Olivia Warren used to be a normal girl with a bright future. But on one fated night, everything changed.
Hiding the scars of her past up her sleeves, Olivia transfers her enrollment from Columbia University to The College of Charleston, determined to pursue her own dreams for the first time in her life.
She intends to allow herself a bit of alone time to heal... that is, until she meets Preston.
Preston is best friends with her roommate, completely hot, and off-limits. But the chemistry between them is instantaneous—and as the pair begins to spend more time with one another, their feelings for each other build into something undeniable, something powerful enough to heal Olivia’s deepest scars.
Olivia tries to put her own past behind her and trust Preston, but she discovers that his past might be more present than she ever bargained for…
"Olivia and Preston are going to tug on readers’ heartstrings in all the best ways.”—*Jay Crownover, New York Times Bestselling Author
"Pieces of Olivia is both heartbreaking and hopeful, with the perfect amount of angst and sexiness. A must read!"—Monica Murphy, New York Times Bestselling Author
“This book is a perfect example of why I continue to come back to the New Adult genre. It has complex characters and a story that wouldn't allow me to put the book down until I finished.” – Fiction Fare
“Pick this book up for a deeply emotional read.”—Night Owl Romance (Top Pick)
“If you want to be floored by a book and become so involved in the story that the outside world melts away; read Pieces of Olivia. It is one emotional disaster and I loved it with all of my broken heart. So read it.”—Bookraptured
Melissa West lives in a suburb of Atlanta, GA with her husband and daughters. She holds a B.A. in Communication Studies and a M.S. in Graphic Communication, both from Clemson University.
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Someone should warn you that move-in day at a college is the last day you should actually try to move into your dorm. I stared down the line of girls waiting to get on the elevators, all of them with stacks of suitcases and boxes and microwave-refrigerator combos, which should have already been in our rooms, but evidently there was a shortage this year. I eyed my own set of suitcases and the line again. I could drag them up the three flights of stairs to the third floor faster than I could get there waiting in that line.
I tilted the heaviest one on its wheels, tossed the second on top, and started for the stairwell door around the corner. There was no line there, surprise-surprise, so I took my time pulling my suitcases through the door and lifting them one step at a time up the stairs. By the time I reached the third floor, my face was dripping with sweat and I found myself wishing I’d taken my parents’ offer to help me move in.
At the time, all I could think about was their sad expressions as they asked me for the hundredth time if I was sure. Sure I wanted to ditch Columbia for the College of Charleston. Sure I wanted to live in a dorm on campus (forget that all freshmen were required to live on campus). Sure I wanted to have a roommate in said dorm instead of living alone. The list went on and on and on. They didn’t understand. I couldn’t live that life anymore. Every part of it brought back memories I couldn’t handle. I needed a change. And not just a change in geography. I needed a complete change—different town, different people, different me.
I needed to be able to grab bananas from the produce section without running into someone who knew and getting that sad look as he or she asked how I was doing. I mean, how did they think I was doing? I hated pity. I hated the long look people gave you and the slow headshake that said poor little you. I knew sadness. It was a longtime friend of mine now. I didn’t need reminders of how closely it clung to me every time I went to the grocery store.
I heaved my suitcase through the third-floor door and glanced around for room numbers. I was 3-F and my roommate was some chick from Gator Town: Gainesville, Florida. I pictured a surfer girl, complete with sun-bleached blond hair and bronzed skin, who used words liketotally and awesome as though they were worth gold each time you said them.
I tugged on my UPF 55 shirt, glad that I’d been smart enough to pick up a few. Long sleeves at the beach in August would cause a few looks, and I wasn’t prepared to explain the real reason for them. But with UPF shirts, I could just claim a crazy interest in sun protection. Plus with the tiny shorts I paired with them, I felt sure I could go about without too many questions. Or so I hoped. Thank God my legs weren’t scarred. Otherwise I’d have had to go to college at some snow lift in Colorado, and I hated cold weather.
I reached the hall for rooms 3-A to 3-H. Most of the doors were open, and I tried not to peek inside them as I passed. The hall was completely alive with excitement and commotion. I wondered if it would always be like this or if there were study hours or something. I finally came to the door for 3-F, which was closed, no sounds coming from inside. I grabbed the knob and turned, relieved that Gator-girl wasn’t there yet, until I flicked on the light and heard a grumble from across the room.
“Damn, shut the light. I’m working off a buzz here.”
I turned around to see a guy in the bed on the left side of the room, a white sheet tangled around him, exposing his bare chest. My eyes roamed over him, and for the first time, I understood how Bella could be attracted to Edward’s paleness. This guy’s skin could rival a vampire’s for sure, but instead of looking like it belonged to a hospital patient, it was startlingly creamy with just a hint of a golden undertone. His shaggy brownish-red hair scattered in a mess across the pillow, and although I knew I should ask a myriad of questions, I just found myself staring.
His eyes peeked open and he tossed one of his arms over them to block out the light. “You must be Olivia,” he said, his voice thick from sleep.
I waited. Hot or not, I didn’t know this guy. He could be here to steal my virtue . . . or the virtue I had two years ago, but still.
He climbed out of bed, a pair of low-hanging navy pajama pants with little yellow characters the only thing on his flawless body. I took them in before glancing back at his face. “Tweety Bird?”
“Goldfish. It’s an inside joke.”
I nodded. “Ah.”
He brushed his hair out of his eyes. It was the sort of hair you wanted to touch just to see if it felt as perfect as it looked. “So . . .”
“So . . .” I smiled. “Are you going to tell me who you are and why the hell you’re in my dorm room?”
He smirked. “I see you’re not as small town as you look. Where are you from?” He reached behind him for a T-shirt thrown across a desk chair. He had that deep Southern drawl that reminded you of warm syrup on pancakes, slow and delicious and entirely too tempting.
I considered lying, but that would only delay the inevitable. “Westlake,” I said, bracing myself for his reaction. What happened never made national news—thank God—but everyone in a two-state radius knew and felt inclined to ask as soon as they heard where I was from.
He glanced up at me before slipping the shirt on, and I prepared for the question, the change in his tone, but instead he said, “I take it back. You are small town. Rich. But still, small town.”
For a moment, I was too startled to respond. I had yet to meet anyone who heard where I was from and didn’t launch into questions too personal for a friend let alone a stranger. I opened my mouth to remind him that (a) Charleston wasn’t exactly New York City and (b) he still hadn’t answered my question, when the door behind me burst open and a tiny girl rushed in. She had the look of one of those flyers on a cheerleading squad—five-foot nothing, blond hair in loose pigtails that hung over her shoulders, and dressed in just a tank top and jean shorts.
