving at times, it was never boring.
One thing about Marisa de los Santos is that she’s an artist with words in a way that I will only ever dream of. Her writing flows effortlessly, reading more like poetry than prose. It’s absolutely beautiful and if I practice every day for the rest of my life I will never be able to construct a sentence as gorgeous as the ones that litter the pages of this book. It makes me anxious to re-read Belong to Me, and pick up the third book in the series, I’ll Be Your Blue Sky, which was just released last year.
If you enjoy Jojo Moyes, Elin Hilderbrand, or Jennifer Weiner, I suggest giving Marisa de los Santos a try.