Riven: A Novel

Riven: A Novel

by Roan Parrish

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Riven: A Novel by Roan Parrish

Two tortured musicians inspire each other to risk their hearts in this edgy and emotional novel.
Riven is the romance you must read next. You’re welcome.”—Suzanne Brockmann, New York Times bestselling author of Some Kind of Hero
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.

Praise for Riven

“[Roan] Parrish may well break readers’ hearts with this deeply felt, perfectly paced contemporary. . . . The author’s sensitive portrait of an addict in recovery adds depth and layers to the story. . . . Generous and tender in all the right ways.”Publishers Weekly

Riven has it all: off-the-charts chemistry, heart-wrenching emotion, and a captivating storyline that grabs you from page one.”—Sloane Kennedy, author of The Protectors series

“Roan Parrish turns her signature lyrical prose to the world of rock and roll, and the result is both beautiful and off-the-charts hot.”—Jenny Holiday, USA Today bestselling author of One and Only

This ebook includes an excerpt from another Loveswept title.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781524799328
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/29/2018
Series: Riven Series , #1
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 262
Sales rank: 39,012
File size: 634 KB

About the Author

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.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1


“Theo Decker: Reluctant Rock Star.”

That was the headline that accompanied the cover of Groove magazine that came out today, and it was the reason I was hiding in my dressing room from the rest of the band. I could already imagine Ven, nostrils flaring, voice tight with anger: Lead singer standing in for the whole band again, awesome!

And that was before you even got to the photo, which was about fifty percent me.

I pulled the magazine out of my bag to glare at it and my stomach dropped again. Ven, Coco, and Ethan hovered in the background, eclipsed by me. My arms were wrapped around myself like a straitjacket or a hug and I was gazing up at the camera in what had been an awkward plea for the shoot to be over, but looked coy. I cursed myself for the hundredth time for believing the smarmy editor who’d assured me that of course all the band members would be featured equally.

Reluctant rock star wasn’t precisely accurate. More like, Rock Star Who Loves Performing with a Fiery Passion but Hates Being Famous More than He Ever Expected. Only that didn’t make for a very snappy headline.

I cast one last look in the dressing room mirror. Staring back at me wasn’t a rock star of any description. It was a scared kid who’d gone from no one caring about him to everyone caring about him in the time it would take most people to clean out a garage. My black hair was wild around my face, just like it always was, gray eyes ringed in days of overlaid black eyeliner, just like they always were, lips bitten raw, as had become common lately. My black jeans were tight, permanently sweat-creased behind the knees, and hanging a little low on my hips, since I hadn’t been able to stomach much lately. The white T-shirt hung on me, making my arms look skinnier than they were, and my shoulders sharper.

It wasn’t even a costume. These were my own clothes, my own aesthetic, just as I used my real name. Which made it feel even weirder to see it all turned into a persona. Theo Decker: Reluctant Rock Star.

I smeared on some lip balm so my mouth wouldn’t crack and bleed onstage, hitched my jeans up, and patted the lucky pick I wore on a string around my neck, hidden under my T-shirt. The one I’d been using the night Ethan had heard me at Sushi Bar’s open mic night and changed my life forever. I hummed a few lines of our opening song. My voice was on its last legs, but this was the end of the tour, thank god, and I’d have time to rest it.
I swallowed hard, pushing the sick feeling of alienation from the rest of Riven down into the pit of my stomach.

“Okay, go,” I ordered Theo Decker in the mirror, and pushed through the door to join my band.

Blinded by floodlights, shaky with exertion, and high on adrenaline, I closed my eyes as the lights changed for our final song. It had been a great set, the rest of the band coming through despite their anger at the cover, just like I knew they would. They always did. We were magical together. That’s what everybody said. Synergistic. Nearly psychic.

Coco plucked the first, haunting notes of “No More Time,” our newest single, as the stage was washed in eerie blue light. They reverberated, striking like a gong in my chest. Ven came in with the bass line, then Ethan counted in, and the rhythm went to double time. I pounded the drumbeats with my foot, needing to wring every last bit of energy out onto the stage.

There was this moment, before the first note left my mouth, when everything changed. There was the before and the after; the quiet and the noise; the off and the on. It was the moment when I felt like I appeared, pushing everything that I was out of myself like the notes I sang were a strong-currented river, able to disgorge me.

