Review: Syncopation by Anna Zabo

SyncopationRating: 3.75 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel


Ray Van Zeller has music and performing in his blood. His band, Twisted Wishes, is in on the verge of greatness when a heated confrontation with his drummer goes viral. Auditioning a new drummer is painful until Zavier Demos steps up. Ray knew Zavier as a teen and is not prepared to be face to face once again with his high school crush.

Zavier is looking for a new drumming gig by way of Julliard and a spot in an orchestra. A fallout with the conductor left Zavier with few options, but his drumming skills are exactly what Twisted Wishes needs. Zavier has followed the band and knows they are on the verge of something special, especially with Ray as the front man. But, Zavier sees the internal chaos that surrounds Ray as Ray tries to be what the band needs and appease their manager that is on Ray’s case at every single turn. Zavier longs to put his hands on Ray to soothe them both, but Zavier knows first-hand getting involved with a band mate is bad news.

The rock band gig was supposed to be temporary for Zavier, but the band, and each other, might be exactly what both men need.

I am always drawn to books about rock bands and I was interested to see what kind of world Zabo would create here. Ray starts out the book and is a focal point throughout. He has the contract and his band is getting better gigs, but his manager, Carl, is a nightmare and is constantly belittling Ray, and Ray feels he has no recourse. When an argument with his drummer goes viral, it’s just one more reason for Carl to come down on him. Ray will admit that he has issues with anger, but not everything is his fault as Carl makes it out to be and now there is little time to find a replacement drummer.

Zavier knows Ray was interested in him in high school, but at the time the two-year age difference was just enough for Zavier to keep his distance. Now, the age difference is no issue, but Zavier is not getting involved with a co-worker again as his last liaison blew up in his face.

Zavier knows what he wants though and more importantly what he doesn’t want. Ray is aromantic and is up front that he won’t buy you flowers or stare longingly into your eyes. It’s not who he is, but he craves touch and a sexual connection with a submissive partner that can be his best friend.

The book is highly character driven and highly band driven as Zavier finds his place in the band and the entire band has to navigate Carl. Personally, I am completely over the storyline of the verbally abusive band manager with ulterior motives. It doesn’t appeal to me at all and the issue with Carl runs through the entire book. The resolution of the Carl issue was also not strong enough and that storyline didn’t come together for me and lessened the enjoyment of the book overall.

The relationship between the men is also slow to develop with the main focus on the band itself. Since Zavier is aromantic, the relationship comes from that angle. By the end, I really got Zavier’s character, but it was more difficult earlier on. But, Zabo does a thorough job of explaining exactly what Zavier needs by the end of the book. My hesitation was then Ray and if what Zavier needed was what Ray needed. Ray wanted to be with Zavier, but it wasn’t clear if he was just twisting himself to fit what Zavier needed in some aspects of their relationship. Also, there is a vague thread running about Zavier’s BDSM training. It was an important part of who he was and his relationship with Ray, yet his training and so-called mentor that were referenced remained too vague for me. And, these were two grown men, and blushing, there was way too much blushing.

I did have a few issues that didn’t allow me to fully enjoy this book as much as I had hoped to, but as the start of a series, I will look for the next band member’s story.

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