Riven by Roan Parrish: a short spoilery review

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I feel a bit dumb because I was lucky enough to get this delicious book from NetGalley well before release date, gobbled it down and was champing at the bit to review it but made myself wait for release date because of NetGalley rules. And then it turned out that the time around release date was BANANAS for me, with work deadlines and a family health scare which luckily eventually turned out fine and the start of moving house and so on, and here we are, yoinks later. Ah well.

SPOILERS!

Anyway!  SO GOOD. Extremely hot and sexy, and both main characters felt so real and so lovable. One of my favorite things about it was that although there was plenty of angst there were no…villains, really? The other members of Riven made Theo feel left out, yes, but they weren’t terrible people–they knew each other earlier and had gotten used to just hanging out with each other, they were put off by how media focused on just Theo, and they misinterpreted a lot of Theo’s awkwardness as not really wanting to hang out with them. (Plus they were unaware of Theo’s childhood that left him particularly susceptible to abandonment issues.) I like the acknowledgement that it’s possible for basically well-meaning people to make each other miserable.

I like too that Theo has to come to what seems like one of his first huge adult decisions on his own, regardless of what Caleb thinks. And I love that that huge important decision is just that…you don’t HAVE to do what’s expected of you. Even if it’s what you used to think you wanted. Even if it’s something that most people would think was the most awesome thing ever.

I love that this is about two damaged, terribly hurt people slowly learning that they can choose actions that make them happier, including choosing each other. For a book that has music woven so wonderfully all through it, for a book that has some GREAT GODAMIGHTY HOT sex scenes, there’s something sweetly…quiet, somehow, about the way these men come to love one another. Beautiful.

A Princess in Theory, oh my yes

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Probably everyone reading this has already read Alyssa Cole’s A Princess in Theory but if not GO READ IT RIGHT NOW. (Mild spoilers ahoy.)

It is just so much FUN. The heroine is wonderful–a brilliant and super-hardworking scientist in training, working multiple jobs to get through grad school. She’s also a former foster kid who has trouble believing anyone would really want her.

The hero is Prince Thabiso from Thesolo–he’s been a bit of a playboy but he’s truly invested in doing what’s best for his people.

And the setup is a hoot. Naledi’s been getting emails saying she’s been betrothed since toddlerhood to a prince, and asking her to send proof of her identity and medical records. And since she’s a sensible person…guess what she’s been doing with those emails.

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That’s right.

You really root for both characters (they have more-or-less alternating POV chapters.) And they’re not in a lovestruck void with no other people–Naledi’s best friend is very important to the story, as is Likotsi, Thabiso’s assistant. (Who is also, really, his best friend.)

Friendship is taken quite seriously in this story–Thabiso’s mother’s long-ago loss of her best friend is one of the major historical points driving the story. I love this a lot. And I love that Naledi and Thabiso respect the hell out of each other’s competence at their jobs. (And that both their jobs are shown as genuinely difficult, featuring a douchebag postdoc in Naledi’s case and a sleazy government Minister in Thabiso’s.)

I also love the very, very hot sex scenes which include the detail that HEY A POOR GRAD STUDENT IS WEARING A BEAT-UP OLD BRA THAT DOESN’T MATCH HER PANTIES. HOW GREAT IS THAT.

I am so looking forward to the next book in the series. Also hoping that at some point we get to read more about dapper lesbian Likotsi. I would like to read an epic trilogy about dapper lesbian Likotsi, please!

In summary, all the thumbs up!