Jean shorts. Trisha. My chest constricted as memories poured in, and I had to take a step back so I could breathe. Trisha hated jean shorts.
“I’m so sorry! So sorry!” the girl said, her tone entirely too high for such a small space. Gator-girl, I presumed. “This isn’t what it looks like.” Then she turned on the guy. “I told you eight a.m. exit, dude. It’s twelve-thirty!”
I started to tell her I didn’t care regardless. I hated that stereotypical bullshit, where guys could hook up with whomever and be cool, but when a girl did the same thing, she was a slut. I decided it wasn’t the time.
The guy shrugged. “What do you want from me? I was drunker than I thought. Happens to the best of us. Besides, look at her. She’s cool with it. Aren’t you?”
Both of their gazes fell on me. “Um . . . should I come back later? I can just . . .” I started for the door when the girl reached out to stop me.
“Don’t go! Please. I’m Kara. And this asshat is Preston Riggs, my best friend. Well, he usedto be my best friend.” She glared at him. “He was supposed to be out this morning before you arrived, but clearly”—she motioned to him—“he’s got issues with time. Among other things.”
Preston slid into a pair of Rainbow sandals and ran his hands over his face before stretching his arms out wide. “I take offense. I pride myself on punctuality. If there was ever a—”
“Out. Before I call your mom.”
Preston looked at her. “Like I’m afraid of my—” Kara pulled out her cell, and he threw up his hands. “Okay, okay. I’m gone.” His eyes swept from her to me, giving me a slow once-over, before winking and heading for the door. “Nice meeting you, Small Town.”
And just like that, he was gone.
An hour later, I knew that my roommate was Kara Marcus and that she had only recently moved to Gainesville. Previously, she’d grown up in upstate South Carolina.
“So that’s how you know Preston?” I asked, hoping I didn’t sound too eager. I was curious about the guy. More curious than I cared to admit even to myself.
She tilted her head, as though her mind was somewhere else, then looked back at me. “Yeah, something like that. Our parents are good friends. We pretty much grew up together. I’ve known him forever.”
I focused on putting the rest of my clothes away. All long-sleeve shirts and sweaters. It had taken a surprisingly small amount of time for me to unpack, and in looking at my wardrobe cabinet, I realized in my desperation to get away from home, I’d under-packed.
Kara walked up beside me. “That’s all you brought?”
We stared at my barren cabinet for another solid minute in silence. Anything I said about it would lead to more questioning, and the last thing I wanted was to let on what a freak I’d become over the last couple months—right on the first day I met her. She’d discover it soon enough, no doubt, but I hoped to get a week in first.
“Well, this settles it,” Kara said, her tone forlorn.
I glanced sideways at her. “Settles what? I know I’m not . . .” What exactly? I sighed heavily, but then her face lit up and a smile spread across her face.
“We’re going shopping. I’ve been dying to peruse King’s Street, but Preston refuses to shop with me. Plus, he’s still working his summer job, so all he wants to do when he’s off is fish. Which, hello, I love him, but I refuse to clean a damn fish.”
“Fishing, huh? I didn’t picture him as the outdoorsy type. I mean, not that I’ve pictured him, of course.”
Her smile widened. “Of course. So, are you in?”
I grinned back. “I’m in.”
We left Liberty Street Residence Hall, our dorm, for King’s Street. The dorm itself was every bit the beauty of the rest of the city. White and tan exterior. Clean lines. Inside, there was a common area with floor-to-ceiling windows, which allowed the sun to shine through, and I knew I would spend many free hours there, pretending to study, while actually daydreaming about what my life could be . . . or could have been.
The College of Charleston was the fifth college that I had visited, and immediately it had become my favorite. My parents groaned when I mentioned it as an option. The other four were all Ivy League. But even they couldn’t argue with the huge oak trees and cobblestone streets and buildings and houses that oozed history. The city had an air to it, an elegance that reminded me of women in old movies. Vivien Leigh. Audrey Hepburn. The actresses in old movies were graceful and beautiful, yet controlled. I had always loved old movies, but now that my life had taken a sharp left turn, I found myself mesmerized by them, eager to learn how the actresses looked so poised while their lives were in turmoil. I tried to emulate that strength. And I was ready to take on my first shopping experience with Kara as the perfect opportunity to test my newfound pretend strength.
Liberty was located just off King’s Street, which was basically the Rodeo Drive of Charleston. All the best shops were there, plus a mix of restaurants, which meant you could make an afternoon out of shopping without having to leave to go eat. It was like a mall with a food court—only nicer.
We decided to walk the street, eager to be outside, even though in August it was every bit of ninety degrees and the humidity would have driven Trisha crazy. She had the sort of curly hair that refused to be contained, especially in high humidity. I swallowed a lump in my throat at the thought of her and pushed on.
“So, do you have a favorite store? Like those shorts. What are they?”
We had been shopping for about an hour, and Kara’s arms were now loaded down with bags, but I had yet to buy anything. I glanced down at my shorts, trying to remember where Mom had gotten them. “J.Crew, I think.” Kara nodded slowly, which I took to mean she didn’t approve. J.Crew was about as basic as it came. I used to have a definitive style, something that would have impressed Kara. Now, I had my hair pulled into a high ponytail, had next to no makeup on, the J.Crew shorts, and the UPF shirt, which, let’s face it, was only meant to be worn on the water, not every day.
Kara tilted her head in deep thought, then snapped her fingers and said, “I know! Urban Outfitters. That’s totally your style. Do you know it?”
Oh, I knew it. It should be called Cool Clothes That Cost a Fortune. Normally, I wouldn’t care about costs. My life had afforded me exposure to designer brands, but now that I was here, doing the exact opposite of what my parents wanted, they had put me on a strict monthly allowance to teach me “the value of money.” Basically, they wanted me to suffer my decision. Knowing my dad, I would only have enough money to buy food and little else.
“I don’t know if—”
“Hey! It’s Jim ’N Nick’s. Are you hungry?”
I grinned. I could see already that Kara was one of those people whose mind moved at warp speeds, never stopping for you to catch up. “What’s Jim ’N Nick’s?”
“It’s BBQ. Good stuff. Plus, I can get us free food.”
Free sounded great.
Kara opened the door to a small restaurant teeming with music and chatter. The bar was crowded with people screaming at some baseball game on the wide-screen. There were framed black-and-white photos all over the walls, giving the place a cool and casual vibe.
