Syncopation

Syncopation

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 Twis...

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Title:Syncopation
Author:Anna Zabo
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Syncopation Reviews

  • Debra

    Twisted Wishes is a band on the rise. Singer and band leader Ray is overwhelmed with trying to make sure the band is doing well and that he’s not letting down his friends/bandmates. He is doing what he can to shelter them from the demands of their gods-awful manager while still focusing on the music. Things go from bad to worse when their drummer leaves and Ray’s forced into putting a spin on it that makes him look bad. As if that’s not enough, into their au

    Twisted Wishes is a band on the rise. Singer and band leader Ray is overwhelmed with trying to make sure the band is doing well and that he’s not letting down his friends/bandmates. He is doing what he can to shelter them from the demands of their gods-awful manager while still focusing on the music. Things go from bad to worse when their drummer leaves and Ray’s forced into putting a spin on it that makes him look bad. As if that’s not enough, into their auditions walks the man he crushed on and idolized in high school, the man who turned down an invitation to join the band back then, a slight (and a crush) that Ray has never forgotten, classical drummer Zavier Demos. There’s no denying that Zav is just what the band needs and what Ray wants even though he won’t show it. The question is whether it could ever work?

    Zavier’s admiration of Ray goes back a long way. He doesn’t realize the history Ray has carried about them since high school, but he is thrilled to be the drummer for Twisted Wishes. Things ended badly with his last orchestra job and the change was necessary. He sees how Ray works, how he takes care of the band and how the music and words sing within him and he wants to be a part of that. He also sees that Ray has some insecurities and that he needs to be able to let go of that control and worry before it destroys him, and while Zav would love nothing more than to give that to Ray, he’s learned his lesson.

    This is absolutely a slow build. I loved watching Ray and Zav getting over their initial friction to work together as bandmates and watch them grow as friends. The tension between them is palpable both to their friends and to the reader. As they move into a friends-with-benefits relationship, Zav is very clear about being aromantic and what it means. This communication between Zav and Ray is a hallmark of their relationship and obviously quite necessary for their D/s dynamic, but it also allowed for the story to proceed without unnecessary angst and really focus on the characters.

    Aromantic doesn’t mean Zav is incapable of maintaining a relationship and having long-term happiness, it’s just a matter of finding someone who understands. Zav and Ray find that they work in almost every way; they are friends, lovers, bandmates, Dom and sub, and most of all they respect and care for one another. I would say they have one of the healthiest relationships I've read in a long time.

    Both characters have incredible growth. Zav comes to a better understanding of himself. Finding the right partner in Ray opens up a future he never thought about. In submitting to Zav, Ray finds what he needs to let go of frustrations and clear his head in order to work towards real solutions for his fears about the band's future. The kink includes denial, spanking and bondage. Zav has a bit of a sadistic side and Ray finds such comfort in submitting, it was a thing of beauty to read.

    As their bassist, Mish tells them “there are all kinds of love” and while Zav may not feel or understand things about "romantic love" it’s very clear that the intense feelings of respect, want and caring fuel both of them and allows them to have a relationship on their own terms. And shouldn't every relationship be built on mutual care and respect and the desire to see your partner happy, successful and fulfilled?

    The secondary characters of bandmates Mish and Dom are also very well-written and integral to the story. They have been Ray's family and they all look out for each other. Mish is still a bit mysterious at the end, but she is a strong female character who takes care of the boys when it’s needed, but doesn’t take any crap. Dom is a bit more fleshed out and there is quite the awesome contradiction between his public persona, Domino, and the real Dominic. I’m thrilled that the next book, Counterpoint, will be his story. Anna Zabo also captured the music side of the story just as well as the relationship side. From creating the music and lyrics and performing, to the down and dirty of the business side of things. I got a good dose of the life of a rock and roll band.

    I adored the ending and where Ray and Zav were. Their relationship works so well and they are both honest to who they are and what they need and neither individual is lost within what they have, rather they just grow so much stronger and happier together. I highly recommend this story and will be going to check out Anna Zabo's other books as I wait for the next one in this series.

    *****

    My first Anna Zabo book will NOT be my last. Really good!

    *****

  • ♕ mali

    Listen, I wanna lay down and just think of how perfect this book is. Yes. It's perfect. It's got an incredible cast, a compelling plot that kept me on edge in the best ways, a beautiful partnership, awesome representation of D/s dynamics and above all made me feel so good and happy and content.

