Meant to be Mine
In this new series kickoff, Lisa Marie Perry introduces readers to the town of Eaves, Massachusetts and a vibrant set of characters. Meant to Be Mine focuses on Sophia and Burke, who were best friends of sorts in high school but have not seen each other since Sophia left town several years ago. Brought back by circumstances beyond her control, Sophia has to decide if the place she once lived can ever truly be “home” and if the boy she left behind is someone to build a life with.
The daughter of an Irishman and an Argentinean/American mother, Sophia is on her way to her aunt Luz’s funeral in the small shore town of Eaves, MA. She’s dragged along her roommate from Manhattan to act as a sort of moral support, as Sophia’s childhood is not exactly full of happy memories. After a funeral full of slightly awkward interactions, she discovers that her aunt has left her her business (an erotic boutique), her apartment (above said boutique), and her dog. Blindsided by both logistics and grief, Sophia spends the first half of the book trying to get her bearings.
Burke Wolf has known Sophia for all of his life, and has loved her for nearly as long, not that he ever told her. A recovering addict and the survivor of serious childhood trauma, Burke is now a longshoreman who docks his boat in Eaves rather than someone who calls Eaves “home”. When he and Sophia run into each other on the night of the funeral, emotions he thought long dormant begin to spring up again.
Just as Sophia spends time trying to orient herself, so did I. The book doesn’t hold hands with the reader, guide us gently into this world and introduce us to the characters. Instead, I got the feeling of being plunged into a world I should understand but didn’t, with people I should remember but have never met. The result is that I spent about a third of the book figuring out which characters I should be invested in and keeping track of a web of people. Once I sorted everything out, the book was enjoyable and the characters compelling. Burke and Sophia clearly have history, but it takes most of the book to untangle it. For what it’s worth, I feel the resolution is worth the work, but I suspect some readers may not.
Two big keys to understanding Sophia and Burke, both as people and as people in a relationship, is that Sophia spent her childhood living with a heart defect. She received a transplant at the end of her adolescence, but the aftermath of that transplant is still present in her life. Her physical scar is nothing compared to some of her emotional ones. While she was growing up, she made few connections in town and among her peers. The rare exception was Burke, whose father owned the local grocery store. That store’s basement and the basement of her aunt’s adult toy store are connected, and the two used to meet clandestinely. Instead of getting up to physical hi-jinx as one might assume of two teenagers, Sophia’s heart condition precluded that, forcing the two into an emotional intimacy lacking in their families.
Burke’s reaction to his specific family dynamic was to numb the pain through drug and alcohol use. Sophia was his only connection to reality, his only tenuous link to sobriety. When she left town after her transplant, Burke spiraled into years of personal destruction. Sober when we meet him, his PoVs let us know those demons are present, just tamed.
I’ve mentioned before that there are a lot of people in the story, and I want to touch on that briefly. With this book, Ms. Perry is clearly setting up the world she plans to explore in future novels. I can see at least two more telegraphed, perhaps three, and I can also see myself picking them up. I’m particularly invested in the potential story about a single mom we meet, for example. However, meeting so many people in such a short space of time made it hard for me to fully invest in Burke and Sophia and their romance. The balance between scene-setting and focusing on the hero and heroine was slightly off and I wish we had met people a bit more slowly in order to get a better grasp as to who they were.
There’s also a side-plot featuring a motorcycle gang that I could have done completely without, unless it’s simply there so set something up for later books. In this one, it kind of goes nowhere.
Meant to Be Mine has a lot to recommend it, especially the exploration of Sophia’s survivor’s guilt, which is never ‘healed’, per se, and is instead recognized as a part of her. So many romances tie things up in bows, but this one allows its characters to keep their pain and simply learn coping mechanisms. The lack of billionaires is also refreshing, I’ll be honest, and once I got my bearings in Eaves, I enjoyed myself.