Kara slipped into a booth, pulled out a set of menus from behind the ketchup and barbeque sauce bottles, and passed one over to me. “I’m told the cheddar biscuits are worth the extra pounds they’ll add to your thighs.”
I laughed. “Told by who?”
“Small Town,” a deep voice said. “Fancy seeing you again so soon.”
My gaze drifted up and straight into Preston’s startling blue eyes. He had the sort of blue eyes that looked like the water in the Gulf of Mexico, crystal blue and so beautiful all you could do was stare in wonder. I managed to glance down before I embarrassed myself.
“You work here?”
“One of his many jobs. I told you I could get free food,” Kara said with a grin.
Preston slipped a pen behind his ear and pressed his palms into the table as he leaned forward. “Until classes start on Monday. I worked here during the summer so I could stay local. My parents refused to cover me if I wasn’t taking classes. Something about responsibility.”
“Yeah, I know what you mean,” I grumbled. “I’ll probably have to find a part-time job at some point. I’ll be lucky if I can buy peanut butter and tuna on the allowance my parents gave me.”
“Well, I can give you a rec if you want to apply here. The staff’s cool and the owner stays out of your business.”
I glanced back up, and immediately felt my cheeks flush. Why was he having this effect on me? “I’ll think about it. Thanks.”
He pulled out a tablet from his back pocket and the pen from behind his ear to take our order. Kara ordered us each pulled pork sandwiches and a dozen of the cheddar biscuits, and then before Preston left he eyed my shirt. “Nice UPF. I own a thousand myself. Hate the feel of sunscreen when I’m on the water.”
“What’s a UPF?” Kara asked, but Preston had already left to put in our order. She focused back on me, her eyebrows raised in question.
“Oh, it’s the shirt. It has sun protection. That’s all.” I glanced away, suddenly embarrassed. I didn’t want to draw attention to the shirt. Or why I was wearing it. “So, I didn’t even ask you what your major was.”
Kara’s face lit up. “Psychology. I want to be a clinical psychologist.”
“That’s awesome. Do you have to do internships and stuff, then?”
Her eyebrows drew together. “I don’t really know, honestly. I have a crazy workload this semester. I’ll be lucky to survive my classes, forget adding an internship to the mix. Maybe I could work it in next summer. Anyway, what about you?”
I opened my mouth to say law, something I had said so often over the last two years, it had become programmed. An auto-response. I shook my head, clearing the thought. “English. I plan to specialize in Comparative Literature. I want to be a professor some day.”
Preston came back with a basket full of tiny muffin-like rolls. “Famous cheddar biscuits?” I asked, eyeing them.
“The best.” He slid in beside Kara. “Care if I join ya’ll? My shift just ended.” He looked from her to me.
“What, no Alexis?” Kara asked, elbowing him in the side.
Preston leaned back in the booth and glanced over his shoulder. “Nah. I told you. That was a summer thing. Summer’s over.”
Kara rolled her eyes. “Is this the stupid three-month rule or are you dating girls by season now?”
He ran his hands through his hair. “I’m not dating any of them. I’m hanging out with them.”
“So they’re friends?” she pressed, and I could tell this was becoming a hot-button topic for them. Clearly she didn’t agree with how he handled girls, and I didn’t blame her. I’d known plenty of guys like him before and was finding it increasingly difficult to keep my mouth shut on just what I thought of said guys.
Preston sighed. “Why are we talking about this?”
Kara’s expression softened. “Because I want you to be happy. I want you to settle down and—”
“Right, because that worked out so well the last time.” The look Preston gave her sent chills down my spine. I looked away, wishing I could disappear so they could hash out whatever the tension was between them.
Kara cleared her throat. “Just stop introducing them to me, then. I’m tired of fielding calls for you on my cell. It’s bullshit.”
“Fine. No more introductions. Can we please talk about something else now? Like Small Town here and why she’s looking at me like I’ve murdered a puppy.” The anger on his face disappeared, and he flashed me a mocking grin. The same mocking grin he’d shown off that morning. Clearly, it was his trademark smirk. I couldn’t help rolling my eyes.
“It’s Olivia, Mr. Smooth. And not that it’s any of my business, but I agree with Kara.”
Kara crossed her arms and grinned, and just like that, all the tension from before was gone. “See, I knew I liked you already.”
Preston leaned forward, holding my gaze. “Is that right? And what exactly are you agreeing with Kara on? You should know that she’s two shades past crazy. Medication and all. I’d think twice before agreeing with her on anything if I were you.”
I adjusted in my seat at the mention of medication. And crazy.
Kara smacked his arm. “B-Complex doesn’t count as medication, you asshole.”
“It’s a mood enhancer.” He raised his eyebrows. “You tell me. Sounds medication-ish to me.”
I laughed, relieved the conversation didn’t delve into actual medication . . . or reasons to be on it. “So what? You’re anti-vitamin now, too?”
“What do you mean, ‘too’?”
I shrugged. “Well, the girl thing. Clearly you’re one of those. Which is fine, but I agree with Kara. If you’re going to do it, don’t rope Kara in. Nothing is more annoying than an obsessive girl. God, I would die if I had to deal with that crap all the time.”
“I know, right?” Kara said.
“Wait a second,” Preston said. “Since when is it a problem to hang out with someone? I’m not making a marriage proposal every time I go out.”
“Of course, but you shouldn’t screw them if you just plan to ditch.” The words were out before I could register what I’d said, and then all I could do was close my eyes in complete and utter humiliation. “I didn’t mean— It isn’t—” Oh. My. God.
Preston leaned back and draped his arm around the back of the booth behind Kara. “I see. So you’ve got me pegged, huh, Small Town?”
“No. I shouldn’t have—”
“It’s fine. Really. Look, you two enjoy your lunch. I’m sure there are some girls around campus I need to go corrupt.” He squeezed Kara’s shoulder, before heading for the door.
As soon as he was out of sight, I covered my eyes with my hands and released a long breath. “God. I didn’t mean to say that. I’m so sorry.” I glanced up at Kara to see her picking at a biscuit.
“It’s all right,” she said. “But it’s not what you think. He’s a good guy. He just refuses to date anyone. He’s . . . There’s . . .” She drifted off and I could tell there was a story there. A story she wasn’t comfortable discussing.
I decided to change the subject, not wanting to push her away by being too critical of someone close to her. “What about you? Are you dating anyone?”