    I recommend this to anyone who loves rock stars, protective doms, communication done so beautifully, CONSENT EXPLICIT ON PAGE, representation of aromanticism (did I spell that right?) and incredible writi

    Listen, I wanna lay down and just think of how perfect this book is. Yes. It's perfect. It's got an incredible cast, a compelling plot that kept me on edge in the best ways, a beautiful partnership, awesome representation of D/s dynamics and above all made me feel so good and happy and content.

    I recommend this to anyone who loves rock stars, protective doms, communication done so beautifully, CONSENT EXPLICIT ON PAGE, representation of aromanticism (did I spell that right?) and incredible writing.

    I have read two Anna Zabo books but this might be my favorite by this author. They totally hooked me since the first two chapters and made me go through so much joy and care for these characters. I genuinely cannot wait for Dom's story because I trust Anna to deliver! Yes, this is added to the favorites.

    Content warning for emotional manipulation done by the band's manager towards the main singer, past partners being arophobic towards Zavier, and casual ableism called out on page.

    Yeah, can we give Zabo a huge congrats for being so inclusive and amazing? Please.

  • ~Mindy Lynn~

    4 Stars!

    I love a good rock-star book and although I struggled with this in the beginning, I ended up really liking it by the end.

    Ray is the lead singer of Twisted Wishes (loved this band name) along with his best friend Dominic, and the statuesque goddess that is Mish. Ray has worked very hard for years to get his band off the ground. They are on the rise even though things haven't been so smooth and it only gets worse when photo's of him and his drummer Kevin having an altercation are floating

    4 Stars!

    I love a good rock-star book and although I struggled with this in the beginning, I ended up really liking it by the end.

    Ray is the lead singer of Twisted Wishes (loved this band name) along with his best friend Dominic, and the statuesque goddess that is Mish. Ray has worked very hard for years to get his band off the ground. They are on the rise even though things haven't been so smooth and it only gets worse when photo's of him and his drummer Kevin having an altercation are floating around on the web. Their drummer ends up quitting and the label wants Ray to take the fall. So now not only does he look out of control with anger issues, he also has to take the fall for Kevin's drunken ways. Ray is starting to crumble with all the overwhelming pressure he's feeling and the guilt of letting his band members down. He thinks things can't possibly get worse until he see's a man from his past walk in to audition for their drummer position. Zavier's Demos. Ray is completely stunned to see the man he had crushed on in high school. The man he asked to join his band. The man who laughed and turned him down because he was meant for Julliard. Ray says no on the spot. But when Zavier takes a seat behind those drums and plays their song better than their previous drummer ever could he knows that this man is their best fit and there's no denying he's extremely talented. Ray knows he is gonna have to get over his anger from the past and the hard on he still gets for the guy.

    Zavier has kept a finger on the pulse of the band Twisted Wishes and more specifically on the lead singer, Ray. He's extremely excited to be Twisted Wishes new drummer. He's making quite the leap though going from classical music to rock. But it's necessary since his last job ended in disaster and has kept him from finding other work in his field.

    Zavier and Ray aren't quite friends and aren't quite enemies. Zav wants to be friends and works at trying to get there with Ray but the man is still holding on to some resentment towards him. Eventually Ray see's he's being a bit foolish and just making things more stressful with his behavior for his band. He knows Zav is good for them and slowly starts letting his walls down for Zav. All Zav wants to do is help Ray recognize how wonderfully talented he is and does it often by stepping in when their manager Carl tries to tear him down. Carl is a complete douche nozzle and the main reason Ray has so many insecurities about his role in the band. He constantly is finding ways to get Ray alone so he can spew his hate. I wanted Ray to stand up for himself but he's just not built that way. He feels everything. So he takes what Carl says to heart and does everything he can to improve with every show. Zav sees Ray coming apart and craves to put him back together. After a conversation with Carl leaves Ray reeling that pull to take care of Ray and to help him let go becomes too strong for Zav and he and Ray give in to the attraction they've both been feeling.

    D/s relationships use to be a type I didn't think I would ever get use to in my romance books. Boy has that changed. I have learned so much about this relationship type that I've become very comfortable with it and the understanding of it that I now enjoy reading books with this dynamic. Zav and Ray thrived when they were together in this capacity. Ray needed someone to take control and allow him to let go of everything that was troubling him. Zav needed Ray to let go for him. He needed Ray to allow him to take him there and to take care of him. It wasn't over the top nor was it dark. It was pretty light compared to some of the other books that I have read with this dynamic.