I’d written this song in about twenty minutes. It had fallen into my head fully formed, like something in a dream. It swooped and soared from the bottom of my register to the top, and there was a moment after the second bridge when the instruments cut out and I hit a note that blasted through the sudden silence like a wrecking ball.

Tonight, since I knew it was the last show of the tour, I sang it with everything I had left, let it pull me to my tiptoes and to the edge of the stage, sweat flicking off my hair as I threw myself open before the screaming crowd.

The crowd. They thundered around me, their stomps and screams like my own heartbeat, their energy coursing through me like blood. These were the moments I lived for. These were the moments that made every other miserable bit of fame worth it.

I opened my arms, threw my head back, and shattered myself to pieces for them, until there was nothing left.

“It’s a phenomenal opportunity—a real honor,” Dougal, our manager, was saying as we sat in Coco’s dressing room after the show. I was so exhausted I was hardly listening to him. Still floaty from performing, I was already gone, back to New York and my apartment, blissfully alone.

“It would just mean extending by three more weeks. Easy-peasy.”

My blitzed brain caught on the absurdity of “easy-peasy,” before it got around to processing the rest of his sentence.

“Extending?” I croaked around my cherry menthol cough drop.

“Just for three weeks or so,” Dougal confirmed. “The Scandinavian leg of the tour would end the first day of the DeadBeat Festival. Done.”

I looked around at the rest of the band, expecting to see that they were equally horrified at the idea of extending the tour. But Coco looked excited, her foot tapping like it always did when she was plotting; Ethan was nodding, and Ven had leaned forward, elbows on knees.

My heart began to triphammer and suddenly the taste of the cherry threatened to make me sick. I shook my head.

“You guys, no way. I can’t.” My throat felt raw, a metallic taste lurking beneath the cherry and menthol.

“But, the DeadBeat Festival!” Coco crowed, at the same time Ven said, “It’s a major ask, and major sales after the festival.”

Coco shot him a look, as if they’d already discussed the tack they were going to take and that wasn’t it. Had they discussed it? Had Dougal told them but not me? She went on. “Cavalcade and The Runny Whites are playing. DJ Romulus is gonna be there. If it’d make people think of us as being in the same league as artists like them, how can we turn it down? Besides, it’s only three more weeks. What’s three weeks after four months?”

Ven, Ethan, and Dougal nodded their agreement and my heart sank.

This date marked in my calendar had been the only thing getting me through the last month. The Boston show meant the end of the tour. The promise of home, of the familiar streets of my neighborhood, the warmth and solitude of my own bed, and the chance to just . . . be, without being under constant scrutiny. I longed for it.

But I couldn’t say any of that to the band. They had been living for this tour. After all, it was what they’d always been working toward—long before they’d met me.

I was opening my mouth to say that I just didn’t have another three weeks left in me, when Ven fixed me with a cool stare.

“Come on, bro. Everyone says you’re the star. Well, stars have to pay their dues.”

And there it was. They were all looking at me. Coco’s expression was pleading, Ethan’s hopeful, Ven’s a challenge, and Dougal’s the studied neutrality of calculation.

“You all want to?” I asked them, and was immediately met with a chorus of yeses.


How could I let them down? We were a team; we were supposed to look out for one another. Usually, we were friends, too. I needed to be on the same side as them or being in Riven was beyond lonely. If I said no, I ruined it for all of them. Besides, Coco was right about what it meant for us to be asked to play the festival, to be asked to add dates to our tour. It meant we’d arrived.

If only I wanted to be at the place where we’d arrived.
“Okay,” I said, my voice a whisper. “Sure. It’s only three weeks.”

