Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Rend by Roan Parrish

After a whirlwind romance, a man with a painful past learns to trust the musician who makes him believe in happy endings.

Matt Argento knows what it feels like to be alone. After a childhood of abandonment, he never imagined someone might love him—much less someone like Rhys Nyland, who has the voice of an angel, the looks of a god, and the worship of his fans.

Matt and Rhys come from different worlds, but when they meet, their chemistry is incendiary. Their romance is unexpected, intense, and forever—at least, that’s what their vows promise. Suddenly, Matt finds himself living a life he never thought possible: safe and secure in the arms of a man who feels like home. But when Rhys leaves to go on tour for his new album, Matt finds himself haunted by the ghosts of his past.

When Rhys returns, he finds Matt twisted by doubt. But Rhys loves Matt fiercely, and he’ll go to hell and back to triumph over Matt’s fears. After secrets are revealed and desires are confessed, Rhys and Matt must learn to trust each other if they’re going to make it. That means they have to fall in love all over again—and this time, it really will be forever.

Roan Parrish’s pitch-perfect Riven novels can be read together or separately.

Add to Goodreads –

Book 2
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

3.5 stars

The second book in this series isn’t as much a sequel as it is a companion novel to Riven. Rend is the story of Caleb’s ex-boyfriend, Rhys, and his husband, Matt. The story moves back and forth in time, exploring Matt’s life and the effects of Matt’s traumatic childhood experiences on his adult life and his marriage to Rhys. This book doesn’t standalone and readers will need to start with Riven to fully engage with this second book.

This is a dark story. Matt is a private, secretive character who is unable to love himself and unable to trust anyone else. When Rhys goes on tour for a couple of months, Matt falls apart. This book was hard work for me. Matt isn’t a particularly likeable character and he is an emotional mess. At the end, the writer talks about working elements of Gothic fiction into the book and all I could think about was how close the writing style came to proper Gothic melodrama. Matt spends much of the story remembering and working through past traumas and current emotions. There were times the intensity of his emotions was overwhelming for me as a reader. As a foster carer, I appreciate how the writer approaches childhood trauma and attachment disorders. As a romance reader who uses fiction to escape from my kids’ trauma issues, the book is a bit too heavy and a bit too close to real life for me.

I have mixed feelings about the unconventional structure of this romance. My geeky academic side likes the concept of playing with the classic structure of a romance by starting with marriage and working backwards and forwards from the traditional romance end point. The romantic in me feels that the unconventional structure made it difficult to fully understand or properly invest in the relationship between Rhys and Matt.

3.5 stars

This is the second book in the series, and whilst it can be read as a standalone, I think it is better for understanding Theo and Caleb and the reason that they are important to this relationship.

Overall, I enjoyed the outcome of this book, but it was told in a way which I found highly frustrating. There are times where moving backwards during a story to explain things works, here I was not entirely sure. I also found too much inner voice, and mostly insecure inner voice. Fundamentally I think I found the whole story rather odd. Matt was so clearly in need of therapy, from the very beginning. I felt his story was well explained, and even though he had not told Rhys everything, he was still obviously a man suffering from significant issues due to his mother abandoning him as a young child. Rhys was amazingly supportive, but never seemed to understand just how damaged and in need of security his man was – his only solution was to take him to bed to show him how much he loved him. It was a tactic he repeated, and Matt asked for many times. Even if they were enjoying themselves, Matt used it too often to forget, which made it slightly uncomfortable.

By the end I did feel that their future was much more likely to be good, but for most of the book, I wanted to point out the obvious!

Rend is the sequel to Riven, but can easily be read as a standalone. However, I do recommend reading Riven first, as the characters are introduced in that novel.

During Riven, we learned Rhys and Matt are a married couple, as Caleb and Theo are put through the paces. Rhys and Caleb are best friends and past lovers, their connection runs deep, with their partners joining the circle.

The whole of Rend is simply working the kinks out of a new marriage, when obviously Matt was not ready to marry in the first place. As our narrator, Matt suffers during the entirety, finding his footing as a husband, where he fits into Rhys' life, and what he wants in the future.

Matt counsels young adults who aged-out of the foster care system, which should have fit him perfectly. Other than the fact that he wasn't stable enough to hand out advice he himself did not take. He needed a therapist. ASAP. But no one thought to suggest this, not even his adviser at work.

Matt was abandoned by his father, then his mother, then by the woman he called aunt, ageing out of the foster care system. To say the man has baggage is an understatement. Upon meeting Rhys, Matt pretends this baggage doesn't exist, only moving forward from that day forth, but the past shapes the future, infected with insecurities, lack of confidence, and a weak self-worth.

In a nutshell, Matt never felt he was good enough, gauging his worst against everyone else's best.

Told in a stream of consciousness, not in linear timelines. There were pages where events mentioned took place in the far past, the distant past, the now, and even the next day. I would be reading along in what I thought was the present, then would be thrust in something that happened the next day at work, only to have the story shift back to what I assumed was the present (the day before the work day) and this chaotic writing style continued throughout the novel.

90% TOLD, hardly anything shown happening in the now other than sex scenes. Stream of consciousness. No linear timeline. Befuddling back and forth on the same page with nothing denoting the shift in time.

I wanted to become emotionally invested in this gritty, overemotional novel, but the writing style, the way the pacing didn't organically unfold, made it difficult to connect for me. Added to the fact that I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, since they were so in love from the start to finish, but it never fell (let that be a comfort to those reading reviews prior to purchasing).

The entirety of the plot is Matt working through his baggage with Rhys nonstop reassuring him, intermixed with redundant sex scenes. Character-driven, yet the character repeats the same things on every page for 300 pages, no matter what era in time was told, where I don't see an evolution of change over time, but the change occurring with a finger-snap.

I wanted to love the novel, empathizing with Matt, while some of his pain resonated deeply within me, but the execution of the novel itself took away from the experience. While I enjoyed the beyond insta-love beginning, there was little to no plot to support 300+ pages of what felt like the reader being thrust into a therapy session not hosted by a therapist.

Honestly, if the book had been written in a linear timeline, where all those flashbacks into the beginning of their marriage fell in line with the beginning where they met, my rating would have been higher. It starts off where they met. Then they are married. The reader misses the most important parts – the journey where they fell in love. They were in love and married and we just had to believe the author because we were told, not shown. The in-between bits are shown randomly when Matt thinks of them, mixed in with actual flashbacks to his past in foster care with his foster brother. The timeline/format/release of information killed the book for me.

Recommended to fans of the author and the series. I am curious to see where else the series is headed.

Also Available in the Riven Series

Book 1
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo

For reviews & more info, check out our Riven post.

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

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads
Google+  ~  Instagram


Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Roan (Riven #2) by Roan Parrish to read and review.

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