Further to Fall was a stunning debut from this author, and I didn't think I'd love another book by her any more than I do FtF... but I was wrong. Beautifully Broken Pieces is about Taylor, Carter's best friend, whom we met in FtF. Taylor is a woman in mourning for the loss of her mother. When she agrees to go to the quiet town of Sutter Lake with Carter, Austin and Liam for a desperately needed getaway, she finds herself soothed by the peace she finds there so much that she decides to spend a year living there. Her plan is to keep to herself as much as possible and let her broken heart heal.
That all goes out the window when she meets the son of the people she's renting her cabin from. Deputy Chief Walker Cole is a good man with a loving family, and he understands grief, too - his high school sweetheart, Julie, was murdered a decade previously and her killer never caught. He's been dating Caitlin for a few months, but she doesn't spark a fire deep inside him like Taylor does. Try as he might to deny it, no woman ever has. He ends the relationship with Caitlin once he realises it's not going anywhere and she's a lot more serious about it than he is. Caitlin doesn't take the news well, which makes for some awkward encounters.
Taylor just wants to be left alone. She doesn't need or want anyone to be close to her, because everyone she loves leaves her eventually, whether it's by choice or not. She's struggling to cope with the loss of her mom, who was her best friend, and just getting through each day is hard. I found Taylor's grief incredibly painful to read, because I have recently lost my own mother and I could relate to it in every single way.
But the Cole family won't let Taylor become a hermit, and she eventually relents to joining them for meals and outings. Apart from Walker, his parents and his meddling but highly amusing grandmother, there is also his sister and nephew. They all adore Taylor and she eventually lets them into her heart, despite her repeated attempts to push them away.
Taylor doesn't want to be attracted to Walker, but she is, and he starts to break down the wall she has so carefully put up around her heart. It's a gorgeously slow burning relationship, with each of them cautious about giving their heart to the other, given their pasts. But they eventually can no longer deny how they feel, and soon enough they're spending every night together.
While Walker is deliriously happy with his personal life, professionally it's a different matter: girls have started going missing and are turning up dead, and they all look like Julie. It looks as though her killer is back again, and Walker is determined to catch him. Julie's death is the reason he became a cop, so no other family would have to go through what he did if he can help it.
Both Walker and Taylor find themselves targeted by this killer, and what happens to them will leave you holding your breath. Will they get the happy ending they both so richly deserve? You're just going to have to read this book to find out.
Catherine's writing is beautifully lyrical. She has a way with words that is just magical; her books are so easy to read and suck you in from the beginning, so that you're wanting to drop everything else and just finish it. And when you do, you're sad because you just want more. Beautifully Broken Pieces deals with some dark topics - death, grief, murder - which could have made for a very heavy book, but Catherine is a gifted enough writer to ensure that every single word is just perfect. Although emotionally painful to read in some places, there's enough light - with well-rounded, well written characters and a romance that is both deep and a little raunchy (which I loved!) - to ensure it never drags or lets you become too mired in the darkness.
This book is and will remain one of my favourite romances of all time. If you consider yourself a romance fan, you need to read Beautifully Broken Pieces.