Customer Reviews

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Riven 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Trio 24 days ago
Just as beautifully written as all Roan Parish’s books, Riven is a feast for the soul. When I read a book by RP I know I’m in for some heavy feels, and the two men in this one are dealing with some major life issues. Watching them work through it all, and get to a safe, healthy, and satisfying place was an incredible experience. It took me a long time to read this one. It was one I’d pick up and read, then put down for awhile. I knew I’d finish it, but I guess it just felt so heavy at times. I think it’s because the two characters’ issues are so real, and the way they work through them are really intense, but gah - so worth it. I highly recommend this truly wonderful story.
Fritz409 8 months ago
This was beautiful. The writing was lyrical and pulled me right to the heart of their love for music and each other. It also pulled me down to the pain of Caleb's addiction and Theo's need for someone to love and accept him for who he was. Oh, these two incredible guys! It was music that brought them together. Caleb was a blues musician, somewhat famous, who had crashed due to his addiction. Having been through rehab numerous times, he felt he had to basically give up his musical life, taking himself away from any temptation to use again by living on his family farm. He allowed himself an occasional set at a tucked away bar in the city, which belong to his friend. It was there that Theo stumped upon him, drawn in from outside when he heard Caleb playing. Theo was the lead singer and songwriter of the famous rock band Riven. He loved the music. He loved creating it, putting pieces of himself into every note and word. He wove songs together, and when he was on stage, he opened himself up and poured all of that out to the audience. He loved that, but hated everything else that went along with fame. He had a distant and superficial relationship with his band mates, who were clearly upset with the level of attention that people and the media gave to Theo, attention that Theo himself abhorred. But he put up with all of that, looking for a connection with someone and feeling obligated to his fellow band members. So when he had an incredible night with Caleb, a night that made him connect with another human being like never before, he had to try to find him again. And they were good together. Their level of understanding and appreciation for the other one's talent in music gave them a bond. But it was how they connected emotionally to each other that was an experience to watch. I loved how Caleb was that voice of experience, pushing Theo that it was okay to want what he wanted, being that home to Theo. I loved how Theo understood Caleb's fears but still pushed him to do more as he grew in strength emotionally. That's not to say that they didn't have troubles. Numerous times. (I'm looking at you, Caleb.) There are some great secondary characters here, Huey and Rhys, Caleb's friends. I was glad Caleb had them in his corner during those times when his fears pushed Theo away. I don't want to say too much. The ebb and flow of this book was so well done as these two navigated the bumps in their lives. I loved where the epilogue left them, but I'll say right here that I will be reading the next book in the series when it comes out because I know that I haven't gotten enough of these two people.
Anonymous 8 months ago
I love the characters. Unique and flawed but perfect for each other.
Anonymous 9 months ago
Loved the whole story! So many highs, lows, fears, and triumphs, and just plain happiness. A great book about life.
UpAllNightBB 9 months ago
Riven by Roan Parrish is my first read by this author and I was hooked the minute I started reading. It was a mix of two of my favorite romance genres, Rockstar and M/M with a bit of an age gap thrown in. Theo is dubbed the Reluctant Rockstar by the media and while his fans may think that it is just a persona, the title is a true reflection of his hatred to the fame. He loves the music just not everything else that comes with it. Caleb has been where Theo is, only he loved the fame and everything that came with just a bit too much. After multiple stints in rehab he finally has his life together and plans to keep it that way. Theo wasn't a part of those plans, but the more time that they spend together the more his plans change. I loved Theo and Caleb, they were the perfect couple. They complemented each other in the best of ways. Not to mention the chemistry between them, HOT! Their story was realistic, with multiple ups and downs and no easy fixes in sight. I only wish that there was more interaction with the secondary characters, I absolutely adored Rhys and I think that Ethan had the potential to become a great character if he had been given more of a voice. 4.5 stars *Review by Amy W., Late Night Reviewer for Up All Night w/ Books Blog*
Anonymous 9 months ago
I'm a first time reader of the author, but let me tell you she did not disappoint! Theo and Caleb relationship is beautiful, I was so sad when I finished the book, I wanted more. I'm a new fan of the author, I can't wait to read her other work.
2kasmom 10 months ago
Theo is a rockstar with all the fame that it comes with. Meeting Caleb changes everything. When he meets someone who he could finally see a future - will the exposure ruin all he has gained? Caleb has been the guy on tour. He does not need it again. Writing music is satisfying on many levels. Then he meets someone who opens up that closed door. Is there a future for an old musician? These two are meant to be. I loved reading about them finding their way. Characters so unique, that they have to fall apart to come together. Really hoping there is more to this story and we will see this couple again. ***This ARC copy was given in exchange for an honest review, by Netgalley and its publishers.
