Belonging is the exquisite sequel to Temptation by Karen Ann Hopkins! Belonging began right were Temptation left off. Rose is dropped off with a kindly elder Amish couple to learn the ins and outs of becoming Amish herself. As soon as she arrives at her foster parents home, she is met with the Bishop, and the ministers of the Amish church. She doesn't exactly get a warm welcome, and the Bishop lays down the strict rules of the Amish society of Meadow View, and lectures Rose that she has to prove herself fit for the Amish culture, and become a part of the church before Noah, and her can begin courting, and belong to one another. Rose is upset to learn that the process of learning before she can become a part of the church can take several months. This means that Noah and Rose must adhere to all of the church's rules, or Rose will be removed from the society, and her and Noah will not be able to be together.
The first half went at a slow pace, and consisted of Rose and Noah's day to day lives, their thoughts of each other, and interactions with one another. The story was still told in alternating view points between Rose, and Noah, but this time we also get Sam's (Rose's eldest brother) perspective here and there. It all tied together seamlessly. In Belonging, we got to know a lot more about the secondary character's that were introduced to us in Temptation. We learn a lot more about Sam and his day to day life. Also, Rose become's closer to Suzanna (an Amish friend she met in Temptation,) and Suzanna introduces her to Miranda (another Amish girl,) and Summer (a girl from the country who has grown up among the Amish.) Rose develops close-knit friendships with these three girls, and they all help, and support one another throughout the story. We also learn about the "Amish Way," of doing things. Rose wakes up everyday at dawn and works very hard in a very strict, structured, and regimented environment day to day. Church and prayer are also a big part of the culture, and Rose makes it her mission to do whatever it takes to win over the bishop, and the rest of the Amish community to be with Noah.
The second half of the story picks up pace, and I was sad to finish the book. The characters really developed, and the plot was highly engaging! There were so many plot-twists, and surprises, that kept the story moving along at a rapid pace. Poor Rose and Noah's relationship is tested time and time again! These two couldn't catch a break, and they had so much going against the success of their relationship. Not only did they have cultural differences to overcome, but they also had to deal with two horrific antagonists (Ella, and Levi from Temptation,) and her family being dead set against them being together. At the end we're left in suspense with a surprising cliffhanger! I don't know how I'm going to wait for the third book! The way Belonging left me, I am dying to have answers now. All I know is that I jumped from Temptation to devour Belonging, because there was some suspense at the end of Temptation. However, the suspense we are left with at the end of Belonging was much more intense. I have no doubt, that I will be reading the third and final book of this trilogy in one sitting!
I wonder if love will be enough for Rose and Noah to overcome all of the obstacles that have been thrown in their paths. I hope with all my heart that they will succeed and not only be together, but be happy. I fear that Rose will lose herself, all that she loves, her family, her passions, and her wild, and free spirit! I really want her to have it all! Noah and Rose have the kind of love that two people share if they are lucky enough to, once in a lifetime, and I for one am rooting for them to make it, and have the happily ever after that they both deserve.
I give Belonging 4.5 Suspenseful, Self-Sacrificing, Challenging, Passionate, and Once in a Lifetime Stars! If you have read and enjoyed Temptation, you will enjoy Belonging even more! I highly recommend this series to fans of YA Contemporary Romances that enjoy realistic fiction, angst, suspense, passion, and stories about other culture's. Belonging is an excellent choice for a bookish escape, and it stands out in a genre were a lot of stories are written very similarly. This series is a very memorable read, that you will be thinking about long after you have finished it!
My Favorite Quotes:
"If I'd lost Noah on that fateful night, a part of me would have died also. I couldn't even imagine a world without him-it would be as if the sun disappeared from the sky. My heart wouldn't have recovered, and that's why I had to be brave now. I couldn't live without him, and somehow I had to make my decision to become Amish work-so that the two of us would never be torn apart again.
~Rose (Kindle Loc. 33)
"Deep down, I knew that Rose's headstrong personality was one of the things that I both hated and loved about her. Things were always exciting with her, that's for sure."
~Noah (Kindle Loc. 751)
"The feel of Rose in my arms was better than ever before. And that was hard for me to believe. Each time I touched her, I experienced more desire; just a glance from my sweetheart made the blood pump heavily through my veins. I didn't know if I could rein myself in again if I found myself completely alone with her. All reason went out the door when she was in my embrace.
~Noah (Kindle Loc. 1453)
"See, that's where you and I are different. If I fell in love, I'd give my life for my guy, but not my soul, she said cryptically. What are you saying? The fact that Summer was getting all philosophical had me suddenly on edge. She gazed at me with steady eyes and said, That if you give up your spirit, who you really are, for a guy, you won't have much left to love him with."
~Summer (Kindle Loc. 3066)
For more book reviews, visit A Bookish Escape!