Romance Novels, Defined
The Huntress by Kate Quinn {review}

Rend (Riven #2) by Roan Parrish {review}



My Review - 5 Stars

This book ripped my heart out, as I knew it would. Parrish focuses on Matt and Rhys, the married couple we met in Riven, making it a different kind of romance story. Matt (Mexican-Italian) grew up in foster care and had a traumatic childhood; Rhys (white) is the first serious relationship he's ever had and he doesn't know what marriage should look like. Rhys, on the other hand, grew up in a stable, loving family and all he's ever wanted was to have the same relationship as his parents and to not have to choose between his partner and his career as a musician.

Their relationship is going well until Rhys goes away on tour and suddenly Matt realizes he's not doing as well as he thought he was since Rhys came into his life. We get Matt's POV and so we're right there with him throughout all the uncertainty and insecurity. Matt can never quite believe Rhys chose him and is certain Rhys deserves much better. It makes complete sense but it still broke my heart. I kept wanting to give Matt a hug!

Parrish did a fantastic job exploring people who grew up in foster care through Matt and unfurling each layer of privilege non-foster care people have. He’s such a brilliant, complex character. Her scenes are so vivid. I practically felt like it was *my* first night sleeping alone in a house or that I was the one walking block after block in the city. Matt works with teens who are aging out of the system and this added another layer to the story, as he sees kids who remind him of himself at that age, as well as what he's still processing and learning now as a 25 year old.

Rhys wants to be the protector and wants to make everything better for Matt. He really struggles with not being able to do so and it was so endearing to watch him begin to understand his privilege as he learns what Matt endured. At the same time, he does such an incredible job of simply loving his husband and reminding Matt of how much he cares about him and that he's never going to leave. I also loved how romantic Rhys is and how slow the pace of their relationship was when they first met. It was rather refreshing to see!

This book packed such an emotional wallop. I cried more than once and was tearing up in other places. I just felt so deeply for these characters and was rooting for them to find their way back to each other, no matter the doubts plaguing Matt. I loved watching them choose one another again. It was so deeply satisfying, as are all of Parrish's books. Her writing continues to astound me.

CW: references to childhood abuse and neglect, references to past bullying, grief, death of a minor character



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.


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