The Songs of Love: RAZE–A Review

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.

About the book:
Sometimes the walls we build to save ourselves have to come tumbling down.

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.

My Review:
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.

Interested? You can find RAZE on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books and Kobo. I read a review copy via NetGalley.

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.

You can find Roan online on her website, Facebook and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

The State of Love REND–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a Throwback Thursday review for a contemporary M/M rock romance from Roan Parrish. REND features a married couple battling abandonment issues and depress to build a more stable relationship. I liked the first book in this series, RIVEN, and was glad to see some of those characters play a role here. It’s a perfect pick for my rock romance bender, too!

About the book:
After a whirlwind romance, a man with a painful past learns to trust the musician who makes him believe in happy endings.

Matt Argento knows what it feels like to be alone. After a childhood of abandonment, he never imagined someone might love him—much less someone like Rhys Nyland, who has the voice of an angel, the looks of a god, and the worship of his fans.

Matt and Rhys come from different worlds, but when they meet, their chemistry is incendiary. Their romance is unexpected, intense, and forever—at least, that’s what their vows promise. Suddenly, Matt finds himself living a life he never thought possible: safe and secure in the arms of a man who feels like home. But when Rhys leaves to go on tour for his new album, Matt finds himself haunted by the ghosts of his past.

When Rhys returns, he finds Matt twisted by doubt. But Rhys loves Matt fiercely, and he’ll go to hell and back to triumph over Matt’s fears. After secrets are revealed and desires are confessed, Rhys and Matt must learn to trust each other if they’re going to make it. That means they have to fall in love all over again—and this time, it really will be forever.

My Review:
Matt Argento and Rhys Nyland are a married couple. They met and filled a need the other had–Rhys loved to save a man, and Matt needed saving. Rhys is a musician and singer, and the book starts about 1.5 years into the marriage, so it’s not about how they fall in love. No, it’s about staying in the moment, and trusting that love is real–and that you deserve it. Why? Because Matt is a foster system product who has abandonment issues.

Matt loves Rhys, but Matt struggles with depression. He has a long history of being left behind, and the idea of Rhys going on tour is fanning the flames of his anxiety. Rhys, for his part, is a super lover, and a huge caretaker–but he can’t fix Matt. Only time, patience and Matt’s own willingness to believe that he is worthy of Rhys’s boundless affection can solve this conundrum. Be ready with the tissue, y’all.

I loved the deep and brooding moments as much as I loved the intensity of their lovemaking. Matt can’t be whole until he opens his heart and mind to the possibility that Rhys loves all his brokenness. And, Rhys is just amazing at loving Matt. Like, nobody could do it better. The pacing is a little slow in the beginning where the reader is following Matt through his sometimes exhaustingly mundane narration, but the second half is a big emotional lift, and I felt really connected through the climax. And speaking of climax, there’s a LOT of sexytimes in this book.

We met these characters briefly in RIVEN, the first book in this series, but honestly, we know NOTHING about them other than they are married, and Rhys was once Caleb’s boyfriend. I loved getting to see this couple interact with Theo and Caleb and how their friendships only grew stronger. It’s a way darker book than RIVEN, but it’s also so rewarding to see this established couple work on their relationship, and build a love that is strong and real, well beyond the early love infatuation that first brought them together.

Interested? You can find REND on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books and Kobo. I read a review copy via NetGalley.

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.

You can find Roan online on her website, Facebook and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Rock Starred: RIVEN, a Review

Hi there! Long time no posts… EEP!! I got sucked into overtime in the past two-weeks, and my life went haywire. That said, I’m still reading tons, so today I’m sharing a review for a new contemporary M/M rock romance from Roan Parrish. RIVEN features a lead singer at the top of his fame falling for a musician hiding from his addictions.

About the book:
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.

My Review:
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.

Interested? You can find RIVEN on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo. I read a review copy via NetGalley.

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.

You can find Roan online on her website, Facebook and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!