    Zavier is an aromantic. I have never heard of the word nor knew what it meant. I was pretty happy learning about it though but even after reading the book I can't say I really know much about an aromantic. The way it's described here and the way Zavier is portrayed is that he doesn't fall in love. He doesn't believe in buying roses and chocolate to express how he feels for another person and nor does he believe words are needed to express himself. I think some might think this makes Zavier incapable of having a relationship since he can't fall in love. I disagree. The relationship between him and Ray is very much full of caring. Zavier shows it through actions instead of words dripping with love. The way he takes care of Ray; the way he touches him proves it. I didn't feel like Zavier being aromantic took away from the book or how he and Ray were with each other. I felt their connection, their chemistry, and how much they cared for each other. It was a different kind of relationship but not one I found to be lacking in any way.

    It was a great story with a slow build up that I ended up enjoying. That slow burn gave us a chance to learn more about these characters, their relationships with each other, and in the end, the sweet relationship that was built between Ray and Zavier.

    I am extremely excited to read Dom's book. Loved him in this one and can't wait to learn more about the shy guy.

    Happy reading dolls! xx

  • Ky

    3.5 stars

    This is a tough book to label. It's a friends-to-lovers story, but not really. It's an enemies-to-lovers story. No. Not really. It's a second chance romance. Nope. It's not that either. It's the story of a rock band. Yes, that's it! It's the story of a rock band's first steps toward stardom...

    Ray and Zavier knew each other in highschool - hence the second chance - but they were neither friends nor they interracted much. Their only conversation was Zavier turning down Ray's invitation to

    3.5 stars

    This is a tough book to label. It's a friends-to-lovers story, but not really. It's an enemies-to-lovers story. No. Not really. It's a second chance romance. Nope. It's not that either. It's the story of a rock band. Yes, that's it! It's the story of a rock band's first steps toward stardom...

    Ray and Zavier knew each other in highschool - hence the second chance - but they were neither friends nor they interracted much. Their only conversation was Zavier turning down Ray's invitation to join his band. The next time they meet Ray has formed his band, has released a few albums and is in need of a drummer while Zavier is in need of a job. It worked out great since each had what the other needed.

    They start a tentative friendship after Ray decides to put the past behind him and slowly they settle into a friends with benefits arrangement. While the beginning of their relationship was slow and took the necessary time for their connection to grow and strengthen, from that point onward everything happened very fast. I would have liked a slower pace but it didn't affect my opinion of the book much.

    I liked both MCs as well as the other two members of the band. I don't know if this is supposed to be the first book in a series but if it is I'm very interested to know more about Dom. Plus, it would be nice to see Ray and Zavier again!

    What made this particular book stand out in the midst of all the other rock band books is the fact that one of our MCs identifies as aromantic. It was my first read with a character of this particular romantic identity and I found it very interesting and very informative. I don't know if the author handled it well or realistically - I'll leave that to the people who have more knowledge on the subject than me to judge it - but no matter what, it made me think about the compexities of a relationship between a romantic and an aromantic person. I believed in their HEA and a huge part in that played the fact that they talked about Zavier's aromanticism and Ray was open to it and understanding from the start. Zavier was honest from the start that there would be no romance between them, even if he held off on putting a name to the reason behind his declaration until things started to get more serious.

    To tell you the truth, at some point I got a bit confused as to how their relationship was going to work with only one of them having romantic feelings for the other. But then I thought that every relationship is different anyway. Every connection has something unique that is only for the people involved to understand. The important thing is that they found a balance that worked for them and they were happy with it. The rest don't matter and neither does whether I understand the workings of their relationship or not.

    And in the middle of all those positives I have got to mention Carl... What a frustrating character! No, more than that, what a frustrating situation! I can't believe that nobody interfered effectively before things got so much out of hand. What we had in this story is a case of pure psychological abuse. The fact that the people involved didn't have any kind of relationsip except a working one, doesn't make what Carl was doing any less abusive. He hit Ray with his words, making him doubt himself and his self-worth. He twisted the reality and made Ray believe his words. He had a strange kind of power over Ray that evolved through time and constant degradation. He had managed to make Ray stop believing in himself, not have any confidence. He had conditioned him so well that Ray was physically and mentally srinking every time he had to deal with Carl. I got angry that nothing was changing and that Carl managed to get in Ray's head and affect him so negativelly and so much.

    Carl was the evil character that I could have done without. I would have prefered for him to be just mean and a troublemaker for the band than this over the top character who stopped at nothing and nobody.

