ARC Review: Counterpoint by Anna Zabo

I was sent this book as an advanced copy for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own. 

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Summary: Twisted Wishes lead guitarist Dominic “Domino” Bradley is an animal onstage. But behind his tight leather pants and skull-crusher boots lies a different man entirely, one who needs his stage persona not only to perform, but to have the anonymity he craves. A self-imposed exile makes it impossible to get close to anyone outside the band, so he’s forced to get his sexual fix through a few hot nights with a stranger.

When computer programmer Adrian Doran meets Dominic, he’s drawn to the other man’s quiet voice and shy smile. But after a few dirty, demanding nights exploring Dominic’s need to be dominated, Adrian wants more than a casual distraction. He has no idea he’s fallen for Domino Grinder—the outlandish, larger-than-life rock god.

Dominic is reluctant to trust Adrian with his true identity. But when the truth is revealed prematurely, Dominic is forced to reevaluate both his need for Adrian and everything he believes about himself.

Release date: September 24th

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★★★★

After reading Syncopation I was really looking forward to reading more about Twisted Wishes and obviously about Dom and Mish (who I really hope will get her own book too!). This is Dom’s book.

Dominic (Dom) is the guitarist of the band that gives the name to the series, and best friend with the singer, Ray, who was one of the two MCs in book one. They were best friends in high school too, and since Dom has always been a nerdy and anxious kid who feared he wouldn’t be taken seriously on stage presenting the way he always did, he created a persona for himself, called Domino Grinder, who is this badass make-up-wearing guitar god who’s flippant and most definitely not a nerdy twink. So far he’s managed to keep his persona separate from his personal life, and that’s why he’s able to pick up men for quick hook-ups with no consequence for his more famous self. Nobody would ever think they’ve been in bed with the famous Domino Grinder from Twisted Wishes.

Things get complicated when he meets Adrian, a slightly older (I think he’s 36, whereas Dom is 27 if I’m not mistaken) computer programmer, who doesn’t want a casual hook-up and who appeals to Dom’s nerdier and kinkier side.

While book one focused a lot on band dynamics, this one was almost exclusively about Dom and Adrian’s relationship, and Dom’s feelings about having to let Adrian in on his most well-kept and dangerous secret. The band was very much present throughout the book though, and I love how Ray, Zav and Mish were always there for Dom.

Adrian also had his own POV and he was such an interesting character. He also had his own support system in his best friend/colleague/personal trainer Jackson, who’s a queer black man and in kind of the same place as Adrian in regards to what he currently wants from a relationship. I honestly hope he gets his own book?? Maybe in a spin-off series or something? Anyway, Adrian’s storyline focused on his life at work and I was kind of afraid it was going to feel cumbersome on top of everything else but it didn’t. It served to show Adrian outside of his relationship with Dom, which I found good because it helped ground him as a real person with flaws and everything, something that I feel would have lacked if the book only showed him when he’s with Dom, if that makes sense.

In any case, I simply adored their relationship. Everything made me so extremely happy, from all the food mentions (omg I was hungry) to the nerdy talks and their little dates outside just walking and showing each other the places that meant a lot to them. This is where I’m going to get shy (mom if you’re reading this please look away) but I surprisingly enjoyed the d/s dynamics too. Okay, it’s surprising because even though I enjoyed some of it in Syncopation, I eventually grew tired of it and I didn’t really like it in the sex scenes . Here however the dynamic was a little different, kind of softer, there was no pain play at all and I don’t know, I was able to enjoy it even without liking it myself. I also loved how important consent always was (something that was also always there in Syncopation) and that’s really great to see even if it should go without saying.

Something else I thought was done better than in Syncopation was the use of the dual POVs. I had a couple of instances in book one in which I thought things got repetitive and I didn’t see the point (pun, sorry) of having one POV placed the way it was etc. In this book there was no such problem and the POVs were well balanced and never repetitive.

I also really liked Dom’s arc, his realization that he needs to find new ways to cope with his mental illness, and the representation of someone who’s trying to balance different interests that don’t necessarily match the way they present themselves. I don’t really want to spoil anything but the way everything worked out in the end was so good and I might have teared up a little bit because I’m That soft bitch.

Rep: Dom is gay and Adrian is pan

Content and Trigger Wranings: sexual content, age gap, anxiety, panic attack (on page), d/s dynamics (no pain play), parental death mention, bullying mention.

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