Ten years ago, Riley’s partner and the love of his life, Richard, was killed in a tragic accident. Riley’s life may have well ended that day as well. First came the alcohol and the casual, meaningless hookups. Next was the severe depression that permeates his every thought. He now hides himself away in his shop and forces himself through every day. He is shocked to feel something, anything, the moment Sonnie walks into his shop.
Sonnie is at the top of his career as the head costume designer at the Queen Victoria Theater. He works hard, moves fast, and always gets what he wants as his needs and goals come first. When he meets Riley, the sadness that comes off of the man has Sonnie’s protective side kicking into high gear. He is also wildly attracted to Riley and longs to get the man into his life and his bed. Sonnie has a tough task ahead of him as Riley’s depression is so profound and his love for his deceased partner is still so very real that Riley may never be able to let him go. If Sonnie can show Riley that life is worth surviving and living, they may both be able to grab hold of a relationship that can drastically change both of their lives.
Piece by Piece is a novel that is set in the world of the West End series. This novel, however, can be read as a stand alone. While both Sonnie and Riley were introduced in the second book, Mask, this is their complete story. This story is also a departure from the style of the first two books in the series as these men are older than past main characters in the series and the story has a much deeper, somber, and emotional tone. This book runs parallel to Mask and the MCs from that book, mostly Penn, do appear in certain scenes. What works so well here is that some of the scenes are familiar from Mask, but are shown from a different perspective. This gives new readers all the information they need, but gives readers that have followed the series a new and unique perspective.
This is not an easy book and there is so much grief. Riley is beyond broken to be numb to everything except for the blinding, searing pain that Richard’s death left. His depression is constant and complete still after so many years have passed. His pain is so visceral that he cannot even see Richard’s sister, who looks remarkably like Richard, without having a full on anxiety attack. The pain does not get erased. When Riley meets Sonnie it gives him something to look forward to, but this is not the book where Riley meets Sonnie and his pain is put to rest. Riley and Richard had an extremely co-dependent relationship and the author does a great job of displaying how fractured Riley is. Sonnie is used to living life for himself. Yet, he really steps up for Riley, becomes his friend, and doesn’t push him even when he knows that Riley has become the love of his life. The author takes us on a downward spiral with Riley as he cannot move past his love and devotion and ultimately guilt over his continued need and desperation over his feelings for the loss of Richard. Although the story is a slow build, it’s the emotional intensity that is the slow burn, not the physical relationship. The intimate scenes between Riley and Sonnie are heated, emotional, and at times healing. They also increase in intensity and desire and become a catalyst for Riley’s shifting pain.
A few things that didn’t work as well were some time line issues that either did not always match up or were not explained well. Also, there was one chapter that ends with Sonnie alluding to something that will happen in the future. The timeline to when the event did happen seemed off and the intensity that the event was first spoken with did not match up to what eventually happened. When Riley does make a life change, it was so drastic and quick. While he definitely needed to make a change, it was out of character for how he was portrayed throughout the entire book.
Ultimately, Piece by Piece is a well written love story. A love story for those that made the past complete and a love story for new lovers that can carry us forward.