sweetpotato101 10 months ago
I hadn’t read anything by Roan Parrish in a while and the cover of Riven really caught my eye. It’s a rock-star romance all about finding your way. Theo Decker is the lead singer/songwriter for his rock band, Riven. But touring isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, he absolutely hates it. So, falling into Caleb—a man who loved it all too hard and lost it—leaves Theo floundering as much as it cements him in place. I really enjoyed both of these characters, and right away, you could feel the chemistry. Caleb has some demons, battling with addiction, and his draw to Theo has Caleb wondering if he’s simply trading one addiction for another. That, and Theo is deep into the music scene. Something that left Caleb high and dry. I admired Caleb so hard. He has to think about each of his decisions and really dig into the why of it all. Heart. Throbs. Then there’s Theo who has this mega cute, awkward vibe. He pulls Caleb into risking again, but Theo has his own issues in the music world, too, and they’re pulled in different directions. My only complaint was that the latter half didn’t have that pull the first half did. I kept putting the book down because it fell into a pattern of break up, make up, break up, etc. That tension was missing. However, this had some beautiful lines and wonderful imagery, and it just made me want to listen to music. Caleb and Theo are two characters who will pull you in. 4 stars!
SandraHoover 10 months ago
Readers Beware! Riven is raw, seductive, and highly addictive! Once you partake, you'll be hopelessly hooked and craving more, more, more . . . more of Theo & Caleb, more of their sensual, passionate story & music, more of this author's rhythmic, unique voice. What struck me like a lightning bolt about this story is the "honesty" resonating throughout, growing stronger & more demanding beat by beat. Although denied by both men for a long time, it drives both main characters to finally face the haunting, debilitating truths holding them each back individually. There's little doubt that Riven is character driven - the story of two men consumed heart and soul by music in its purest form. Caleb's career has waned as he succumbed to the rock lifestyle and is now paying his penance - left believing that the only hope for his sanity and survival is giving up the very thing that keeps his heart beating - music and everything & everyone associated with it. On the other hand, Theo is riding the monster crest of fame, but he's drowning under the never-ending adoration of fans and the relentless pursuit of paparazzi - a reluctant rock star in that he hates the fame, lifestyle, and all it entails. He, like Caleb, lives for the music and songs reverberating in his head. As this story opens, the two men meet and their erotic, passionate, troubled journey begins. Their chemistry is electric, and readers are gifted with love scenes that are highly combustible. Parrish's characterizations are authentic - so real and powerful and explosive that my heart overflowed with their truths and turmoil. There's a song from Dan Hill (later recorded by other artists) from way back that portrays Theo & Caleb and their conflicted emotions and inner battles best for me (it is not used in this book). I began hearing it in my head as this story played out and will quote it here as it describes the way I saw and felt these two men better than my own words can. The chorus goes like this: Sometimes when we touch, The honesty's too much, And I have to close my eyes & hide. I wanna hold you 'til I die, 'Til we both break down & cry, I wanna hold you till the fear in me subsides. (*by Dan Hill - Protected by copyright) The honesty and love of these two men for music and each other is painful, all-consuming, & overwhelming at times as they work through their fears in an effort to move forward. And yet, through it all, they always feel genuine. Riven is NOT your typical Rock Star story; in fact, there's nothing "typical" about this book. It's a gift, a rare treasure - one readers only dream of discovering once in a blue moon hidden among all the other books on the shelf. The sensuous yet mysterious siren of a cover seduced me into taking a closer look at this book, and the blurb sealed the deal. I decided to take a chance on it and am so glad I did. Roan Parrish has delivered a story and characters that will forever play in my head, heart, and soul. All I can ask is "More, please!" A Page Burning, Must Read!
SRKirchner 10 months ago
I love angst, and this book definitely delivered. There were times when I wanted to shake Caleb, and times when I definitely wondered why Theo kept giving him another chance, but in the end, their love won out. The ending definitely made all the struggles worthwhile. Wonderful, engaging, and super hot prose. I'll definitely be reading more by this author.
CRISSYM 10 months ago
Let me start off by saying I'm not sure what it is about this cover but I love it. Riven was such a great rock star romance read. I absolutely loved Theo and Caleb and I also enjoyed the side characters. You have two people who are broken in very different ways trying to do what's right for them but realizing that everything has its risk and sometimes the risk is worth reward. They just have to have enough faith and love to take that leap. This is the first book I've read from this author and I definitely look forward to reading more of her work. I would definitely recommend this book. It's a great book for readers that enjoy a good m/m romance read.