    Other than that I liked the story. It was interesting, had a bit of agony about what would happen with Carl, a bit of mystery about why he was doing all those things (though the answer wasn't a very satisfying one) and a lot of likeable characters.

  • Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘

    : aromantic & pansexual mc, gay mc, m/m

    - Oh,

    . To say I've wanted to hug him at every turn would be an understatement.

    was my first read by

    , but I'll be sure to read more of their books in the future. I swear, I'll be writing a full review at some point, but you should know that

    :

    ▨ features

    : aromantic & pansexual mc, gay mc, m/m

    - Oh,

    . To say I've wanted to hug him at every turn would be an understatement.

    was my first read by

    , but I'll be sure to read more of their books in the future. I swear, I'll be writing a full review at some point, but you should know that

    :

    ▨ features

    , which pleased me a lot (note that I'm not aromantic, even though I recognize myself in many parts of this identity. God, I saw so much of myself in Zavier, it's... both enthralling and unsettling. But as it is, I can't say for sure if the representation was well-handled. I'll be sure to check reviews from ownvoices readers, and you should, too)

    ▨ centers the story around Ray, Mish, Dom and Zavier's

    and that was glorious and endearing and GAH, I loved them all OKAY?

    ▨ focuses on consent a lot and it gave me life -

    because

    .

    ▨ pictures

    from

    enemies to reluctant allies to friends to best friends with benefits - slowburn at its best, really (they're so precious) (MY HEART)

    ▨ gives

    first because the MCs engage in BDSM sex, of course, but dismissing the other ways they learn to rely on trust would be a shame ; perhaps I'm wrong, but what I got from

    is both an ode to - rightfully earned - trust, and the recognition of the utter difficulty - but ultimately so rewarding - journey that one must take to let it

    . As someone who doesn't give her trust easily (understatement of the year), it meant everything.

    Some readers complained about the pacing, and yes, that's true,

    slow - but that's actually something I loved very much about it -

    The only reason I ever stopped reading is, you know, to sleep. So.

    TW -

    *arc kindly provided by Carina Press through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Acqua

    This is an atypical "review", because I don't review adult contemporary romance - I don't know the genre enough, I read very little of it, as it's full of casual microaggressions against my own existence. 

    . But I have read this one (because I'm aro) and I have something to say, so...

    by Anna Zabo is a m/m book in the romance genre, first in the

    series, which is a romance se

    This is an atypical "review", because I don't review adult contemporary romance - I don't know the genre enough, I read very little of it, as it's full of casual microaggressions against my own existence. 

    . But I have read this one (because I'm aro) and I have something to say, so...

    by Anna Zabo is a m/m book in the romance genre, first in the

    series, which is a romance series. It's also

    . It might look like one from the outside, but the small differences are everything.

    I decided to read this just because it had an allosexual (pansexual, word used in-text) aromantic main character. All main aromantic characters I've found so far have been aromantic asexual. It's not even about finding characters I can relate to - I didn't relate to Zavier in the slightest when he wasn't talking about his aromanticism (and I didn't expect to; we have nothing in common but that).

    Those pages about understanding and not understanding romantic relationships and gestures at the same time, getting why people like them in a way, but feeling like an alien, like everyone is trying to make you feel broken... I didn't think I would ever see that.

    That's also why is disheartening to see reviews saying "Zavier and Ray's relationship is just like a romantic one despite the aromanticism".

    . I can understand if you don't get why - I don't get

    , and society loves to casually tell me I'm a monster and an obstacle just for that. Also,

    . Now, you wouldn't say that "Zavier and Ray's relationship was just like a straight one despite the homosexuality of the two characters!", would you?

    And this book didn't make the aromanticism an obstacle - I loved how Zavier didn't have to explain all

    to Ray - so why phrase it that way...?

    But the aromantic rep and the relationship weren't the only thing I liked about this. I really liked all the characters and

    . Ray, Mish, Dominic and Zavier are all queer and always support each other, even when their band manager is trying to make their life hell (yes, there's verbal abuse here). Also, there's

    ! I don't have the kind Ray has, but I always love when it's mentioned, especially when the word synesthesia is used.

    4.5 stars.

  • J *deep in the heart of Texas*

    This one didn't work for me. And I think it's more my fault than the book.

    I was a bit impulsive requesting this one on NetGalley. I saw rockstar and Anna Zabo and hit request. Not quite realizing there were going to BDSM elements, and a bit heavier ones at that. On top of that, one of the MCs is aromantic....and well, I read for the romance.

