Justin is slowly recovering from the devastating accident that left him with severe injuries and amnesia. It has been a long road already, but he and Dallas are both thrilled that Justin has recovered a memory of Dallas, even if it is just a fleeting moment out of their five years together. Dallas sees progress in Justin every day, and it is clear his cognitive abilities and his physical strength are slowly returning. Justin is even able to return to the shop for a little bit each day, getting him out of the house and doing something that makes him feel useful. Justin is also beginning to feel an interest in sex again, and the men enjoy those first steps into rekindling their sexual relationship.
But even as Justin is improving, Dallas worries about the financial pressure they are under. Justin’s care and their lost truck should be covered by insurance, but no one is returning Dallas’ calls and the bills are piling up. He doesn’t want to burden Justin with worrying about money, and Justin isn’t cognitively in a place where he can really focus on such things. But Dallas is feeling the stress and, combined with looking out for Justin, it is a lot to handle. But Dallas is thrilled that he and Justin have gotten a second chance after an injury that could have split them apart for good. Whatever happens, as long as he has Justin by his side, Dallas will feel complete.
Pieces of Me is the second book in N.R. Walker’s Missing Pieces trilogy and this picks up immediately after the first book ends. You are going to want to read these in order, as it really is a long, continuous story. This series is an intimate look inside a relationship struck by tragedy, but where the bonds between the men are strong enough to pull them through. The books give a detailed view of Justin’s recovery and how his accident impacts both Dallas and him over the long term. Here we see Justin regaining more of his physical strength and memories, and being able to be a part of the shop again. We also see him regain a bit of interest in sex, and there are some really sweet moments between Dallas and Justin as they explore it. There is such a lovely bond between these men and the strength of their relationship is what carries the story. As I reader, I could just feel the love and connection between them, and I rejoiced along with them with each incremental step forward. It is a really interesting storytelling style and it gives the book an intensity and depth of emotion by really bringing the reader right into the pages with the men.
That said, I do think this story suffered somewhat from being so character focused with not enough plot. While I think this style really worked well in the first book when we are getting to know the men and learning about the aftermath of the accident, here things felt sort of slow. There just didn’t feel like enough happening to carry a whole book. We do have a conflict surrounding their finances, and we see it sprinkled in here and there as Dallas has some stress about it. But it is only occasionally discussed and neatly resolved by the end. Aside from some focus on Justin being interested in sex, much of the book is just the day-to-day, incremental changes that happen. I think it is important that Walker does show that this is a slow process, so it feels true to the story. But we get a lot of similar days of the guys waking, Dallas making toast and coffee while Justin showers, Justin napping, the guys eating dinner, etc. So while I found myself emotionally caught up in Justin and Dallas’ journey, I did feel like this story was slower than I wanted and didn’t have the same intensity as the first book.
I’ll also throw in there that Dallas is practically perfect in every way. He is as patient as any human could be and more. He knows just what Justin needs, he rarely makes a misstep, and he is always eager to put Justin first without a second thought. Dallas never gets angry or frustrated. Even when he does get a bit upset, it is mild and over quickly. I love him, but do find him somewhat over idealized. I think it would be nice to have a little more time spent on developing his character beyond just “incredibly supportive boyfriend.”
All that said, I am still really enjoying this series and find myself very absorbed in Dallas and Justin’s journey. I am curious to see where things go in the final book in the trilogy.