Her face dropped. “Yes. His name is Ethan. We’ve been going out for about six months. He went to the University of Georgia, and I came here. We’re trying to do the long-distance thing, but it’s hard. It’s only been a few days and I’m already . . .” Her eyes flickered to mine and then away; fresh tears were threatening to rain down from them. She wiped her cheek and smiled. “Enough guy talk. Let’s hit Urban Outfitters, then if we have time, the Market. I’ve been dying to go to the Market.”
I smiled over at her. “The Market sounds perfect.”
Kara and I spent the next three hours popping into more shops along King’s Street and then perusing the handmade goods in the Market. Baskets. Jewelry. Jams. Soaps. It was amazing to see these people, their work, the pureness of it. I found myself studying them, wondering what their lives were like outside of the Market. Wondering if today’s sales determined whether they could pay their bills or eat. Some had an easiness to them that was just part of Charleston’s character, but others were more desperate, almost begging for us to buy their products.
My mother would hate it there. She would accuse the people of lacking civility, of being one step above street beggars. In truth, she hated the poor. She was just too much of a lady to admit it.
So maybe it was to get back at her. Or maybe it was just because I felt more at home there than on King’s Street. But I ended up buying three times as much in the Market as I did in any of the other shops, and by the time we made it back to Liberty, I had a new purse, two woven baskets, and numerous earrings and necklaces, all handmade. I felt a sense of pride putting my money into those things instead of the shops on King’s that held no culture.
I hung up my new clothes in my wardrobe cabinet, which was still bare compared to Kara’s, and wiped down my face with a towel, eager for a shower.
“So, we’re going, right?” Kara asked as she put away the last of her new things.
I hesitated. Some guy downstairs had given us a flyer about a party in West Ashley tonight. Supposedly, it was an annual thing at an apartment building there. “Everyone will be there,” he had said. I had no idea who “everyone” included, but by the look on Kara’s face, I could tell she wanted us to go.
I fiddled with the flowy top I was trying to hang up, but it kept slipping off the hanger. “I don’t know . . .” I hadn’t been to a party since the one that created my scars, and I wasn’t sure I was ready. What if I broke down? What if I had flashbacks or something? I mean, that happened. People who suffered what I had suffered were irrevocably fucked up. That much I knew. But I had just now started growing close to Kara, and I hated to push away the only friend I had made so far.
“Come on. It’ll be a blast. I’ll see if Preston can drive us.”
My head snapped up. “Preston’s going?”
She grinned. “I’ll ask him if you’re in.”
I shrugged, faking indifference. “Whatever. We can go.”
“Yay! This is going to be so much fun. Now, what to wear?” She paused in front of her open wardrobe, then said, “I’m going to take a shower. I think better in the shower.”
I nodded, fighting the urge to laugh. Kara might be the only person in the world who needed to shower so she could think through her outfit.
As soon as I heard the bathroom door click, I pulled out my laptop and logged into my Gmail account. I typed “T” email@example.com auto-populated in the “To” field. I stared at the name. I had experienced so much here already, and though a part of me was having a great time, another part felt . . . guilty. I began to type, unsure of what to say.
I will never forget our tour of Columbia. You had asked where I would go to college if I could choose anywhere, be anything. The question was so odd because there was bare honestly in it. On the surface, we were supposed to be leaving our parents for our own paths, but instead I was following my father’s and you your mother’s. I remember the seriousness in your eyes and knew that you had about as much interest in Columbia as I did.
We walked in silence for several minutes and then out of the blue you said, “The College of Charleston. I’d go there.” I smiled at you because it was the very thing I was about to say. We both loved Charleston. Always had.
I moved in today and I should have been ecstatic, but all I could think about was how I was here, doing what we dreamt of doing, without you. I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry.
P.S. I know you won’t reply. I know. But I had to write. I miss you.
Nightfall at Liberty brought on a whole new world of noise. Most of the rooms were open, music blaring, and Kara insisted on stopping by every one of them.
By the time we reached our across-the-hall neighbors, Kara had drank two beers and downed several shots. Her voice, which was already high-pitched, now sounded like she was intentionally trying to mimic a five-year-old.
“I’m Olivia,” I said as they called for us to come in. They had already decorated the walls with various posters. Some of iconic cities, others of popular bands. It made Kara’s and my room look boring in comparison.
“I’m Sarah,” a tall red-haired girl replied. She had the distinct look of a soccer player—tall with a strong build. “And that’s Rena.” She pointed to the dark-skinned girl grabbing Kara a shot.
“You want one?” Rena asked. I shook my head. I wanted to tell Kara to slow down, but I barely knew her. I didn’t know her tolerance, and I didn’t want to come across as motherly.
“We’re heading to a party in West Ashley,” Kara said. “Want to come?”
Sarah’s eyes sparked with excitement. “Definitely! When are you leaving?”
Kara glanced down at her bare wrist. “Oh. I’m not sure. Olivia?”
I smiled. “Preston’s meeting us out front at ten-thirty.”
Sarah turned around to look at the large metal wall clock they had hung between their two desks and shrieked. “That’s in twenty minutes! But we’re so there. Meet you at the elevators in fifteen?”
She and Rena ushered us out of their room so they could get ready. Once back in ours, I grabbed a few bottles of water from our refrigerator and passed one over to Kara. “Here, drink. It’s going to be a thousand degrees at the party. You don’t want to get dehydrated.” I opened my own bottle, hoping she wouldn’t take the gesture as me trying to rein her in. She eyed the bottle and then me.
“You sound like Preston.” She reluctantly took the water and drank half of it before setting it on her desk. I studied her face, her demeanor, her responses. She was already at a level two.
Trisha and I used to assign levels to our drunkenness. Level one was a light buzz. You could still talk, walk, etc. Level two was a push toward sloppy. Your words were more slurred, and everything was suddenly funny. Level three was the point where your memory started to waver, and you could possibly do something embarrassing or something you might regret. We called this the danger zone. Level four we just called gone. All motor skills were gone, all sense of control gone. Everything—gone.
Kara was at a two and we hadn’t left the dorm yet. That didn’t bode well for the rest of the night.
“Okay, I need a beat to get ready,” she said. “What do you want to hear?”
I bit back a laugh as she tried to get her iPod into the slot on her dock station, and then suddenly the soundtrack to High School Musical blasted from her speakers. Her eyes rounded out in shock. “Oh my God.”
“Uh, Kara . . . what is that?”
She fumbled with the dial, trying to get it to turn off, her cheeks turning redder by the second. “Nothing, nothing. My little sister must have been playing with my iPod. It isn’t—”
I walked over and clicked the iPod to turn it off, a giant smile on my face. “You’re into Zac Efron, aren’t you?”