    I also found this one to be really wordy, and not dialogue wordy. It made the pace feel slow.

    No doubt most will probably really like this one. And despite

    This one didn't work for me. And I think it's more my fault than the book.

    I was a bit impulsive requesting this one on NetGalley. I saw rockstar and Anna Zabo and hit request. Not quite realizing there were going to BDSM elements, and a bit heavier ones at that. On top of that, one of the MCs is aromantic....and well, I read for the romance.

    I also found this one to be really wordy, and not dialogue wordy. It made the pace feel slow.

    No doubt most will probably really like this one. And despite my misgivings about this one, I will consider reading Dom's book. I'm really intrigued by him.

  • River

    I had a hard time getting into this story, I felt like it started slow and didn't really pick up.

    I really liked reading about an aromantic character, it was my first. I can't really judge the execution of it because I just don't know much about the theme but I'm always down for representation.

    I particularly didn't like the pace of the relationship, I did like the fact that these guys got to know each other as friends first but the whole we are fucking to we are committing to each other long-te

    I had a hard time getting into this story, I felt like it started slow and didn't really pick up.

    I really liked reading about an aromantic character, it was my first. I can't really judge the execution of it because I just don't know much about the theme but I'm always down for representation.

    I particularly didn't like the pace of the relationship, I did like the fact that these guys got to know each other as friends first but the whole we are fucking to we are committing to each other long-term happened from one minute to the next.

    The villain of the story was a bit OTT for my taste.

    I know it feels like I'm just pointing out things that I didn't like and I don't wanna make this book sounds like a bad story because it isn't. It just wasn't my cup of tea.

    I am definitely open to read the second installment in the series, Domino seemed like a very interesting character and I think I would like to more about him.

  • Claudie Arseneault

    All right, this got long, so full commentary is

    .

    A disclaimer: I am not usually a contemporary romance reader, especially when it is heavy in sex scenes. I picked it up as an aromantic reader because I knew Zavier was a pansexual aro and had heard good comments. This is mostly a review of the representation.

    Overrall, I enjoyed both the story and the representation. Up until the end, anyway, and I'd actually recommend reading it without the epilogue. More on that later.

    I loved the w

    All right, this got long, so full commentary is

    .

    A disclaimer: I am not usually a contemporary romance reader, especially when it is heavy in sex scenes. I picked it up as an aromantic reader because I knew Zavier was a pansexual aro and had heard good comments. This is mostly a review of the representation.

    Overrall, I enjoyed both the story and the representation. Up until the end, anyway, and I'd actually recommend reading it without the epilogue. More on that later.

    I loved the way Zavier and Ray built their relationship on trust and how the D/s was woven into that, and I really appreciated that Ray already knew what aromanticism was and unwilling to push Zavier into a romantic relationship. Zavier's aromanticism is clearly established, and what romantic behaviour he dislikes and cannot understand also spelled out. We also get mentions of greyromanticis, demiromanticism, and asexuality. It's nice because it overall gives the feeling that some thoughts were put into exactly what kind of aromantic person Zavier was, rather than trying to fit a wide range of experiences into a single character.

    Through most of the story, Zavier's and Ray's relationship evolves according to their respective uniqueness. Mutual trust, exploration of kink, Zav's aromanticism... all of it is woven through with respect, and repeatedly validated as just as powerful and important as a romantic relationship. It was a joy to have a deeply caring aromantic character be treated this way.

    Unfortunately, the end of the novel undoes all that good work by presenting the future of Zavier's and Ray's relationship as one that has several new romantic trappings, none of which we've seen Zavier negotiate or discuss as okay, and overall it strongly reinforced the idea that if you waited long enough, the aros would come around to "normal" relationships, and that this was the goal to shoot for. It was, to me, immensely disappointed and rather upsetting. Plus, it honestly didn't feel like it fit what we'd seen of Ray and Zavier so far, or the dynamics of the novel. [EDIT: To be clear, Zavier had never expressed any kind of desire to be in a relationship that looked even remotely romantic, so my issue here is that it feels like a betrayal of his aromanticism, not that aromantic people in general should never want that. And it's never explored why his stance on what he desires would change, so it feels written for Ray's and alloromantic people's sakes.]

    I feel strongly like the epilogue undermines most of what the novel had accomplished, which is a real shame because this had so far been one of the best contemp aro rep out there.

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