Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Riven by Roan Parrish

Two tortured musicians inspire each other to risk their hearts in this edgy and emotional novel.

Theo Decker might be the lead singer of Riven, but he hates being a rock star. The paparazzi, the endless tours, being recognized everywhere he goes—it all makes him squirm. The only thing he doesn’t hate is the music. Feeling an audience’s energy as they lose themselves in Riven’s music is a rush unlike anything else... until he meets Caleb Blake Whitman. Caleb is rough and damaged, yet his fingers on his guitar are pure poetry. And his hands on Theo? They’re all he can think about. But Caleb’s no groupie—and one night with him won’t be enough.

Just when Caleb is accepting his new life as a loner, Theo Decker slinks into it and turns his world upside-down. Theo’s sexy and brilliant and addictively vulnerable, and all Caleb wants is another hit. And another. That’s how he knows Theo’s trouble. Caleb can’t even handle performing these days. How the hell is he going to survive an affair with a tabloid superstar? But after Caleb sees the man behind the rock star, he begins to wonder if Theo might be his chance at a future he thought he’d lost forever.

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Book 1
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

3.5 Stars

Riven is a contemporary MM romance between an older blues musician and a young, reluctant rock star, solely focusing on their character development, within their relationship with one another and within themselves.

Slow paced, with a small cast of characters, I have to be honest how it took me several days to finish the novel. Not because I didn’t enjoy it, but rather because there just wasn’t much going on to ‘hook’ me. It meandered at times, causing it to feel longer than its page count. With that being said, I did truly enjoy Theo and Caleb.

Theo is all about the music and the performance, and absolutely loathes the bells and whistles. He joined a band because he wanted a sense of community, camaraderie, of family. Being the lead singer, which means he is the frontrunner who has fans clamoring for his attention, jealousy and a divide keeps Theo from connecting with his bandmates in the way he wished he could.

Caleb had a good career as a musician, but he fell into all the trappings of being a star, including drugs. It took four stints in rehab, but it was basically maturity that has Caleb struggling to stay sane and sober. I felt this characterization was dead-accurate – the fear, the worry and panic. How he wants to be with Theo but not the celebrity that follows in his wake, how he wants to create music but not the trappings.

Theo and Caleb were hot together, a lot of chemistry and tension that was a bit too instantaneous for my liking. I need to be teased, have it drawn out and make me earn it. There was lust explored at the start of the novel, and the guys kept going there as they got to know each other on a deeper level. Prude, I am not, but I have to admit I skimmed the later sex scenes due to the abundance and redundancy.

The conflict was self-created. While I understood Caleb’s fear and hesitation, the ‘push you away’ was one or two too many times in a novel, removing the emotional impact while taking it into more of a frustrating-the-reader territory, when the reader knows they will eventually get there due to the genre. Able to predict the ending, I kept thinking, “C’mon, not again!”

Theo and Caleb resonated with me on an emotional level. I appreciated their struggles and growth as the novel progressed, and their connection felt real. The music intrigued me. However, the slower pacing, lack of any real conflict, the redundancy when it came to scenes/smexy time/relationship issues, and Caleb pushing Theo away a few times too many, this had my interests waning and contemplating DNFing the novel many times over.

The ending did give me the warm and fuzzies, so I’m pleased I persevered and do believe it was worth it.

This is a full on angst-fueled romance between two tortured musicians. Theo is a reluctant rock star, the front man outsider in a band that both resents and needs his musical talents. Caleb is a washed-up Blues musician struggling to stay clean and away from the lifestyle that exacerbated his addiction.

There is an immediate connection between Theo and Caleb from their first meeting. But both men carry too much emotional baggage. Relationships require trust and vulnerability and neither Theo or Caleb can do either of these things. The result is an emotionally volatile push-pull relationship that I found exhausting and often infuriating as a reader.

The music is beautiful in this book and I love the way the author almost allows us to hear it. For me, the relationship between Caleb and Theo is so volatile that both men often seem childlike. Theo’s reaction to his success comes across as petulant and ungrateful. There were times I shared the band’s dislike for Theo because his arrogance and general misery aren’t terribly attractive.

I enjoyed the quality of the writing in this story more than I enjoyed the characters or their relationship. I’m probably older than the target demographic for this story and I think I’m a little too old for Theo’s emo angst. But as always, Roan Parrish’s writing is beautiful.

I have only read a few books by this author and seems like I am always in the minority on how I feel about each book. I almost didn't make it through this one. The insta-love between Theo and Caleb would have been fine with me, along with all the sex, I love sex in my books. However, I didn't connect with Theo or Caleb. I felt like some things were said over and over again, which drove me nuts. Then some of the story just seemed like filler to make the book longer or to try to make you like it more. Even the sex couldn't keep me interested. Theo and Caleb's story just wasn't for me but I am sure others will love it.

I am a big fan of tortured rock stars who have had enough of fame and paparazzi – so this worked for me. It has to be said that Theo could have helped himself by communicating better with his band, as when he does finally they do tone their expectations down a bit.

Both Caleb and Theo clearly had an amazing talent, but not enough direction – so it was a bit frustrating at times to have them leading the story! They did, however, have wonderful chemistry, in every way, which kept the interest levels high even when their future together seemed so uncertain. The lack of supportive side characters who were integral to the story was noticeable – sure, there were both Rhys and Huey in Caleb's life, but their role seemed to be fixed around Caleb's fear of falling, rather than his chance at a clean future. And Theo really had no one except Caleb.

It was a different take on a rock star romance, and one which gave me pause for thought, and guaranteed that if I met them, we would eat out!

Roan Parrish lives in Philadelphia, where she is gradually attempting to write love stories in every genre.

When not writing, she can usually be found cutting her friends’ hair, meandering through whatever city she’s in while listening to torch songs and melodic death metal, or cooking overly elaborate meals. She loves bonfires, winter beaches, minor chord harmonies, and self-tattooing. One time she may or may not have baked a six-layer chocolate cake and then thrown it out the window in a fit of pique.

Connect with Roan

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Riven (Riven #1) by Roan Parrish to read and review.

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