“No. Don’t be ridiculous. He’s—no. I’m—no.”
I crossed my arms and smirked, causing Kara to toss her hands in the air. “Fine. Fine! But look at him! I can’t help it. He’s like this super hot, singing, dancing, delicious piece of awesomeness.” She covered her mouth with her hands, her eyes wide. “I will so kill you if you tell anyone I said that.”
I walked over and clicked my own iPod on, surfing through the songs until I found Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball” and showed it to her.“As long as you promise not to tell anyone that I’m a closet Miley fan.”
We both burst out laughing, until Kara’s phone rang and Preston’s face filled the screen. “Crap!” She clicked the phone and blurted out in a rush, “Five minutes. We’ll be down in five minutes,” before hanging up and rushing to her wardrobe. “Crap! What am I going to wear?” She grabbed two dresses and tossed them on her bed, eyeing each as though she were making one of the toughest decisions of her life.
I had taken my clothes in with me when I showered so I wouldn’t have to risk getting undressed in front of Kara. I glanced at myself in the mirror above my dresser. I had on a new flowy black top Kara picked out for me. It was only three-quarter sleeve, but long enough to cover the scars on my left arm. I paired it with white shorts and some beaded sandals, giving me a slightly dressed-up vibe, though still relaxed.
Kara finally settled on a red dress and flashy heels, which I thought was a bit overdressed for some apartment party, until we reached the elevators and Rena and Sarah were dressed exactly the same way.
Rena eyed my outfit just as the elevator doors pinged open. “Is that what you’re wearing? Shorts? To a party?”
I stammered. “I . . .” The truth was, I didn’t have anything against dresses. I loved them—the way they made me feel beautiful and feminine. But I owned very few long-sleeve dresses, and the last thing I wanted to do was show off just what a freak I was when my skin was exposed.
“I think she looks perfect.”
My cheeks warmed as I glanced up to see Preston waiting inside the elevator, his hand on the door to keep it from closing. He had on a soft blue Polo shirt, loose over a pair of cargo shorts. The shirt set off the blue in his eyes, making him look like some outdoorsy model. Crisp, yet rugged. And entirely too hot. “Now can we hurry up, please? I’m in a handicap spot.” He motioned for us to get on the elevator.
Kara rushed in and kissed his cheek. “How mad are you? One to ten.”
He cocked his head, considering her. “Three, but it’ll shoot to an eleven if I get a ticket.”
“Hi, I’m Sarah,” Sarah said, interrupting Kara before she could respond.
“So, are you two together or something?” she asked, waving her hand between Kara and Preston.
“No,” they both answered quickly. Too quickly. My eyes shot up to Preston and then Kara, but they refused to make eye contact. Hmm. That was odd.
Then Preston draped his arm around Kara and glanced over at Sarah. “Nah. Not since second grade. We were the hot couple in the sandbox, until she cheated on with me Issac Wilson and Blake Thomas and Sam Lewis and—”
“Careful. You’re making it sound like I was some fly seven-year-old.”
He winked at her. “Oh, you were fly, all right.”
She pushed him and for some reason I felt a strange sensation in my stomach. Like jealousy, but that was crazy. I wasn’t jealous. I shook my head to push the feeling away and followed the others out of the elevator. I caught Rena nodding toward Preston and giving Sarah a devilish grin, causing the sensation to spike again.
What was wrong with me? I barely knew Preston. He was nothing to me. Why should I care what Rena thought or what kind of past he had with Kara? It didn’t matter. It—
“Hey, Olivia, we’re over here,” Kara called.
I turned around and realized in my silent psychobabble I had wandered away from the group, who were now climbing into a black Silverado parked in a handicap spot a few yards away.
“Nice ride,” I said with a smile as I went for the back cabin door.
“No way, Small Town. You’re up front,” Preston said, opening the passenger side door.
“No. Kara can. I’m fine back—”
“Kara isn’t allowed to ride shotgun. Are you, Kar?”
I glanced into the backseat to see Kara crossing her arms and looking annoyed. “It isn’t my fault you can’t drive. I only try to help.”
“Yeah, and by ‘help’ she means scream obscenities at the top of her lungs, while I tried to exit off 85 in Atlanta. Needless to say, she always gets demoted.”
I slid into the front seat, feeling immediately like I was overstepping some boundary between them. This was her spot, and I was sitting in it.
I turned around and gave Kara my best I’m-so-sorry-don’t-hate-me smile. She grinned back. “Don’t worry. I seriously always get demoted, even when it’s just the two of us.”
The girls in the back started up a conversation about their majors and classes and I tried to half join in, but my mind kept drifting to the last party I attended. The laughs, the dancing—the screams. It took an entire month of therapy for me to stop hearing them when I closed my eyes, and now I was throwing myself into a situation that could undo all my progress.
“Hey, you okay over there? You seem a little distracted.” Preston’s eyes shifted from the road to me and then back.
“Oh, yeah. I’m fine.” I shook my head to clear my thoughts. “Thanks for the save back there. I’m not much of a dress girl anymore.” I cringed. Why had I said that?
“Anymore? What, were you a pageant queen or something in a previous life?”
I smiled. “Something like that. This is a nice truck, by the way. Is it yours?” I asked, changing the subject before it edged any closer to the too-personal zone.
“Yep, all mine.” The way he said it made it sound like he wasn’t especially happy about that fact. “Do you have a car here?”
I laughed as the image of my Land Rover parked in our four-car garage flashed through my mind. My parents had refused to let me have it after I turned down Columbia. I thought they would sell it or something, but instead they kept it there, mocking me. Look what an idiot you are, Olive.
“No. No car.”
“Something tells me there’s a story there.”
I shrugged. “I had a car, but my parents took it when I decided to come here.”
“Ouch. So they didn’t approve of the awesome caliber of education found at the good ole CofC?”
I didn’t know what to say without sounding pretentious. “Let’s just say they had other things in mind, and when I chose this, instead of that, my car got parked.”
Preston studied me. “So, where were you supposed to go?”
I thought of my tour of Columbia with Trisha. How we bought matching T-shirts and pajama pants. How I burned them both a few weeks ago, like charring them could somehow burn away the hurt inside. “Just somewhere else.”
“Uh oh. Was it Johns Hopkins? Is there a good girl trapped inside that body of yours?”
