Cover Image: Riven


Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Theo Decker is the lead singer of the rock band Riven. He loves the music and the energy of crowd when he sings, but he hates pretty much everything else about being a rock star. Now that Riven has risen to fame, Theo can’t escape the pressures of his life. He hates touring, can’t avoid the press, doesn’t feel like he fits in with the band, and longs for anonymity. Theo doesn’t quite know how things all happened so fast, but now he is stuck in a life that he doesn’t really want, but sees no real way to escape if he wants to continue with his music.

Caleb Blake Whitman used to be a musician himself, but after multiple bouts with addiction and rehab, he stays far away from music. Caleb just doesn’t know how to trust himself in that world anymore, and so he avoids it, living in a quiet farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. When he meets Theo one night, the guys act on their instant attraction and figure that will be the end of it. But neither can deny the connection between them, and they are drawn back together despite themselves.

Caleb is wary at first. Theo is living the kind of life that led Caleb into addiction and Caleb isn’t sure he can trust himself to be around Theo. He has only been surviving by making a clean break. But the bond the men share is intense, and just maybe if Caleb can trust himself and Theo, they can take a chance on something real. For Theo, Caleb offers the only solace in a life that is becoming unbearable. He loves his music, but the price might be too high. Now he must figure out if there is a way to keep music in his life, while still finding a way to be happy. If the men can count on each other, they may find that they can make it through their challenges together.

One of the things I have often said about Roan Parrish’s writing is that she really excels at developing her characters and Riven is a great example of that. This is a story really led by these characters, with much of the book focused solely on the two of them and their interactions with each other. It could have made the book feel slow, but Parrish does such an amazing job making Caleb and Theo layered and fascinating that I was totally drawn into their story and just couldn’t put this book down.

What is so engrossing here is that we have two men who are both incredibly passionate about music; there is no doubt that it is part of both of them. But at the same time, they each have a complicated relationship with this passion. Living life as a musician led Caleb to partying and drugs and addiction, time and again. He has managed to break free, but it is a fragile thing, and Caleb worries being with Theo will tip the balance. He wants nothing more than to perform again, but worries the price is too high. For Theo, the price is high as well. He loves singing, loves connecting with the crowd, and loves writing music. But everything else that goes along with it makes him miserable. Theo could have come across spoiled or ungrateful, but Parrish really lets us see why it is all too much for him. There is a lovely naiveté to Theo, a sense of being just not quite hearty enough for the life he has chosen. Each of these men is struggling for different reasons and I love the way that their connection with one another is able to bolster them and give them strength to make the moves forward that they need.

Riven is just so beautifully written, I fell in love with both Caleb and Theo and was captivated by their story. For such a quiet book, there is an intensity here and I just couldn’t put it down. The story is romantic and sexy and just made me want to wrap these guys up and cheer them forward. I can definitely recommend this one highly.

