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?