“Johns Hopkins? Uh, no. And what do you mean that ‘body of mine’?”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Pieces of Olivia is one of those NA books that hasn’t met a cliché it didn’t like. To be fair, it’s still pretty difficult to find an NA novel that isn’t built on the “emotionally broken woman meets a similarly damaged man and together they ~heal each other with the power of love” theme but Pieces of Olivia took it to an entirely new level of boring and predictable. Everything about this story was just average and unmemorable. While the writing had me cringing in some parts (mostly the dialogue which felt really stilted and weird at times) it wasn’t awful. The characters were much the same. I pretty much had a “You’re not so bad. I wouldn’t want to hang with you but I also don’t want to punch you in the face” relationship with them the entire time I was reading. They weren’t as well-developed as I like my characters to be and could be super frustrating at times, Olivia especially. Of all the characters the only one I could say that I truly disliked was Kara. BAD, BAD FRIEND. Really, just bad, bad person in general. Not a fan at all. I also found Olivia’s therapist to be super ridiculous. THAT’S NOT HOW THERAPY WORKS OKAY. I can barely remember any of the other secondary characters to be honest, they just weren’t that memorable. The one thing that really stood out for me was the development of Olivia and Preston’s relationship. It felt pretty natural to me, from their burgeoning friendship where they acknowledge the mutual attraction but aren’t willing to do anything about it, to when they finally do get together. There were some cute moments I really enjoyed, at least before all the ridiculous drama started, which brings me to what made this book decidedly not for me. The plot of this book was just straight up ridiculous. Like most New Adult novels, both Olivia and Preston have big, tragic secrets from their past that make them unwilling to enter into a serious relationship with anybody. I can’t say a lot about it without spoiling this for people who may want to read it, but Preston’s BIG SECRET is pretty easy to guess early on and also causes me to come close to a rage blackout whenever I think about it. This is not the kind of secret you keep from a person you are in what you want to be a serious relationship with, especially when you know she suspects something is up. The whole situation is just icky and I honestly would have stopped reading as soon as I’d guessed it but the soap opera lover in me was really curious to see how this train wreck was going to end. So yea, between the average writing, average characterization and icky manufactured drama this book was definitely not Angie friendly, nor does it make me inclined to read anything more by this author. (I received this book for free from the NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.)
Wow I loved this story. Preston and olivia a great story about love and healing. A must read!L!!!!!!!!
This was a really emotional book. Olivia is clearly still grieving over something that happened to her. She blames herself and is in a very deep depression for a lot of the book. She has PTSD from her past and the littlest thing like a movie theater or a song will revert her back in time to that horrific day. However, she finds comfort in her therapist, her new college roommate, Kara, and Kara’s best friend, Preston. Over time she starts to heal little by little in the hopes of becoming whole again. “You’re a little wrinkled right now, and I understand how heavy those wrinkles can feel. How permanent they can feel. But I’ve never met a crease that time couldn’t iron out.” This was a great story. There was so much raw emotion that there were a couple of times where I was balling my eyes out. I don’t often cry like a baby while reading, so when I do, you know the book is good. I never went through what Olivia did, nor have I been to therapy before, but living through it with Olivia definitely brought it to life for me. So many emotions, so much pain. I could understand why Olivia was the was that she was. The girl had survived something horrific. There wasn’t a whole heck of a lot going on in the story. Just a girl trying to get back to having a normal life again. Now of course there is the love interest, Preston, who is your typical “I don’t want a relationship” guy. Now granted something horrible happened to him to make him become that way, but I didn’t understand how only dating/sleeping with a girl for a couple of weeks really protected his past from repeating itself. Olivia I understood, but his reasoning didn’t make sense to me. Nevertheless, I like the fact that it wasn’t insta-love. Hell, they don’t even say “I love you” until way down the road. There is angst, I will give it that, but thank goodness not the immediate love connection. This is the second book by West that I’ve read and loved. She’s definitely becoming an author that I will automatically read without waiting to read reviews first. I just really enjoy her writing style. It’s so easy to fall into the characters and live their lives with them. They aren’t just simply words printed on paper. They become alive with every word. You grieve with them, fear for them and in the end you’re sad to see them go when you finish the story.
I definitely had a couple of good cries during this one. Grab your tissues! *sigh* This book was so REAL. And different. Many of you may know this about me already, but I'm a pretty big fan of MCs who are survivors. And Olivia is definitely a survivor...but not of what seems to be the standard set of 'things to survive from' that I seem to be reading over and over lately. Not that I don't still appreciate those books, but I REALLY appreciated that Olivia, and her story, were different. This story will take you on a roller coaster of emotions. One minute I was laughing out loud, and the next, I was practically sobbing right along with Olivia. And then I was biting my nails, worrying over people's actions/reactions...and then basking in the happiness of knowing that sometimes things turn out even better than anyone could have imagined. Oliva and Preston (OMG Preston, can I PRETTY PLEASE have one of him in my real life?!) have both had some pretty crappy things happen to them in their short lives. And they are dealing with them in VERY different ways. And those ways aren't exactly healthy...but maybe they can find a different way to help each other heal, together. Speaking of how Olivia and Preston are dealing with the skeletons in their closets, I HAVE to make mention of the secondary characters in this book! Although Olivia's roommate, Kara, is a big secondary character, since she is Preston's best friend as well, my favorite secondary character is Olivia's therapist, Rose. She's so different in her approach to helping Olivia, and she's a real person, not just a doctor in an office. We see and hear about things going on with Rose that are personal, and have nothing to do with Olivia's "case". And both of their families still exist in this story, more than just being the names on their birth certificates, or siblings who disappear from the pages once they entered college, which is refreshing, even if I didn't always like certain members of their families. :) I want to tell you ALL THE THINGS about this novel...but I REALLY think everyone needs to experience everything in this story the same way I did: with no expectations, except that all of the characters in this book have a past that might haunt them in the present, and that the chemistry between Olivia and Preston is HOT! I CAN'T WAIT FOR THE NEXT BOOK IN THIS SERIES!!!! December is so far away! I'm excited to read Kara's story. But for now, YOU need to read THIS book! Go now, and 1-click!