amatate 10 months ago
When I heard Miss Parrish was writing a rock star romance, I was intrigued. That intrigue only grew once I saw the gorgeous cover of Riven. Rock star romances were my first trope of choice when I began reading contemporary romances years ago, so I’ve read a lot of variations. I’ve also read many of this author’s works, and while I’m always in awe of her ability to weave words and bring a scene to life, I didn’t know quite what to expect going into Riven. I shouldn’t be surprised, but I was. Riven had just enough colorful descriptions, palpable emotions, and unique characters to set it apart from the standard rock star romance, while managing to keep the characters accessible and the story believable. Both Theo and Caleb had a bit of the tortured musician vibe and, despite being in very different places in their lives and careers, they understood each other incredibly well from the start- especially when music was involved. I loved their chemistry- both the smoldering physical side and that strong, easy connection that felt “right”. It was woven into the dialogue, actions, touches, and their thoughts, and I never once questioned these two belonged together. Though the characters were broody and dealt with serious issues, I’d consider Riven a relatively low angst book. The writing flowed beautifully and I didn’t want to put it down at all. To cap it off, the ending was perfect. I’m always a sucker when a book takes an unexpected direction, and the major resolution in Riven did just that. As a fan of this author, I shouldn’t have been surprised Riven was different than expected, but it was and I absolutely loved everything about it, so much so that I fully expect it to remain a top favorite for a very long while. *eARC received via Netgalley. The author and publisher had no influence over this review*
iScreamBooksBlog 10 months ago
"Ghosts of the past and hopes for the future were a dangerous cocktail." Yeah, you guessed it. I found another rockstar romance that led me to a new-to-me author. I've found some amazing rockers and some even more amazing authors this way, and Riven was indeed #AMAZING. Look out Roan Parrish, you have a new fan, so prepare to be stalked. I can't describe the experience of reading this story more clearly than by saying that you made me feel your words. You put me in the heads and hearts of your characters and made me love them, flaws and all. Theo has been tagged by the media as The Reluctant Rock Star. Nobody can deny he's extremely talented. His fans and his band members agree that his songwriting, vocal ability, and concert performances are outstanding. It's all the rest of it that sucks. Joining an established band as the lead singer is a daunting experience when the other band members have a longstanding relationship and can finish each other's sentences. Talent alone is not enough to make him fit in and he can't help feeling like he's on the outside of that relationship. The question is, are they making him feel that way or is it all in his head? And then there's photo shoots, album covers, videos, and interviews. While his bandmates are excited and thrilled at the process and attention, he'd rather be home alone writing songs. While they love being recognized and gushed over by fans, he'd rather remain anonymous. WTF? When faced with all his blessings he feels ashamed of these feelings. He has so much to be grateful for. However, there's some truth in the statement, "If I learned anything in this business, it's that getting what you thought you wanted doesn't necessarily feel anything like what you thought it would." Fan acceptance doesn't replace previous rejection. Record sales don't equal love and support. Being in the spotlight doesn't erase those times he was ignored. He feels alone in spite of rarely being by himself. He heard Caleb before he ever saw him. His music called to him as he walked by a bar, at night, wearing his hat to hide from his fans. He was drawn to the guitar playing but once he got a look at him he couldn't avoid his lustful thoughts. Their chemistry was immediate, both musically and physically. Would one night be enough? It would have to be because Theo was leaving on tour the next day... Caleb knows that Theo is the last thing he needs at this stage in his life. He didn't let on that he recognized him, but he knows Theo is the lead singer of the successful band, Riven. He's made a point of isolating himself, living a loner lifestyle. He doesn't want the eyes that are constantly following Theo to find him. But he wants him... Okay, I set it up for you. Two sexy, talented, very broken musicians who suck up all the oxygen in the room when they are in it. The irresistible force that pulls them toward each other and the many very good reasons why it's not a good idea. But let me tell you, for such a bad idea, it feels oh so good to both of them. And as for this virtual voyeur, I give their performance two thumbs up. And I'm not talking about their music (wink-wink). I really enjoyed the music industry details in this story. The songwriting process, the concerts, the touring, and the recording. And I really loved the author's writing style. I will most definitely be looking forward to whatever she has for her readers next. The line forms here...
cordee 10 months ago
