Author: Indra Vaughn
Released: March 28th 2016
Length: 275 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Oliver and Samuel’s relationship is fairy-tale perfect. They share a gorgeous house in Antwerp, go out with their friends every weekend, and count down the days to their dream wedding. But their happy ending is shattered one late night, and just like that, Ollie is left bereft and alone.The months that follow are long and dark, but slowly Ollie emerges from his grief. He even braves the waters of online dating, though deep down he doesn’t believe he can find that connection again. He doesn’t think to look for love right in front of him: his bisexual friend Thomas, the gentle giant with a kind heart and sad eyes who’s wanted him all along.When Thomas suddenly discovers he has a son who needs him, he’s ill prepared. Ollie opens up his house—Sam’s house—and lets them in. Ollie doesn’t know what scares him more: the responsibility of caring for a baby, or the way Thomas is steadily winning his heart. It will take all the courage he has to discover whether or not fairy tales can happen for real.
Indra Vaughn doesn’t write average romances, M/M or otherwise. She tends to write books that challenge her as a writer and us as readers. They are always somewhat removed from what we’re used to in this genre and it’s clear that the word ‘trope’ simply isn’t in her vocabulary. Therefore, Patchwork Paradise is no simple romance. It is a book primarily about grief and second chances, described in a way that is utterly convincing, frightening and painful.
When Oliver loses the only man he’s ever loved one month before their dream wedding, he feels ready to just give up on life. Through several months of depression and despair, all he can think about is the thing he’s lost so unexpectedly and violently. His friends and family gather around to help, but Ollie has a difficult time imagining any sort of future without his Sam.
As a romance reader, I went into this not knowing what I was about to put myself through. I knew to expect more from Indra, but I had no idea I would be getting a romance only in the final part of the book. Ollie’s grief took time and Vaughn put us through every single stage of it in great detail before she allowed him to love again. If you’re primarily interested in the romance, perhaps this is not a book for you. I likely wouldn’t have picked it up had I known in advance what I was getting myself into. After all, Ollie spends almost all his time grieving for his dead fiancé, and Thomas has so many flings and relationships that they quickly become difficult to track. In a simple romance, this would be a deal-breaker for me because I like my MCs to only be with each other over the course of a story. In this case, however, the romance came as a consequence of healing on both sides and it was a healthy, logical, beautiful conclusion to this book.
There have been many books about the complexities of grief lately, but very few struck me as completely honest and insightful. I’ve said this already about her previous work, but Vaughn truly understands grief and how it can change our perspectives and thoroughly alter us as individuals. Grief causes us to do irrational, inexplicable things, things so out of character that we become unrecognizable to everyone, including ourselves. The only other author I can think of who captured this feeling so perfectly (albeit in YA) is Jandy Nelson in The Sky is Everywhere.
With it’s gorgeous setting (Antwerp, Belgium), unexpected developments and emotions so deep that they’re often difficult to bear, Patchwork Paradise should be every reader’s dream come true. It will put you through so much, but the hope that stems from it will be worth the effort.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.