A lot of New Adult books follow a pattern, the same pattern. But those years right after high school and into adulthood do not follow the same patter for everyone. Indeed, common patterns are the exception rather than the rule these days. So it's nice to find one that breaks the New Adult mode in a really powerful way like Pieces of Olivia does. This story is about a girl who has faced a devastating lose. She's not living but surviving. Everyone is worrying about her. She's pushing away from things that have been planned for years. Looking for a different path, one that could actually be more difficult for her recovery. But she meets some people that change that. A great roommate, a guy that she's drawn to and a quirky therapist. She finds her life again. Preston. What an incredible guy. A player but not a player. He's protecting his heart and with good reasons. He's accepting and comforting. He gets that things are hard. Patient and forgiving, he falls hard for Olivia. I fell hard for him. Kara. That girl talks a lot. Her best friend is Preston but he is quickly joined by Olivia. She's trying to figure out her life and it's not as clear and it may seem. Rose. What a character this women is. Forceful and daring, she pushes Olivia to face her pain and to let it go. Love her and her ghost talking ways. Can you see from the list of characters that this book is different. These people are woven together to create the perfect storm that helps Olivia put the pieces of her life back together. No one of them could have accomplished what they did as a whole. It wasn't the perfect love between Preston and Olivia. It wasn't just the great new friendship that Olivia desperately needed. It wasn't just the quirky therapist and her chain smoking. It was all of them together. Because that's real. It takes more than finding love again to heal. It takes support to heal. It takes Olivia being ready. It takes Olivia being brave. It takes all of them working together to create this story and I loved it. One of the best books I've read this year, Pieces of Olivia should not be missed.
***4.5 Stars*** Pieces of Olivia is the first book I have read from author Melissa West. I was really impressed with her writing and I can’t wait to read more from her. Pieces of Olivia is a story about Olivia Warren, a college student who is trying to start a new life. She becomes close to her new roommate Kara and struggles in making a new friendship with Preston (Kara's hot best friend). Besides the stress of moving to a new city Olivia is also trying to recover from a devastating loss. I felt the beginning of the story went slow and it took some time to finally know about Olivia's past. I wish her past was explained earlier in the book but once it is revealed I was able to get a better understanding of Olivia. I cried when she cried. I had the same doubts she was feeling. I formed a connection with Olivia. Olivia is dealing with so much pain yet she wasn’t whiner. She does the best she can to heal and move forward which I really admired. I also loved the supporting cast, Kara and Preston. But I especially loved Rose, Olivia’s quirky therapist! Rose’s technique was unconventional but is perfect for Olivia. I had some "ah ha" moments with their sessions that I can apply in my life. I was amazed of how well this was written. Pieces of Olivia deals with a serious subject but I didn’t feel emotionally drained (which I was worried about). This was an uplifting story of healing, friendship, love and hope. I can’t wait to read the next book, Kara’s story.
Being a huge fan of Melissa's YA sci-fi series, I was PSYCHED to see that she was writing New Adult Contemporary! I already knew I loved her writing and good Lord above the woman knows how to bring the swoon. While this is a very emotional story and has some very heartwrenching content, she manages to give you all the feels with some serious sexual tension between the main characters. I feel it was necessary to have a slower building relationship, especially considering what these two characters have been through. Olivia is scarred both physically and emotionally from an event that happened in her past. She heads to school in Charleston despite her parents wishes, as she desperately needs a new start. However, because of Olivia's inability to let go of the past, she is not healing in the way she needs to and will not unless she seeks some help. She finds that in her new relationships with Kara, Preston, and Rose. All of these individuals help Olivia work towards healing, even though they are unaware of what happened to her. Ultimately, it is Olivia who has to make the decision to really start LIVING again. Olivia's roommate, Kara, is very welcoming of her, which is just what Olivia needs. It is through Kara that she meets Preston, who she is best friends with. There's definitely more to Kara and Preston than meets the eye and you could feel they had some underlying tension between them. We do find out they are keeping some things from Olivia, which bothered me a bit because I felt they both should have been honest with her from the beginning. Kara, while more outgoing, definitely has her own emotional scars and I'm really looking forward to reading her book next. I think her story will also be an emotional one. Preston doesn't do relationships because of something that happened in his past. He likes to tease and flirt with Olivia, but he ends up really liking her and actually wants to try for more. As attracted to Preston as Olivia is, I'm glad she makes it clear that she's not the kind of girl to do casual. I did feel there were some inconsistencies with Preston's character though. He is incredibly supportive of Olivia, but there were a few of his reactions that didn't quite fit with his character. When he sees her scars, he doesn't address them, but instead keeps his distance. Preston is not the type to shy away from such things- he doesn't pressure her to tell him what happened to her, but I was surprised that he stayed away from her after that, instead of offering his silent support, knowing she would open up to him when he was ready. Don't get me wrong- he DOES show acceptance of her and offers her strength when she is feeling vulnerable, and I love that he doesn't give up on her either. There's one scene that literally had me jumping up and down because my heart was so full and I was SO glad Preston was involved. Rose is another great character. I like that she takes the tough love approach on Olivia. She flat out refuses to help her unless she helps herself first and I thought that was SO critical to Olivia's healing! She makes her realize that until she faces her demons and the past, she won't be able to move forward and live the life she wants. As I said, Melissa knows how to bring the swoon and create some really sexy scenes. I loved the tension between Preston and Olivia and feeling the whole 'I want this, but I can't do this' angst. It works and it isn't just inserted into the story for no reason. I understand why Preston doesn't do relationships and it makes complete sense. He just needed to find the right person to show him that love is worth having and that he deserves to be happy. I am also grateful that Melissa doesn't overdo their sexual relationship. New Adult should be about discovery and growth and I feel a lot of them are going overboard with the sex scenes. I do feel Preston and Olivia's was a bit abrupt and kind of rushed, and I personally would have liked to have just a teensy bit more buildup beforehand. Overall, I really enjoyed this one. The New Adult genre should be about being able to see a character's growth and development from their teenage years to becoming an adult. I feel like we do get to see this with Olivia and Preston, and I'm really looking forward to seeing Kara's as well.
