Thursday, April 12, 2018

Syncopation by Anna Zabo

Title: Syncopation
Author: Anna Zabo
Cover Artist: uncredited
Publisher: Carina
Buy at Amazon
Genre: contemporary, rock star
Length: 102k
Formats available: mobi, epub

Twisted Wishes front man Ray Van Zeller is in one hell of a tight spot. After a heated confrontation with his bandmate goes viral, Ray is hit with a PR nightmare the fledgling band so doesn’t need. But his problems only multiply when they snag a talented new drummer—insufferably sexy Zavier Demos, the high school crush Ray barely survived.

Zavier’s kept a casual eye on Twisted Wishes for years, and lately, he likes what he sees. What he doesn’t like is how out of control Ray seems—something Zavier’s aching to correct after their first pulse-pounding encounter. If Ray’s up for the challenge.

Despite the prospect of a glorious sexual encore, Ray is reluctant to trust Zavier with his band—or his heart. And Zavier has always had big dreams; this gig was supposed to be temporary. But touring together has opened their eyes to new passions and new possibilities, making them rethink their commitments, both to the band and to each other.


What drew me to this rock band story was the history Ray and Zavier had, and wanting to know why things went so badly wrong the first time around and if they could navigate around it.

Well, probably not. Their history wasn’t entirely sexual but musical, and in a way to create a huge gap. And that gap still looms, and might be the biggest reason Zavier wouldn’t stick around. Self-taught and struggling vs classically trained and Juilliard-bound don’t make an easy pairing then, and even if Zavier wants to go slumming in rock and roll for a while, there’d need to be a reason to stay, and for him, love isn’t it.

This book was a fascinating look into a relationship with unexpected dynamics. Aromanticism is an unobvious choice for a book that was, in the end, romantic, but in a way that made perfect sense to Zavier, who was up front about not understanding hearts and flowers and declarations of love. And there’s none of that, but there is putting someone else’s wellbeing essential to one’s own, and isn’t that what love is in the end?

The BDSM part made me think I hadn’t checked the blurb thoroughly enough, because it’s not something I usually read. Even to a non-BDSM aficionado, what went on between Zavier and Ray was caring, and Ray’s surrendering of power and control to gain peace was beautifully done. Take this as highest praise, because most BDSM is automatic back button stuff for me, and if I hadn’t already been so invested in the story and the characters, I would have closed the book.

I’m glad I didn’t though, because Ray and Zavier became stronger together, enough to overcome the outside pressure.

The source of that pressure though—talk about working against one’s own best interests. I will say that Carl’s ultimate motives needed three readings and I still don’t buy it. But he’s a darned good source of day to day stress and antagonism, and the kind of pressure topnotch performers put on themselves only got a hundred times worse with his help. Young, inexperienced, and hungry for success Ray was easy meat for him, to the point of me shouting advice at my Kindle for Ray. (Which he took, but later, and I wanted to hug one of the characters for it.)

This was an excellent reading of what could be a lot of tropes, from second chances to antagonists to lovers, and rock band pressures, with the unusual aspect of aromanticism, and it all worked out. This book deserves to go gold.    4.75 marbles

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