Realtor Hannah Thornton has many talents. Unfortunately, selling houses in the town where her family name is practically poison isn’t one of them. When a business tycoon determines to raze historic homes in the small town of Heritage, Michigan, and replace them with a strip mall, Hannah resolves to stop him. She sets about helping Heritage win a restoration grant that will put the town back on the map–and hopefully finally repay the financial debt Hannah’s mother caused the town. But at first no one supports her efforts–not even her best friend, Luke.
Luke Johnson may have grown up in Heritage, but as a foster kid he never truly felt as if he belonged. Now he has a chance to score a job as assistant fire chief and earn his place in the town. But when the interview process and Hannah’s restoration project start unearthing things from his past, Luke must decide if belonging is worth the pain of being honest about who he is–and who he was.
I enjoyed reading You Belong With Me, the first book in Tari Faris’ Restoring Heritage series set in a Michigan small town called Heritage. Hannah is on a mission to save her hometown from a local developer who wants to build a strip mall in the middle of town. She sold her share of the family home she inherited to her brother, Thomas. Despite being a realtor, Hannah is trying to convince her brother not to sell to the property developer and leave town with his new fiancé, Madison.
Hannah’s mother did wrong by the town before disappearing and abandoning her husband and children. Hannah wants to right the wrong by winning a small town restoration contest. She has her heart set on creating a shared community space by restoring the manor house in the middle of town.
Luke is a foster kid who’s looking for a place to belong. He’s loved Hannah for years, but they’ve never resolved their issues from high school when they attempted to date and it ended in disaster. They’re now stuck in the friends zone because Luke doesn’t believe he’s good enough for Hannah. A fun romance develops as Luke and Hannah explore the possibilities of what might happen if they could overcome obstacles to become more than friends.
The romantic subplot with Hannah’s brother, Thomas, and Hannah’s best friend, Janie, was fun and heartfelt. Thomas broke up with Janie after dating for five years but he refused to explain why. Janie returns from Paris to discover Thomas is now engaged to Madison, who he’d only dated for a few short months while she was away. Thomas and Janie are thrown together when Thomas temporarily takes over the management of the diner owned by his aunt and uncle, and Janie is employed at the diner as his baker.
We meet Pastor Nate, who provides wise counsel to the townsfolk and encourages them to open their Bibles and renew their faith. I recommend You Belong With Me to readers who like friends-to-more contemporary romances in small town settings.