Title: Piece by Piece
Author: Teodora Kostova
Narrator: George A. Thorn
Release: 28th October 2015
Length: 8 hrs and 37 mins
Genre: M/M (Contemporary)
Sometimes to reach the surface you have to fall to the bottom first...
For the past ten years, Riley Davis’s life has been overshadowed by the tragic death of his partner. Fluctuating between alcohol induced daze, clinical depression and throwing all his time and effort into his business, Riley doesn’t believe, or even hope, that his life will ever be worth living again.
Until Sonnie Frye drops by his haberdashery shop, changing his life forever.
Sonnie is a man who likes getting what he wants, when he wants it. He’s worked hard to establish himself as Queen Victoria theatre’s chief costume designer, collecting multiple awards – and high-profile clients – along the way. Sonnie is used to putting his needs, goals and desires first, unwilling to compromise his own happiness for anybody else.
Until he meets a handsome shop owner whose eyes are so sad that they immediately tug at Sonnie's heartstrings.
Seeing something he wants, Sonnie is determined to get under Riley's skin and, preferably, into his bed. But he soon discovers the task is not that easy. For the first time in his life, Sonnie may need to put someone else’s needs before his own, and re-evaluate what really matters in life.
Will the two men stand side by side to overcome their differences, and everything else life throws at them? Or will it all become too much to bear, shaking them to their very core, destroying everything they’ve worked so hard to achieve?
Until I listened to this book I never knew what a big business making and designing costumes is for the theatre. This is the first thing that went through my mind when embarking on this story. I always find it so fascinating to read about people, their jobs and daily life as a backdrop. Seriously, romance aside, I’ve been introduced to so many different areas of life with my reading it’s always a surprise to see where I’ll end up next. It’s in this backdrop of costumes, fashion, theatres and shows that we meet Sonnie.
Sonnie is chief designer and not only for the theatre but also a fashion designer in his own right. When Sonnie first walks on stage I thought, yeah, typical superficial, fashionista but then he warmed to me and as the story progresses deeper qualities came into view that I didn’t think he possessed after first introductions. He is upbeat, knows what he wants and goes for it. This could also have been his undoing towards the end of the book but all’s well that ends well.
He is looking for material for a wedding dress he designing for an important client and goes to a haberdashery shop. Yes, I couldn’t believe they still exist today but they do. All kinds of material are to be found in this shop and it almost made me run out, buy a sewing machine and get creative - lol! Anyway, this is where he meets Riley the shop owner. It soons become clear there is an attraction there but Riley doesn’t know quite what to make of Sonnie at first. Riley is withdrawn, lives for his shop, well practically busies himself it so at first I thought he was quite aloof or standoffish. Sonnie has to do the chasing but it isn’t without it’s problems. Then we get to the real root of Riley’s problem, he is still mourning or grieving for the death of his former partner who died in a road traffic accident 10 years before. This grief that Riley has for his former partner is all consuming and not healthy. I first asked myself that this was ten years ago, shouldn’t he be over this by now? I don’t wish to sound unfeeling, of course you always carry the scars, but Riley’s situation and how he deals or I should say isn’t dealing with it isn’t healthy at all. It’s all consuming and suffocating meaning he hasn’t let anyone into his life for ten years, has thrown himself into work and his shop and doesn’t let many people get close. But there is something in Sonnie that he finds endearing and starts to open a small door for him to let him inside.
When Sonnie finds out about how broken Riley is inside he definitely has his work cut out for him. He masters it wonderfully with a great deal of patience, more than I would have for sure and never would have expected from Sonnie. That’s the unexpected I found in Sonnie to be honest. Would never have guessed this when I first met him at the beginning of the book. But as their love develops there are of course many bumps in the road to overcome. Riley needs someone like Sonnie to help him get out of the unhealthy rut he has ensconced himself in. It’s always worse around Christmas time when the accident happened for Riley and he falls into a state of grief and depression that is unbelieveable. I could feel the weight of Riley's grief gradually choking the life force out of him as he spirals down and down. Only due to Sonnie does he manage to pull himself together and not do anything stupid.
And here we have the crux of the matter. Riley’s issues stops him from opening up to Sonnie completely. He is still in love with his former partner and he can’t see a way to let go of this grief and love he has in order to move forward with Sonnie. I suppose this is naturla enough but if it stops you from moving on with your life then it is debilitating. Sonnie has the patience of the saints and the understanding to go with it. I don’t think I would have stuck it out that long. But Sonnie’s love for Riley is strong and believes that together they’ll be alright. Truth is Riley needs professional help and he seeks out a therapist, one he saw at the beginning right after his former partner’s death. Now, when it comes to therapists sometimes I admit of my own volition that I’m always sceptical and this was no exception. I’m not a believer in over analysing things, my own personal view but there you go. At first it seems that she is only making things worse rather than better, my scepticism was proved right at least when he starts to see her. But I guess this is something Riley has to face and work through otherwise he’s never going to be able to be happy 100% with Sonnie. This is what the therapist sees and she is right. Riley does pull through but he needs sometime on his own which he takes in the form of a sabbatical and goes to India for six months. When he comes back he is ready and the story ends beautifully.
Both protagonists are wonderfully written and well balanced. Ms Kostova has taken two characters from opposite ends of the personality spectrum but has managed to mold them into one until they become a ying and yang symbiosis at the end. This is a story about broken pieces and the title is very apt as Riley as to but himself back together piece by piece. I did feel exasperated at times with Riley and just wanted to slap him to pull him out the funk he would get himself in. But Ms Kostova’s writing draws you into this dark place where Riley is and felt it consuming me just like it did Riley., Through this came the understanding for his situation. There are some very poignant moments and right at the end even I had a slight lump in my throat with what these two have achieved. they can now look forward to a bright future together.
So with a story set in the West End of London of course it’s fitting to have a British narrator. However, as I have mentioned before I’m always a little wary about narrators who British or have British accents. If they’re not careful they come across as being too BBC or “posh” which does absolutely nothing for the narration of a contemporary M/M romance. Makes it all a little too unbelievable. Well, I’m very happy to say that George A. thorn got it absolutely right. The accents were natural, no received pronunciation giving it a false or BBC sound to it. The voice of Sonnie I found perfect. If there was criticism then for me personally and my ears at times Riley’s voice characterisation came across as as being a little stupid or dense sounding like an East End thug rather than a manager of a haberdashery business. Again this is only how my ears interpreted at times. But it certainly didn’t detract from the narration as a whole. I would definitely listen to other books narrated by Mr Thorn.
Meet Teodora Kostova
Hi, my name is Teodora and I live in London with my husband and my son. I've been writing ever since I can remember, but it became my full time job in 2010 when I decided that everything else I've tried bores me to death and I have to do what I've always wanted to do, but never had the guts to fully embrace. I've been a journalist, an editor, a personal assistant and an interior designer among other things, but as soon as the novelty of the new, exciting job wears off, I always go back to writing. Being twitchy, impatient, loud and hasty are not qualities that help a writer, because I have to sit alone, preferably still, and write for most of the day, but I absolutely love it. It's the only time that I'm truly at peace and the only thing I can do for more than ten minutes at a time - my son has a bigger attention span than me.
When I'm procrastinating, I like to go to the gym, cook Italian meals (and eat them), read, listen to rock music, watch indie movies and True Blood re-runs. Or, in the worst case scenario, get beaten at every Wii game by a very inventive kid.