Overall Grade: All the freaking stars!!!
“There’s so much in life that’s not black and white—so many things that require explanation before one can make accurate inferences. What if we learned to reserve judgment until we knew the whole story? I think I’d like that world.”
Let me begin with a promise, call it a premonition about your read of Jewel E. Ann’s Pieces of A Life: you will go back and re-read the “Prologue” of this book once you reach its end. I may not be Athelinda, the parapsychologist, of this story and the former Life Series duet, but I’m confident that you will go looking for the secrets of this story to carry you into the next book of this duet, Memories of A Life. And I hate to break it to you…you won’t find them. Not yet.
Pieces of A Life is special. It’s an example of Jewel E. Ann’s storytelling. It’s been over two years, and I am still shocked by the books she brings to life. Often, authors have a signature, a voice, and it can become “worn in”. Jewel has a bent for sure, a distinction to her storytelling that sets her apart from the other romance writers. I enter her books, knowing this, remembering it from her last story whether it’s a rom-com, romantic suspense, paranormal-light romance, or contemporary romance. Every. Dang. Time. I’m bowled over by her capacity to find places to inhabit that feel fresh in the world of romance. And I tell her, over and over again.
Pieces of A Life is more of this. Maybe it’s the dual POV that flashes between the past and the present with the past repeating itself in the present. Possibly it’s the insight about normality that infiltrates this story. I hate to use the word “quirky” for Josie, the book’s FMC. It feels reductive and childish to use that word to describe her. She is different from her peers (something that attracts Colten, the MMC), but Josie, in her youth, struggles with it only in contrast to her interest in Colten. He is the yin to her yang or vice versa, and his existence creates a pause in her understanding of herself. Josie sees the world differently from the average; it’s what makes her special to Colten, but it also brings a bit of pain to Josie. This is why she is my favorite character in this book (and the duet). Colten angered me. I didn’t like him for much of this story because, whether he understood it or not, he tries to normalize Josie. And you WANT Josie to exist as “an other.” I love that she’s a talented medical examiner, that she doesn’t want marriage and babies, that she eschews the expectations of both Colten and her parents. She’s decided and brilliant and the most exciting part of Pieces of A Life. Through her, Jewel challenges us to consider the question “what is normal.” She wants us to understand that difference should be celebrated because it’s better and more interesting.
And this story. Oh. My. Word. This story will break your heart one minute, seal the break back up, and leave you speechless and breathless in the end. I won’t tell you the details beyond the ones I proffered above. Just know…Pieces of A Life is an extraordinary book intent on a variety of things: it will make you laugh, it will make you tear up, and it will shock you. In a word, Jewel E. Ann is in the business of titillation, and she does that brilliantly. Buy, buy, buy this book. You will NOT regret it. Oh, and she writes the HECK out of her stories. There. That’s the final reason to grab this book TODAY.
In love and romance,