Release Date: May 29, 2018
Received From: NetGalley
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.
ROMANTIC ORIENTATION: homoromantic
TROPES: age gap
TAGS: adult, contemporary, romance, queer romance, queer characters
WARNINGS: addiction, mention of drug usage, alcoholism, ableism
Where to even begin with this book? The whole thing was a wild ride of ups and downs, happy moments and sad, and I immediately fell in love with both main characters.
From the first page, with Theo trying to please his band at the sacrifice of himself, I loved that man. He is so gentle and caring and just wants to belong and be loved by the people he loves. He’s intelligent and gifted and an amazing musician who gives so much of himself to everyone, and I just want to love and protect him from the world and himself. And then there’s Caleb, who is an absolute mess, trying to find some sense of stability in his life after the havoc drugs and alcohol caused, and afraid that anything he loves or enjoy has the power to destroy him and lead down another spiral. He cares so much for Theo and Rhys, his best friend, and is such a wonderful musician, but his fear is so deeply rooted in his mindset that it was a struggle to read his point of view sometimes.
But, throughout the novel, we get to see these messy, broken men find pieces of themselves they didn’t recognize were missing, and they’re able to become stronger individually and together. And even though it hurt me so much at times–[narrows eyes in Roan Parrish’s direction]–this book was incredibly beautiful to read.
Also, I enjoyed Caleb’s friendship with Rhys and the ways in which music affected all the relationships within in the story. Music had the power to bring people together as well as tear them apart, and it gave those same people the ability to see their freedom and choices for the first time in their lives.
Parrish also did an incredible job with Caleb’s addictions and accurately depicting the ways they can rule your life, even when you achieve sobriety. You’re never truly free of them, and Caleb’s struggles to resist were heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. And I appreciated the fact that he frequently spent time with his sponsor, Huey, and talked to the man a lot in order to parse his thoughts and feelings. I particularly enjoyed the scene where the two of them talked about Caleb’s feelings for Theo–in the scene, Caleb is worried that Theo is another addiction that he let fill the space left behind by removing drugs and alcohol from the picture, and Huey talks it out with him and rationalizes the love Caleb holds for Theo as something completely different from his addiction.
All in all, this book was fabulous and a thoroughly involving read, and I would certainly recommend it.
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.
She is represented by Courtney Miller-Callihan of Handspun Literary Agency.