When you open a book and you connect to the characters instantly and they touch you deeply, it's already a good sign. If the story speaks to you then you are on a good way to your next favorite. Roan Parrish is a new-to-me author and this is what happened to me when I started reading Riven. Theo lives everybody else's dream. He is the lead singer one of the most popular bands, Riven. He and his bandmates sell buckets of records and make a ridiculous amount of money. The problem? Theo loves performing but hates hates the fame that comes with being a superstar. On a short stop at home while touring he meets Caleb and they connect instantly through music. Caleb is a recovering drug addict and a former well known musician. These days he doesn't perform anymore - too big is the fear to fall back into old patterns. His one-night-stand with Theo suits him just right because the gorgeous man is drug-material and he just can't replace one addiction with another. But the rockstar is nothing if not tenacious and a couple of weeks later he shows up at Caleb's doorstep, temptation personified and a delicious dance of push and pull begins. First let me gush a little about these two characters. How cute were they? Seriously? On-stage Theo is a charismatic frontman who wraps his audience around his fingers. He captivates people with his voice and words and talent. Off-stage he is adorably shy and awkward. He's also extremely forgiving but I never felt that he was a doormat. There was something very refreshing about his honesty. Theo doesn't know how to not show his feelings. They just bubble out of him and it's what makes him so extremely lovable. I wanted to wrap him up in bubble wrap and keep him safe because he needed somebody to give him love and safety. There were so many thoughtful and sweet things he did for Caleb, he was incredible. Caleb fears nothing more than a relapse but he lets this fear rule his life. He stays in his old farmhouse and takes up planting vegetables and basically goes through the motions. Theo rattles something inside of him and it scares the living daylights out of him. Caleb pushes Theo away, again and again, and faithful, sweet and forgiving Theo totally has Caleb's number so it's easy for him to forgive the man he's falling in love with. Usually I get really annoyed when there is too much pushing away going on - not with Caleb. It was so clear right from the start, so understandable why he did it. There just wasn't a reason to be mad at him. His fears were totally valid - a relapse was a possibility, but little by little he realized that Theo was his strength and not his weakness. These two were multi-layered characters who had a wonderful and easy connection, in tune with each other. Theo has some issues too but he loved with an open heart and had an astonishingly positive outlook. I swear to God I choked up a couple of times because his loneliness really got to me. Caleb's need for distance was really hard on him. I found myself utterly charmed by the whole cast of this book. Not only the two main characters were delightful, Caleb's best friend Rhys was amazing too. It was so good to see that Caleb had somebody who loved him with all his deficiencies and flaws and was just a rock for him when things got really hard. Riven is a fast read and kept me invested throughout the whole story. Ms Parrish has a new fan. This book is written with heart and feeling - it's a story this author can be proud of.
Jolie 10 months ago
I haven’t read a lot of romance with rock stars in them. For some reason, I never read one when they were the big thing. So, I saw Riven up for review on Loveswept’s NetGalley page, I decided to request it. Plus, I love romances were both parties are damaged. It makes the romance more realistic and the big “I Love You” scene so much sweeter to read. Another reason I requested the book was because of the cover. I loved it. Simple with only the headshot of the model. The romance aspect of Riven was intense. I got goosebumps because their attraction carried off my Kindle. Of course, Caleb tries to go and ruin it all. But I could understand why he fought it so hard. Every single relationship he ever had been ruined by his actions. He felt that it would be better keeping people at arm’s length. Then he met Theo. On Theo’s end, he craved affection. He did come across as a little too needy during parts of the book. His neediness both made me like and dislike him. He was shattered every time he and Caleb fought. It got old after a while. The sex scenes were amazing. They were so hot and dirty. Man were they dirty. I did think that the sex scene also got repetitive after a while, though. I understand tops and bottoms (look it up if you don’t know) but I wanted to see Theo on top at least once. There was also one sex scene that made me want to throw up in my mouth. I won’t get into it but I will say that I hope Theo wiped well because Caleb did what he did. Other than those two complaints, I loved the sex scenes!! I couldn’t understand why Theo never finished a sentence. A good part of his sentences ended in “…..“. Which drove me bat-poop crazy. I hate it what the character always trails off. I get why the author had Theo do it but still. Speaking of Theo, I liked how his character was written. He was damaged but not as bad as Caleb was. His damage came from his parents being distant and cold to him. That affected him in everything that he did. He chased men for the warmth he got during his sexual encounters. So I understood when he clung to Caleb and why he was so upset when they fought. I do think that what happened with the band should have happened earlier. Theo would have been way happier. I loved Caleb. The author did a great job of capturing the rocky slope that he dealt with to keep his sobriety. He spoke candidly of relapsing to Theo and made no promises that he wouldn’t do it in the future. I also liked the fear he had about his music and not being able to play. A very real fear considering what went with the lifestyle before. I do think that he could have been a bit nicer to Theo about certain things. But he wasn’t. Even that turned out in his favor. The end of Riven was emotionally charged. I cried when Caleb did what he did for Theo. I cried for Theo. I cried because of everything that was said. I cried. So, be warned, it is a tear-jerker.
