Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary M/M rock romance from Roan Parrish. RAZE features and up-and coming singer who falls hard for the staid bartender that keeps him level. Catch my reviews for RIVEN and REND to find out more about this series. Some of those characters return in this book, but it’s a standalone romance, too.
For the last ten years, Huey has built his life around his sobriety. If that means he doesn’t give a damn about finding love or companionship for himself, well, it’s probably better that way. After all, the last thing he wants is to hurt anyone else. Until Felix Rainey walks into his bar, fresh-faced, unbearably sweet—and, for some reason Huey can’t fathom, interested in him.
As the eldest of five kids, Felix Rainey spent his childhood cooking dinner, checking homework, and working after-school jobs. Now in his twenties, he’s still scrambling to make ends meet and wondering what the hell he’s doing with his life. When he meets Huey, he’s intimidated . . . and enamored. Huey’s strong and confident, he owns his own business—hell, he’s friends with rock stars. What could he ever see in Felix?
As Huey and Felix get closer, the spark catches and soon they can’t get enough of each other. But Huey’s worked hard to avoid intimacy, and Felix threatens his carefully constructed defenses. Huey realizes he needs to change if he wants to truly put his past behind him—and build a future with Felix.
Felix Rainey has assisted in the care and support of his mother and younger siblings since he was 15 years old. Right now, he and his sister Sofia share a tiny apartment in New York. Felix works at a bagel shop but has dreams of making dioramas for the Natural History museum. He and Sofia sing at Huey’s bar one Tuesday night–karaoke is not Huey’s thing but it draws a crowd–and their duet of a Riven song has Huey calling his dear friend Caleb Blake Whitman—and Theo Decker, former lead signer of Riven. The band is looking for a new frontman, and Felix seems to have the chops.
Felix, however, has stage fright and he gets Theo and Coco, Riven’s guitarist, to listen to Sofia sing the heck out of a couple of Riven songs. That lands her a formal audition and Felix is overjoyed. Things move quickly for Felix and Sofia after that–Sofia gets hired and is constantly with the band, leaving Felix alone for pretty much the first time in his life. He resolves to do something for himself, and the first thing he can think to do is go back Huey’s bar and strike up an acquaintance. Maybe ask him for a date. He nearly chicken’s out, but Huey’s commpassionate care helps Felix find his courage. And, they make a date.
Huey–which is a nickname of his last name Hughes–is a recovering pain pill addict. He’s been a sponsor for NA for years now, and he’s been sober going on a decade. He was Caleb’s sponsor a few years back and that’s how they became such good friends. He’s used to locking down his emotions, but he’s really supportive of the needs of people he meets–to the point that his life is more about others than himself. The idea that a beautiful man like Felix could want him is…puzzling. But, the bond between them grows steadily. Felix is irrepressible and his light is a foil for Huey’s deep and brooding facade. The truth is, Huey needs Felix the same way Felix needs him. They are two lonely souls who’ve sacrificed themselves to help others: Felix for his mom and younger siblings and Huey for the people he might be able to help overcome their addictions. It’s hard for them to think of themselves first, and to ask for what they truly need.
They do get some thing right from the start. The sexytimes are yummy and their conversations move quickly form stilted to comfortable. They can spend time with one another and just be–but the abandonment Felix is experiencing as Sofia prepares for her tour is exacerbated when Huey’s also taking care of the people he sponsors. They struggle a bit, but it’s not super intense. Neither Felix nor Huey is happy with being apart, and they each push the other into new and uncomfortable society–with good results. Felix befriends Matt, husband of Rhys from REND, and that helps with his issues of loss now that Sofia’s gone. Huey realizes that he’s overextended himself both with the bar and as a sponsor. It’s interfering with him taking care of himself–and Felix.
These guys have found their One at just the right moment, but it’s still hard for them to take anything for themselves. Huey’s sure his sobriety has been maintained by rigid control, and he’s afraid that his upset schedules to accommodate visits with Felix might cause a relapse. I liked how they worked through it with Felix being brave for himself–taking chances both professionally and personally–and Huey taking the sage advice of people he’d often counseled. The story is a little heavy on description and backstory, which made pacing a bit slow in the front end. These are two regular “famous-adjacent” guys just figuring things out, messing up, and figuring them out again, which was a nice twist for this series. I loved that Huey literally carved space into his apartment to make Felix feel more welcome, and I loved how Felix just fit Theo, and soothed his battered heart and Sharpie-d flesh.
This book brought a good sense of closure to the Riven stories, having three solid couples finding three stellar HEAs. I really enjoyed all of them.
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. She is represented by Courtney Miller-Callihan of Handspun Literary Agency.
Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!