P.S. OMG, that cover, right?
Was this review helpful?
I am so thankful that I found this new-to-me author and I got the chance to review this book series.
Theo Decker may look like he has everything that a person could ever want…more money than he could ever possibly spend in his lifetime, superstar fame, and a voice and musical talent that is beyond amazing and gifted! But he doesn’t have what he really needs. He doesn’t have the ability to go out for a simple bowl of soup or cup of coffee without being recognized and mobbed. He can’t even go for a walk to clear his head. He loves what he does, preforming and writing his music for his fans, but he just needs a bit of privacy so he can collect his thoughts. Oh, and some one to truly love him, something he has never experienced before in his life. Caleb Blake Whitman is finally getting back on his feet. He may be shaky but, with the help of his friend Rhys and his sponsor Huey, he is starting to moving forward…maybe the fourth time will finally take? One night, at Huey’s bar in the city, Caleb is sitting and playing his guitar while singing. Theo is halted by the music and goes in to watch. Both men seem to be mesmerized by the other and then one thing leads to another and soon a night of exhilarating passion and phenomenal sex occurs. When Theo wakes up the next morning Caleb is gone but he sticks with him as Theo goes on the next leg of the tour. When he can’t get him off of his mind Theo has his agent figure out where Caleb is. When Theo shows up on Caleb’s country farm they both know there is something there but can they take a chance on it or will Caleb’s problems be too much to be with a superstar?
This book really opened my eyes to something I hadn’t thought about before. When I was young I knew what all the guys names and faces were in bands like The Beatles and The Monkeys. But now it tends to be just the front man that gets known and chased while his band mates get to step out and not be so easily recognizable. I loved that Theo was so wrapped up in his music and that he wasn’t a diva that craved that attention. It was the music in him that led him, not the fame and its trappings. I also loved his naivety. He was so absorbed in the creating music that he never realized that he was taking the full brunt of the media storm. When he and Ethan finally discussed his being mobbed I think that at least Ethan finally was understanding who the real Theo was and what his life was like. I think that Coco did too somewhat but Ven craved what Theo was getting and was extremely jealous of all the attention and stardom he received but didn’t want.
I fell for both men. Theo because he was this sweet, wonderful guy that just wanted to create music and be loved. But Caleb, and his addiction, was it for me. The fight that he endured daily to try and stay clean. What he was willing to try and endure so that he could be with Theo. Especially when Theo pushed. I get that he was scared. Four times in rehab would make you very leery. And I get that he felt like a failure to those around him. He kept disappointing them each time he failed. What he failed to recognize was that they all still loved him and just wanted the best for him. I think that it took a sweet, naïve guy to show the old, broken Caleb that life and love was not only possible but obtainable for the long haul.
That is what I loved about this book. It gave life a chance and made it sweet and caring. Was their journey easy…Hell No! But was it worth all the confusion, self-doubt and second guessing…a resounding Hell Yes! I was invested in these characters and wanted to see how they would make it work against all the overwhelming odds. It is no secret that I love Rock Star series but this was more than a rock star on tour book. This was the book of all the trappings that can come from being a star and how to survive them and still get your songs out. It was the story of pain and perseverance to be the person you wanted to be. And, above all else, it was the story of Love! Love isn’t always easy but it is so worth the trip to get to the good stuff! As you can probably tell, I really, really loved this book and didn’t want it to end! A HUGE THUMBS UP!!!
Was this review helpful?
Theo Decker is the lead singer of Riven, a rock band formed by his three bandmates: Coco, Ven and Ethan. He was brought on board and his vocals and songs have propelled the band into stardom. But, Theo's always felt like the odd-man-out, in his band and his family. Disconnected and frustrated by the stifling trappings of his unwanted fame, he stumbles into a dark bar called by a haunting tune drifting into the alley.

Caleb Blake Whitman was a top blues guitarist and songwriter, but for trips to rehab has left him a shell of the vibrant man he'd been. Clean from his heroin habit for the past year, he's just starting to write songs again. Meeting the sexy, yet shy Theo isn't in his life plan. They have some serious chemistry in the bedroom--so much so that Theo tracks Caleb down when he's off tour. Caleb isn't thrilled about the prospect of dating a rock star because fame brings drugs--and he's unsure if he can be around Theo and avoid the pull of his addictions.

I liked the slow steps these guys took into making their relationship work. Theo only feels truly at home when he's near Caleb. They build a camaraderie that makes a safe zone for Caleb to write music again--songs for himself, for his former lover and best-friend, and songs for Theo. Theo's writing is changing, too, and his new music isn't in sync with Riven's style or brand. Being loved by Caleb is a big bolster to Theo's self-esteem. His disenchantment with touring and fame has been taking a huge toll on his emotional health. The few times Caleb's able to be with Theo when he performs are big steps for both of them, but Caleb's fear of failing in his sobriety is a huge barrier to their happiness. Caleb holds Theo at arm's length in fear that the love he's feeling is too close the the high he got while using. It's a tough balance actually, and takes some hard truths from his sponsor and his bestie to get past his fear.