NatReadsMM 10 months ago
I love a good rock star story and this was sooo good! It was a refreshing twist on the trope with not one but two reluctant rock stars looking at fame from different sides. Theo just wants to sing the music he writes but the rest of the Riven band members seem resentful of the extra attention he draws, leaving him feeling isolated and alone. On a rare night out for both men, Theo happens to overhear Caleb playing and singing in his friend Huey’s bar. They both feel a pull towards each other but Caleb has no desire to be noticed and Theo gets too much recognition. Theo doesn’t want to let him go and Caleb slowly brings him into his life. It’s still often a struggle for them to be together for so many different reasons. This was raw and emotional, touching and sweet. The musical theme also creates some truly beautiful moments between the couple. Even secondary characters in this story were distinctive and unique, especially Caleb’s friends Rhys and Huey. Seeing everything happen through perspectives from both MC’s added so much impact; Caleb’s fears of a relapse and Theo hoping to help him return to his music. The plot was really original compared to many rock star themes I’ve read before, avoided cliches and creates more than one moment of tension and conflict. Caleb felt a little too melodramatic a couple of times, despite how much I could empathize with his problems. Caleb and Theo had terrific chemistry on-page, with enough of an age gap for extra interest, plus just the right level of heat. It was an immersive read, offering complex individuals and unique situations that gave me as much enjoyment as “In the Middle of Somewhere”, my first favorite from this author. I’m also seeing a book coming soon, Rend, that appears to be related to Riven. I’m not sure who or what it will be about but I’ll be watching for it. I’d definitely recommend reading this one.
HEABookNerd 10 months ago
After finishing Riven I’m finding it hard to put a review into words considering the roller coaster of emotions Roan Parrish has put me through. She ripped my heart out and then beautifully put it back together. I’ll start by saying that I really enjoyed the book and spent the entire time wishing I could hug both Theo and Caleb just to make them feel better. I’m generally not a fan of rock star romances because the rock star tends to be full of themselves and their fame so I was immediately intrigued by the idea of the “Reluctant Rock Star” as Theo Decker is called in the book. All Theo has ever wanted is to be accepted and to play his music for others. He never guessed that the band he joins, Riven, would become so popular or that fame would come with such a heavy price tag. Theo is introverted and solitary and though he loves the energy and power of performing to a massive crowd he hates the paparazzi, the constant attention, and the lack of privacy. There is something very innocent and almost naive about Theo but at the same time, he’s fairly savvy about the entertainment industry, just sometimes more concerned with disappointing others to the detriment of himself. When Caleb Blake Whitman meets Theo he knows exactly who he is but he can’t stop himself from spending the night with him. When Theo shows up wanting more than just a single night, Caleb is hesitant to get sucked back into the life that left him at rock bottom. A year clean, Caleb is doing everything he can to make sure he doesn’t fail this time but that also means he’s barely living and Theo is a complication he’s not sure he wants. I felt so much for Caleb and the dilemma he faced; he still loves writing and playing music, but he’s terrified that indulging in even the smallest part of it could be his downfall. Parrish does an excellent job of showing the reader how conflicted Caleb is about his life, his future, and his happiness. Though both Theo and Caleb are struggling with their emotional responses to each other, they can’t stay away and when they’re together it fireworks. The chemistry was there from the very beginning and their shared passion for music just enhances their comfort with each other. Not only that but Caleb and his remote home, act as a balm for Theo’s stressed and overwhelmed soul. Caleb really becomes Theo’s rock in the storm that is his celebrity life. That being said, there is nothing easy about Theo and Caleb’s relationship and it’s fraught with a push-and-pull element as Caleb battles his inner demons. This results in one small part of the story I wish hadn’t happened, purely out of personal preference: Theo sleeps with someone else while they are broken up. However, this did not detract from my rating or overall enjoyment of the book because it was only mentioned once and Parrish is such an exceptional storyteller that I kept going but I wanted to mention it since I know I’m not the only reader out there who might be bothered by this. For once, I don’t know if my review can really express what I enjoyed about this book because it’s so hard to explain in words something that is felt so deeply. This truly speaks to how amazing a writer Parrish is because she masterfully accomplished this and easily dragged me along for the ride.