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.
As someone who lost their life partner, I found Oliver’s struggles in the aftermath of Samuel’s death to be absolutely heart wrenching. I actually read Patchwork Paradise over two weeks ago and was unable to write my review when I finished it because the emotions the book dredged up were too fresh. I spent over half the book with tears streaming down my face. There was no tissue count on this one because for page after page and chapter after chapter, my face was wet more often than it wasn’t. Honestly, I have no idea how sad most people will find this book to be – at least the first half of it. I just know that for me, I saw so much of myself in Ollie that I couldn’t not cry as he tried to put one foot in front of the other and find a reason to keep living once his whole world was shattered. Obviously, Sam’s death was not a surprise as the author reveals it in the blurb. What was a surprise, was just how well Vaughn conveyed the suffocation one feels after such a loss. As hard as it was to read emotionally, I couldn’t put the book down because I knew that eventually, everything would work out.
Fortunately for Ollie, he had a strong support system who forced him to carry on – note, I did not say move on, because Ollie’s friends were also close to Sam, so they felt his loss too. Slowly, Ollie does begin to return to the world and discovers that his friend, Thomas, has held a bit of a torch for him for years. Not surprisingly, Ollie’s initial reaction is to refuse any kind of romantic entanglement because he cannot bear the loss of their friendship should things go awry. But over time, Thomas begins to take up residence in Ollie’s thoughts and heart, and when Ollie finally gets to a place where he realizes that he might want more, Thomas’s past intrudes and he goes from being single to being a single dad overnight, thus slamming the breaks on a potential relationship between the two men. While Ollie understands Thomas’s decision for them not to date, Ollie refuses to let his friend handle the situation alone.
I loved how Thomas’s sudden fatherhood gave Ollie the chance to be there for Thomas, much like Thomas had been for him after Sam’s death. Was it smooth sailing after that? Of course not, Ollie had never entertained the idea of being a father because Sam hadn’t wanted children. Yet as Ollie spent more and more time with Milo, he could envision the three of them together as a family. As expected, things go sideways for a while between Ollie and Thomas. The added stress that Sam’s father causes regarding Sam leaving Ollie the house didn’t help the situation and pissed me off beyond all belief. That may have actually been what stopped my tears – the total disregard Sam’s father had for his son’s wishes, the way he tried to manipulate Ollie into disregarding Sam’s wishes, how it was motivated by greed rather than grief, and that it destroyed the loving relationship Ollie had with what were to be his in-laws. Does Ollie get a happy ending? Of course, but what it looks like…well, you’ll have to read Patchwork Paradise to find out for yourself. Just make sure you keep the tissues handy.
This is a difficult review to write because I’m not sure all of what to say about it. I don’t want to give anything away, so let’s see if I can do this.
First off – have hankies nearby. Seriously. All the way through! Yep, you heard me right. The pain isn’t just at the beginning. Ollie has a horrible 1.5 years. First, the love of his life (they’ve known one another since they were 10 and had been boyfriends since they were 16) is murdered right in front of him one month before their wedding. Then he has to deal with getting over him. As if that’s not bad enough? His man’s parents who always acted like Ollie’s parents growing up, suddenly want the house and he has to fight for it. And if that’s not bad enough? His cloister of friends starts to fall apart. One begins to wonder if Samuel was the man who kept them all together.
Expect tears. Expect HEAVY amounts of angst all the way through. And I do mean heavy amounts. There’s a history with Ollie and Thomas he doesn’t know about but when he finds out, well… let’s just say the first half of the book is heart-rending. The second part was overflowing with angst. Back and forth and back and forth. While I understood some of Thomas’s reticence, I also wanted to box him upside the head at times.
Not to mention Ollie. I actually think Thomas had it right when he brought up the question of why Ollie was holding on to the house. Was it right or wrong? Who’s to say. And as I never get attached to places, I definitely am not going to judge Ollie’s choice.
But even with the heavy angst and the tears, I did enjoy the story. But the ending I have to admit did not feel right. It wasn’t an HEA. And it didn’t even feel like an HFN. Not really. I’m not sure if the couple will stay together after it. And that doesn’t leave me feeling positive.
I honestly think there was too much going on. Ollie & Samuel. Ollie & Thomas. Thomas & Milo. Ollie vs Sam’s parents. Cleo and Inman. There were so many storylines going on. And I’m not sure we needed the constant Cleo and Inman drama considering there was so much already surrounding Ollie.
So yes. There is a lot going on in this book.
I like Vaughn’s works and I did like this book. But too much angst, too many storylines, and an ending that didn’t leave me satisfied gives it 4 stars.