Theo's ready for a big change, and while he's been building some stronger friendships within the band, he knows that continuing that lifestyle is untenable. Especially if he's going to build a life with Caleb. Theo's emotions are so palpable, and overwhelming. He's a guy who craves love, and Caleb's attention is the most love he's had in a long time, maybe ever. I liked this one a lot. Theo and Caleb are both out, and their problems aren't related to their sexuality. Instead, they struggle with finding healthy love that supports and affirms. Theo's sterile childhood set him up for a lonely adulthood, which is paradoxically reinforced by his fame. Caleb never had a problem with fame, it's drugs that ruined his life and career. Each man has to learn to love himself, first, and that helps them to each be better partners for the other. It's a sweet story with yummy sexytimes.
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed this story. Roan does an amazing job grabbing your imagination and keeping you hooked.
Was this review helpful?
*this book was given to me in exchange for an honest review*
3.5 stars!
Theo...lead singer in Riven, battles internally on many levels. His parents: he can never live up to their standards.  He didn’t follow the dreams that they set forth; therefore, any other future is not going to fit in their perfect little box. His band mates: they want the ultimate dream of rockstar status, where Theo just wants to create solid music. His relationships: he keeps everyone on a surface level. Plenty of one-night stands, where he doesn’t have to allow anyone to truly know him. He’s struggling with his current position in life, because of these things. As he’s strolling thru town on his off day from the tour, he waltzes into a bar when he hears this beautiful voice singing. This is when he meets Caleb...
Caleb had his time in the spotlight. He took full advantage of his rockstar status, which lead to multiple relapses due to his drug addiction. Currently, he’s a shell, and stumbles thru life. He’s so worried about screwing things up again, that he’s truly not living his life. He’s s hermit living on a farm, away from the world that once idolized him. Theo strolls into the bar that’s owned by his sponsor, and Caleb recognizes him immediately.
Caleb and Theo start a hesitant relationship...Caleb is still so fragile in his sobriety, and Theo wants to jump right in to a relationship. They balance each other out well...Theo seems to be scared of standing on his own, and Caleb is equally terrified that he’ll screw things up.  They worked well for me, but the story was a bit slow. Defined some hot scenes, but I found myself skimming sentences rather than being fully engaged in the story.
Was this review helpful?
Riven was on my TBR list for longer than I'd like to admit. Requesting more books than I truly had time to read used to be a true problem of mine and I am now slowly making my way through the never-ending list.

Once a review book has sat on my shelf for so long, when I finally pick it up, I choose not to read the synopsis. The book obviously caught my attention when I first saw it so I like to go in blind and discover , on the journey, why the book originally spoke to me.

Upon starting the book, I was pleased to discover that it's an m/m romance, a genre that I absolutely love when done right. Riven was definitely done right. I was immediately caught up in Theo's story and his relationship with Caleb.

They both were fighting demons that they didn't understand or know how to control and it gave their characters truly beautiful and believable personas. The way the two interacted together was addicting and, though I was pretty sure I knew how their stories were going to play out, it was no less enjoyable to experience.

Roan Parrish did and amazing job with this book and I definitely need to read the rest in this series.
Was this review helpful?
I absolutely love Roan writing and this was no different. I felt an immediate connection to both of the main characters. Basically, he can do no wrong in his writing and I can't wait for what he does next.
Was this review helpful?
Honestly I've only read one other Roan Parrish novel but it made such a strong impression that when I saw NetGalley was offering chances to read her new series, I had to request Riven (thank you NetGalley for approving me!). 

I think the thing I really enjoyed about Riven is that it's a relatively quiet novel. I mean, sure it features a famous rock star, but really it features him on a very intimate and small scale. It's not so much about him being a STAR! but about how much he doesn't value that adjective--he really just wants to make a living off of making music and being good at it. I loved that about Theo--he's not driven for the accolades but for the love of making music. And, I loved how he found a home in Caleb. They worked, even when they didn't. They both needed to learn to trust and to love fearlessly...or at least to confront the fears head on...and it was their journey to figuring it all out that drew me to this novel and kept me reading it.

Simply put,  I really appreciated and enjoyed their love story. It wasn't always easy, never really big and splashy, but it felt real and challenging and that's what I'm discovering I really enjoy about Parrish's work. She really digs in to her characters and doesn't relinquish them until they've been totally excavated. Not sure if that makes sense, but I dig what she does.
Was this review helpful?
It started poorly for me because the purple prose was out in full force. This author loves her words and she loves to use all of them at the same time. What could be said in 4 words, she uses 20. It kept pulling me out of the story and by 15% I was thinking about dnf-ing this. I liked the overall plot enough to push through and by the mid way mark it either got better or I became numb to it.
Was this review helpful?
3.75 This was an emotional read for me. There were a boatload of warm fuzzies in Theo and Caleb's relationship: music, understanding, and hot sex? Definitely more please! These guys were powerful together.

