Book Review: Counterpoint by Anna Zabo

Counterpoint

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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.

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This is my first book by the author and it’s also not very often that I read a series out of order these days. However, I just didn’t feel like reading Syncopation and this book was exactly the kind of read that I enjoy with very relatable characters, despite one being a very famous rock god. I had also read enough reviews to know that this romance was on a kinkier side, and though I was unsure about it, the author pleasantly surprised me with the way it was written.

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Dominic is a rockstar with a loud, larger than life personality but all of that is just a persona which he has created to be able to perform on stage, and hide his shy, nerdy, introverted self who gets panic attacks even at the idea of people getting to know about his true self. The way he struggles with his two realities, unable to understand how to reconcile them forms the crux of the angst and I thought his mental health issues were portrayed very realistically.

Adrian is an older computer engineer who has a well paying job, but has been alone for too long and wants more. He also has his own kinks which make it harder to find a suitable partner. He is also not much of a risk taker, which shows in the way he tolerates his toxic work environment and never thinks much about following his passions instead. But the best part I loved about him was that the entire third floor of his home is a library and I gladly wanted to jump into it.

Ray, Zav and Mish are great bandmates and friends and I loved how they were so supportive of Dom, even when he was unsure of himself. They are also very warm and welcoming to Adrian and their conversations were a lot of fun. Jackson is Adrian’s best friend, colleague and trainer and it was such a fun dynamic to read about. I really wanted to read more about Jackson’s own romantic exploits and I hope the author writes a book about him too. What surprised me most was Janelle, Adrian’s friend and kind of mentor in the BDSM community. She gave such sage advice to him about following his heart, and then was also warm towards Dom when they meet unexpectedly – it was nice to see such non judgmental support in the community.

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The author’s writing style is very smart with interesting conversations between the characters. There is also very well done anxiety rep here with on page panic attacks, and it all felt so raw and real and painful to read. I also never thought I would like D/s dynamics in a relationship a lot, but the way it’s written here is a more softer version of it while still being kinky and I really enjoyed it. The absolute seeking of consent in every sexual encounter also felt very refreshing and important and made the reading experience much better.

The romance does feel insta-lovey but that is not one of my pet peeves and I actually loved the instant chemistry between Dom and Adrian. The sex is very hot but what I liked more was the comfort they shared with each other. Going on dates to museums and galleries, spending their free time leisurely reading to each other, and Dom thoroughly enjoying food while Adrian loving feeding him all felt so perfect, and would be on my wishlist if I wasn’t married already.

It was also nice to see their lives individually with their own friends which gives us much more insight into their personalities outside of the romance. We don’t get to see much of how the band performs because they aren’t on tour, but we still get great glimpses into the band dynamics and how much they care for each other. I love how important a role friendship played in the book and it just shows that great friends always enhance a book – even the romantic ones.

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This is a very smart and sweet story of love and self-acceptance that I thoroughly enjoyed. It also holds up well as a standalone, but I’m sure it would have been a different experience if I had read the first one. If you love your nerdy or rockstar MCs, I would definitely recommend this one.

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