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.
One Night Stand
Riven is pretty much the antithesis of the rock star romances I’ve read all my life, and I absolutely fucking loved it.
Despite my growing admiration for the author’s evolving style, I still I found myself entirely unprepared for the raw and decadent treat that was Riven. Quite simply, never have I read a book so steeped in musicality as Theo and Caleb’s story. Parrish’s gritty yet lyrical style was pitch perfect not just in describing the music, but the creative process as well. Not only did I love the way the author brought both heroes to life through their mutual love for music (and later each other), I was also hugely impressed and frankly in awe of the way this book, like its heroes, lived and breathed music.
His tongue was an instrument, and he kissed me like he was playing a song, coming on strong, easing off, building to a crest, changing the rhythm.
Gorgeous writing aside, I found that their story hit all the right notes for me. Theo and Caleb not only made sense together, they were absolutely perfect together. The very idea of Caleb, the “gentleman brute” paired with Theo’s shy, slinky self was too delicious for words. I loved the heat between them, their passion for music and most of all, their quiet ribbing that evoked just as much intimacy for me as their lovemaking. Their back and forths, coming and goings, ups and downs, all felt realistic to me, and the magic when they came together – musically or otherwise – took my breath away.
“Sorry. I, uh, I kinda pulled a rock star moment and assumed it was about me, huh?”
“Yeah, ya did.” He grinned at me, then knocked my hat off into my lap and ruffled my hair. “Guess I’ll have to fuck the rock star right outta you.”
The book opens with a telling glimpse into Theo’s mindset and the dynamics that make up the band Riven. From the very first chapter, I was immediately struck by how lonely Theo was, how distant he felt from the rest of the band despite the magic they spun onstage every night. I was intrigued by the group dynamics, then captivated by our heroes’ first encounter, but the moment I got a proper look at Caleb’s life, I was an absolute goner.
The way he talked about his life as if it were over. The way he spoke about music as part of the past, wistfully, like a lover who had left him.
Caleb was an easy character to fall in love with. His story was both bleak and beautiful, much like the nothingness he surrounded himself with. Committed to staying clean once and for all, he lived a life of exile, deliberately, desperately removing himself from all the temptations of his previous life, even music. It made sense to me that he went to such extremes to get clean but my heart broke for him because he was afraid to trust himself or his desires because in his experience, they always always led him astray.
He was the most in-focus thing I’d ever seen. And I . . . I let him in. Opened the door and let him slip inside as sharp and sweet as a needle.
Despite the respite and quiet joy that Theo’s presence granted him, I really appreciated that Caleb struggled immensely every step of the way and that there was a lot of pushback over the course of their journey together. Some readers might find Caleb’s story tedious or even angsty, but to me his actions felt all too real, borne out of desperation and fear.
He stood before me, so clean and shiny, the world at his feet. And in that moment, I hated him.
And the end result was in my mind, so worth it. I’d noticed that the author favors big gestures to reconcile her lovers. This doesn’t always work for me but in this case I thought the gesture was so full of meaning. By the end of the epilogue, Riven had me floating on cloud nine – no mean feat for such a powerful, intense read. Highly recommended.
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.
She is represented by Courtney Miller-Callihan of Handspun Literary Agency.
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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.