On the flip side, the powerful emotions went both ways. For me, the lows they fell to from their heights persisted for far too long a time. They'd argue and hurt each other and run/shove each other away and then be parted for week(s)! I know they're both damaged, and Caleb is just coming back from an incredibly bad place, but I simply can't not work things out right after an argument.  I really thought they might be over after that last cataclysm! (Thank Gods they weren't!)
Was this review helpful?
Roan Parrish has written a wildly entertaining and engrossing book. Theo Decker is the reluctant Rockstar for the wildly successful band, Riven. He loves the music but hates all the hoopla with the paparazzi, interviews, lack of privacy, etc. that comes from being a Rockstar. After a very hectic and tiring tour, Theo was happy to get a day off to de-stress and rest in his own space before heading back on the road. After sleeping most of the day away, Theo decides to get food and go for a walk, incognito. As Theo heads back home, as he passes a dive bar, where he hears the soulful sound of a guitar that calls to him. In the bar, he sees a guy sitting on a stool playing the guitar. the guy is lost in the music and Theo is pulled like a puppet on a string to him.

As the music ends, Caleb opens his eyes to see this guy sitting close to him listening. Of course, he recognizes Riven's lead singer, Theo Decker. He doesn’t let on that he recognizes him because he is fascinated by how Theo has managed to breakdown the feelings he got from listening to him play. After the bar closes, Theo invites Caleb to walk with him. Caleb says yes and they spend the rest of the night walking and talking about music. Before the night ends, Not wanting to end being with Caleb, Theo invites Caleb to spends the night with him. The next morning, Caleb was gone and Theo had to go back on tour.

Caleb can’t forget the night he spent with Theo. But after finally getting on his feet after his last stint in Rehab, he can’t afford any distractions or the temptations that being around the music business brings. Theo also can’t forget Caleb and once he gets back from tour, he decides to his resource to find where Caleb lives. When Theo turns up on Caleb’s doorstep, Caleb can’t send him away but he is cautious about how this relationship will work.

Roan Parrish manages to bring you into the world of these two people and it’s like you are living their lives and feeling all their pain and anxieties and ultimate joy of finding each other. This is a must read because it runs the gamut of emotions and gives a HEA that is worth all the obstacles thrown at these two characters. This is, for me, another book to add to my re-reading & keeper pile. Also, you’ll get a little tie-in that connects this book with Roan’s In the Middle of Somewhere series. If you have read the first book of this series, you’ll see the connection of Theo being in Philly for a show. If not, what are you waiting for? I am voluntarily reviewing this book after receiving a free copy from NetGalley.
Was this review helpful?
I had heard some buzz about this author and took a chance on her without knowing much about the book, and I’m so glad I did! This is a really great contemporary romance and all of the aspects — writing, character arcs, chemistry — are so well polished. I don’t normally like reading in first person, and I still would have preferred third person, but it didn’t grate on me here the way it usually does. The characters were endearing even when they were doing something predictably self-destructive (always a challenge) and I kept turning pages eagerly all the way to the end!
Was this review helpful?
Theo was just so sweet and sexy I kinda fell in love with him too. This wasn’t as angsty as I thought it would be, but it had all the feels. Theo and Caleb were both miserable with their lives in the beginning, and their HEA was earned and deserved and pretty damn awesome.

Theo was so famous but didn’t have many people he was close to, especially because his parents didn’t approve of and weren’t interested in his rock star profession. He hated the fame and didn’t get along very well with his band mates because it seemed they were jealous of him. So, he was very isolated.

Caleb was isolated too, a retired musician living in a somewhat rural town, recovering from addition and having gone to rehab and relapsing several times. But when Theo sees him playing guitar at a small bar, his entire life changes. And he begins to want things he doesn’t believe he should and is afraid of.

Meanwhile, Theo wants things he doesn’t believe he deserves and fears rejection. They have a passionate and rocky relationship, so to speak, and have to find a way to share life together without derailing Caleb’s recovery and Theo’s music. And eventually they also find a way to make music together.

I loved how Theo proved to be understanding of Caleb’s struggles and fears, and how patient he was with Caleb. And I loved how Caleb came through for Theo despite his anxiety, and did his best to make Theo happy.

The characters were so well-written, and Theo’s character was one of the most compelling I’ve read in an m/m romance. Reluctant rock star with a heart of gold, naive in some ways, but wise in others, and incredibly gifted. Thoughtful, genuine, and giving.