Olivia decides not to go to Columbia and enrolls in the College of Charleston instead. She's doing it for Trisha. Because that's where they both really wanted to go. But only one of them could go so Olivia is trying to make the best of it. Her parents would only let her go if she saw a counselor once a week while she was there. So she meets Rose and her "guests". Olivia's roommate Kara has a hot best friend, Preston. She does everything she can to stay away from him because she hears from Kara that he doesn't keep girls around for long. As time goes on, Olivia and Preston start to become good friends and are spending a lot of time together. Feelings for each other start to come to the surface as Olivia tries to move on from her past. She's finding that when she's with Preston, she doesn't think about what happened at all. If only she could tell him. But he seems to be hiding something too. And the whispers between him and Kara are getting on her last nerve. Loved it! Absolutely loved it! The author did such a great job writting this book, that at the end, I couldn't help but cry with Olivia. I REALLY wanted her to be able to move on from her past. Not forget, like she was trying to do, but to move on and live her life. Which Preston was helping her do. Everything moved at just the right pace. There's a time for every event and the author hit this one on the head! I couldn't put it down! Was there anything I didn't like about this book? Um...no. Not at all. Kara got on my nerves a bit, but that was expected considering her role in the book. And it worked fabulously! I can't wait to read the next book in the series because it will give me a little update from this book. Plus, an author that can write like this, always captures my attention to read more of their work. *I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*
Actual Rating: 4.5 Stars Pieces of Olivia is refreshing, emotional and captivating! Pieces of Olivia follows the story of Olivia Warren. She led a normal life and had an amazing and bright future until one night. That one night forever changed her. Now, she's not only hiding the scars on her body, but also the emotional ones...Then she meets Preston, her roommates best friend. The chemistry between the two of them is undeniable and with every moment that they spend together, their feelings grow. Will Olivia be strong enough to show Preston her scars?? And will Preston ever trust Olivia with the secret that he keeps inside?? Pieces of Olivia deals with some pretty tough subject matter and Melissa West handled it beautifully. I loved how she dealt with the aspect of therapy and how you could really see Olivia start to heal and become whole again. Olivia was so easy to relate to. My heart went out to her. I just wanted to see her get better and be happy. She endured so much and by the end of the book, had grown so much...Preston, what can I say about him. He was definitely swoon worthy. He had a secret of his own and didn't want to let any girl get close to him until her met Olivia. And I am so glad she took a chance on him. They had such a wonderful, slow building relationship. Pieces of Olivia is so well written. You will get lost in the pages and captivated with the characters. This book will take you on an emotional ride and I loved every minute of it. This is the first book that I've read by Melissa West and I can definitely say she has made a fan out of me! *****I received a copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*****
Pieces of Olivia by Melissa West is the first of the Charleston Haven New Adult series and I have to let you all know that this book is an example of why I keep coming back to the New Adult genre. This review will not have any spoilers as I don’t want to give anything away but know that there are interesting and real characters, a plot that kept me interested, and of course, plenty of swoon. Olivia is starting college and it is clear that things aren’t exactly what she thought they would be. She isn’t at Columbia (like her parents had hoped) – instead she is at the College of Charleston and moving into the dorm. It is also clear that she is running away from something…we just don’t find out exactly what until later in the story as this is told real time and we pick up with Olivia the day she is moving into her dorm. I liked Olivia as the main character. She is clearly struggling with something and she isn’t completely ready to move on. Despite that, she has decided to try to start completely over in a new town where no one knows about her past and the reason for the scars she has – both physical and mental. As she opens the door to her dorm room the first person she meets is Preston Riggs and boy does he make an impression. Olivia also meets her roommate, Kara and they quickly become friends. Kara is definitely more outgoing than Olivia is and through her, Olivia begins to meet people and get out of her room and her head. She is also Preston’s best friend and knows things about him that no one else does. Olivia doesn’t take advantage of this but she definitely feels that there is something they are keeping from her at certain points of the story. I am absolutely looking forward to her story as I thought she was a solid character and based on the end of this book, I am intrigued to see what happens. Preston is officially on the swoony boy list…no question. Despite Olivia’s initial impression of Preston, he isn’t really the playboy she assumes he is. Yes, he has issues with commitment because of something that happened in his past and he sticks to his rule around no serious relationships…until he starts to get close to Olivia. I love that he calls her “Small Town” and when they go fishing and when they are almost busted at the party and he tells her “I’ve got you”….I could definitely go on and on but I think everyone needs to experience him for themselves so just enjoy the swoon! One of the things that Olivia had to agree to before her parents would let her go to school was that she would see a therapist. This agreement introduces Rose and she pushes Olivia to face the things she has been avoiding for a long time. I thought she added a layer to the story that was critical and without her; the story would have been very different. As friendships and relationships begin to develop, the story unfolds and I enjoyed every minute of this book. West did a wonderful job of creating these complex characters and revealing their stories in a way that kept me turning the pages just to find out what was really going on. As her first story in the New Adult genre I have to congratulate her as she has created a wonderful and intense story that is exactly the reason why I continue to come back to it. If you enjoy NA, definitely check this one out when you can – I am positive you will enjoy it. I myself am absolutely looking forward to book two of this series and will pick it up as soon as I possibly can.
WOW...this book blew me away! From the very first page the story pulled me in and I had to know more about the past events, the future, the characters. This is a fantastic story of a young woman's journey through her first year of college while dealing with the psychological fallout of a recent horrific event in her life. Along the way she finds new friendships, love, and hope. A great story that I recommend to everyone.
I really, really enjoyed Pieces of Olivia. It packed an emotional punch, but was never TOO much. I’m all for angst, but I definitely wasn’t in the mood for that when I picked this book up. It made me feel the feels without feeling hopeless and I can’t really ask for more than that. Olivia was a great character. The reader didn’t know her full story for quite awhile into the book and I enjoyed learning bits and pieces as the truth was revealed. Her past was a painful one and my heart broke for her. I can’t imagine going through all she did and still remaining upright. She was strong… just how I like my main female characters. I freaking loved Preston. Talk about a totally swoon-worthy book boyfriend. He was hiding a painful secret from his past, as well. Olivia and Preston had a ton of chemistry and they could easily relate to each other because of their pasts. I loved the slow build of their relationship from acquaintance to friendship to more. It made it all the more realistic. There was no love triangle, but Olivia’s friendship with her roommate and Preston’s best friend, Kara, was an obstacle. Olivia didn’t know full extent of Preston and Kara’s history, but she suspected it was more than just friendship. Regardless, she didn’t want to make things awkward with Kara or Preston, even if they were just friends, so she tried to fight her attraction to Preston. You can guess how well that worked out. The characters in Pieces of Olivia all had their own secrets to keep. Some of them were shocking, others not so much. The big “twist” wasn’t that much of a surprise to me. It did, however, make things a little awkward for the reader… and the characters, too, I would imagine. The minor characters like Kara and Olivia’s therapist played a huge role in this story and the growth of the characters. Even with the secrets being kept and the gut-wrenching reaction I had to one of them, I still managed to like all the characters. I hope to get more of each of their stories in the upcoming books in this series. This is the first of Melissa West’s books that I’ve read and I assure you it won’t be the last. I’m excited to read more of her Charleston Haven series. The next book is Kara’s and I’m interested to see where it goes. Come on, December! I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.