I’m kinda torn between wanting to know the lyrics to the songs he made, especially the one for him and Caleb, but wondering if knowing what the song meant to them without actually knowing the lyrics was enough.

The epilogue was freaking perfect, down to the very last line, and I’ll never forget the images and emotions the final scenes evoked.

I look forward to Rend, the next book in the series, focusing on Caleb’s best friend Rhys and Rhys’s rocky marriage, so to speak.
Was this review helpful?
This was a fine book. From the reviews I expected this amazing tale & While this book is far from bad, it definitely did not live up to the hype. I really enjoyed the main character Theo. He’s funny, emotional, dramatic and a mess. My only criticism about him is that he’s written as this super cute, innocent & naive man but there’s a fine line between naivety & sheer stupidity. Him being naive was cute at the beginning of the book, tolerable throughout the middle, & absolutely annoying & insufferable during the ending. Regardless, I still wanted to follow his story. The other main character Caleb, however, i just simply found boring? I mean I didn’t feel as if this character had any development. The things he’s talking about at the beginning of the book are the same things he’s talking about at the end. I was just utterly bored with Caleb tbh. BUT when the 2 characters were together it was grand. The chemistry is written very well. Also the best part of this book is by far the musical aspects of it. This author is either well versed is in musicality or they just did their homework well. The descriptions of harmonies, song structures, melodies etc I thought was done extremely well & it made the book really pop. Both characters have passions for music and from the way the author writes about the music process , you feel the characters passion even more effectively
Was this review helpful?
As Riven started, I was afraid that I chose to read a really dark and depressing story.  But, Roan Parrish did a beautiful job of bringing these two men out of the darkness and into the light.  Riven was riveting and ended up being a story that I couldn't put down.  Who would have thought that I would have shed a tear or two at the end of a story that started off so bleak.
Theo.  Personally, I think he had a little touch of ADD.  It came out when he was excited, when he wrote his music.  Frantic at times, mellow at times, always loving and caring about what people thought of him, being a rock star was a very hard life for him.  But, he needed someone to accept him, be proud of him, a family.  His own thought he was nothing but a failure, an embarrassment. He hated the stardom, being recognized but he knew it came with the territory and couldn't do much about it. Until one night and one heart-wrenching song.  There was something about the voice, about the man behind the voice that drew him in.
Caleb.  Sultry, sexy Caleb.  A fallen rock star who is trying to figure out his life after rehab.  He doesn't trust himself.  It's better that he just locks himself away, work the farm and not disappoint anyone anymore.  He can never allow himself the luxury of music again … what if it pulls him back in?  He wouldn't survive.  Then he walked in … sexy, sweet Theo.  Yea, he knew who he was but, there was no way he was turning down the invitation knowing that he would walk away in the morning.  Then he shows up on his doorstep, uninvited, and takes him by storm.  How does he walk away from this?  He knows he'll just destroy him the way he destroys everything that was good in his life.
As the story progresses, they find that the other may be the one to open their eyes, their hearts and be able to live a life full of promises, trust and love doing what they do best.
Wow. Roan Parrish really drew me in with this story.  She wrote some gut-wrenching scenes that had me holding my breath.  The story was fluid, wonderfully written and totally enthralled me.  A beautiful love story about two men who had rough lives but found solace in the arms of the other.
Was this review helpful?
Theo is a beautiful, precious angel and that's all you need to know about this book.

Just kidding, but am I? 

Ok, ok, joking aside, I loved Theo and Caleb's story. This might be the first MM rock start romance I've read and I was super here for that. Theo and Caleb both have things they need to work through but I loved how they lifted each other up and allowed each other to be themselves. Also, their chemistry is EVERYTHING. 

I loved that Theo was so beautiful and quiet and shy and so in love with every aspect of making music. I think Theo and Caleb contrast each other perfectly since Theo is "new" in many ways while Caleb is more of a weathered, disillusioned musician. They make each other see new things that they wouldn't have without the other in their lives.
Was this review helpful?
One of the most striking things about Riven is how much it’s about music, and how composing, performing, and collaborating on music is deeply central and gorgeously, compellingly portrayed. It feels like it captures so much about the intimacy that you can build with other musicians as a musician, the ways the creativity can drive so much about your life, the intensity of relationships that center music. And yes, Theo’s arc is about him reclaiming music for himself and grappling with band dynamics and fame but for me, the reason music is at the center of this story is because Theo and Caleb have such intense musical intimacy together. It made this book feel unique to me, as a rock star romance; the only comparable romance I can think of is Syncopation by Anna Zabo.

I loved Riven so much, found it such an intense and compelling and gorgeous ride of a book that it kind of overwhelmed me, made it hard for me to find words to talk about how much I loved it, to capture what about it felt so unique and precious. It has all the hallmarks of a Parrish romance, from the beautiful language to the intense and deeply drawn angst to the striking chemistry and extremely hot sex scenes to the complex characterization to the way the characters are exactly right together while still being so flawed and human, to the way it honors other relationships beyond the central romantic one. I will basically read everything she writes, even while it tears my heart out and makes me feel so intensely I need to stop and breathe for a bit before continuing. This has all of that in it, and it has this gorgeous specificity and intimacy about music, and an arc around addiction that felt so delicately and specifically drawn that it took my breath away.

I read this first as an ARC, in May 2018, and could not find the words to review, was so overwhelmed by the way it affected me that making words was impossible. This is one of the things that happens to me as an autistic reader; books that hit me in the feels or resonate deeply are really hard to review after one read because I’m mostly just managing how much they impact. I bought it on audio, because I loved it so much, because I adore the narrators (Chris Chambers and Iggy Toma), and because sometimes rereading on audio lets me take a story in more slowly, and I can make words about it. I was right, after listening to the audio, I was able to write this review.

One of the aspects of the story that resonated so deeply was Theo, who felt neuroatypical to me in some ways that really resonated, as an autistic trauma survivor. The way he is so lost in reading people around him, the way he clearly sinks into hyperfocus, how tender and thin-skinned he is and how intensely he feels, how stuck he gets in seeing things in a particular way, how other-focused he is, how thrown he gets when things don’t go the way he expects they will. It might be because I connected to Theo that I especially appreciated his arc, and really enjoyed watching Caleb fall for him. But it was also really lovely to see a character with so much emotional armor who was generally pretty grumpy go all sweet. There is definitely a bit of grump/sunshine dynamic going on in this story.

I also want to mention that Caleb’s arc around recovery and relationships really worked for me, as a reader who has been in relationship with addicts. It felt realistic without going to really dark places, which I appreciated. I love how hopeful this book feels, even when the characters are stuck or are in the muck of their problems and insecurities.

Riven is hands down one of my favorite romances I read in 2018 (and 2019), and an m/m romance I will return to again and again. I loved it on audio in particular, and would highly recommend trying it that way  if you like audiobooks. It is also really wonderful in print formats. I’m excited to be reading Rend right now, which has a lovely strong narrative voice and center’s Caleb’s best friend. This series is shaping up to be a fave all the way through.
Was this review helpful?
Let me just say that while this is my first novel by author Roan Parrish, it will definitely not be the last. This author plumbs the depths of her characters’ inner psyche with incredible precision, making them come alive on the page in such a way as to draw the reader right in and capture the attention immediately. I have read many a story depicting recovering addicts who are film or music/rock stars and have come to hate their craft solely because they feel they have lost their true selves due to having to adopt an onstage persona and always “be on”. In Riven, the first in a new series, Roan Parrish digs down and exposes all the fears, regrets and desires that drive Caleb in his recovery, and Theo in his quest to recapture his passion for music and finally be less critical and more accepting of himself.

Theo is the front man and lead singer for the band, Riven. It is on fire and rising to the top of the charts due to Theo’s incredible writing and singing skills. But Theo himself is exhausted, barely able to go onstage each night as he pours every ounce of his energy into giving a good show. Perhaps it’s because he has never really felt a part of the band, an established trio who needed a singer and managed to land Theo, or maybe it’s due to the fact that Theo’s parents always considered his choice to drop out of college to pursue music an embarrassment to them and a huge mistake. Whatever the reasons, Theo struggles with gnawing self-doubt, feelings of worthlessness and a growing dislike for the very music he once loved. While on a short hiatus from the band, Theo stumbles into a bar and hears a voice—a gorgeous, haunting voice whose heart seems to bleed into every lyric sung on the stage. That voice belonged to Caleb Blake Whitman, the same Caleb who had disappeared from a rising and popular music career a year before.

Caleb was his father’s son, an addict to both drugs and drink. Having grown up in an alcoholic home and watched it tear his parents’ marriage apart, it was no wonder that Caleb would slide down that same slippery slope while on tour during his wildly successful run. Four times in rehab and the last was the final straw. Caleb knew he had to survive this one or he would end up dead. After his stint at sobering up, he went to hide at his grandfather’s farm and left music behind him. But Caleb was lonely and itching to create music, even though his barely contained terror at the idea of touring again kept him from doing much about his desires. Then he saw Theo, and his carefully boarded up heart and life started to crack.

Given the age gap between Caleb and Theo, this story could have gone all kinds of wrong. Rather than appear unsure and clueless about the workings of the music industry and fame, the author could have carelessly made Theo immature, pouty and young. Instead, by deftly handling the emotional roller coaster Theo was on, we got a thoughtful young man who was just miserable that his dream had been derailed due to his being both oversensitive and always trying to please everyone, especially his parents. Theo came alive when he was with Caleb, and poor Caleb was pushed to actually consider he should start living again rather than just treading water while maintaining his grasp on sobriety. The two men together were pure magic and deeply emotional. I was riveted by this story, captured by both the inner turmoil of both men and by their deep desire to be seen—really seen—and loved for who they were instead of how the crowd perceived them.

Riven is a beautiful story of healing, love and music. It takes a tired old rock and roll trope and turns it into a sensitive telling of the hard work it takes to shed the skin you hate and embrace the person you really are. It never panders to easy recovery from addiction but instead, shows the daily struggle and emotional toll maintaining sobriety demands. Author Roan Parrish offers up an intensely emotional story that promises the hope for a brighter tomorrow and a love that can go the distance.

Reviewed by Sammy
Was this review helpful?
When I'm looking for a beautifully written character driven story, there's one author I turn to....Roan Parrish. And with Riven, she's proved, yet again, why that is. 

"Everything about him worked its way under my skin, like a bullet slowly making its way to my heart."

I absolutely loved this story! This book is as much a love story to music as it is a love story between Caleb and Theo. Each chapter a verse in the song. The words a melody carrying you through the tale. 

Caleb and Theo had a connection from the moment they met. Is it a bit insta? A little bit. But it absolutely worked. These were two passionate and creative men who recognized something in each other. 

Theo is the reluctant rock star. He loves creating music, performing it, listening to it....but he loathes the "fame" that comes with it. 

"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."

Caleb is the recovering addict. The man who lost himself in the melody, the booze, and the drugs. Sober for over a year, he doesn't trust himself to have one without the other two. But Theo has awakened something inside of him. And it's equal parts fear and hope. 

"Ghosts of the past and hopes for the future were a dangerous cocktail."

Theo and Caleb had such patience with each other. So much passed between them in those unspoken though they both heard the same song in their heads. 

And all the passion they felt for music, translated to some explosive chemistry in their relationship too. These two were combustible together.

I do wish Roan Parrish developed more of the story with regards to Theo's relationship with his bandmates. I wanted to know more about their dynamic. Especially with Theo's insecurities. 

And with Caleb being a recovering addict, I would have liked to have seen more of how he used to be. There's a brief explanation of how he fell into the booze and drugs, but with the level of fear he had, I wanted to see how bad it truly was. 

Also, which may have been mentioned but I missed, I have no idea how old either of these guys are? There seems to be a bit of an age difference...maybe 10 years....but I'm not sure. 

But even with my couple of quibbles, this book was virtually impossible to put down. Roan Parrish hooked me from the very beginning and kept me entranced until the very last page. 

So much emotion. So much passion. 

"As my voice came in, I saw Caleb's eyes widen. I turned to him and watched him listen to the song I'd written for him. The song that had gathered inside me, that I'd held tight all these months and finally unspooled for him in the early morning light. The song that told him all the things he already knew, but in the language we both felt deeper than words."
Was this review helpful?
Riven by Roan Parrish is a tale of love and finding ones true self. I enjoyed this story but I wanted to love it and I just couldn't get there. Theo & Caleb connection couldn't hold me to the page as much as I wanted to love it. I liked Caleb's back story but it wasn't enough to elevate the book for me. 3 Stars for Riven by Roan Parrish
Was this review helpful?