Ever since I first discovered Anna Zabo’s fantastic Twisted Wishes series, I’ve been enthralled with Mish Sullivan. A towering, confident as all hell bass player, Mish is a mother hen to younger members of the band. She’s been a calm, quietly powerful presence in the previous two books in the series, Syncopation and Counterpoint, dispensing the sort of loving, firmly realistic advice that spoke to a hard-won inner strength. Reverb and its characters frequently refer to her as a rock goddess, and that title never once seems unearned.
To put it frankly, Mish Sullivan deserves a romance with her hot, respectful bodyguard David Altet. A prince among men who understandably worships Mish, David is a reserved, intriguing foil to the big personalities that make up Twisted Wishes and their coterie. It’s a shame that Mish has to go through being stalked by a sexist jerk in order to meet him, but such is the world in which we live.
Reverb handles its stalker narrative with the empathy and character specificity that has made Zabo a favorite of the romance community. They place the focus squarely on Mish, rather than dwelling overlong on the frightening, misogynistic actions of her stalker. There are even a few moments where Zabo doesn’t share his comments at all, focusing solely on Mish and directly prioritizing her experience over his opinion and attempted ownership of it. Her strength to carry on and choose to be present for the fans in spite of the danger, many of whom look up to the out-and-proud queer members of the band is deeply inspiring. And Zabo makes it perfectly clear—Mish does not need to be present for the fans or stay in the spotlight, and no one in the band or elsewhere demands it of her. It is a choice she makes, her own personal act of defiance, and it is in no way the only correct response.
David and Mish approach their relationship with maturity, openness and a refreshing lack of angst. They both acknowledge the risks, especially David, who fears that becoming involved with Mish could distract him from his job of protecting her. But both know that the other is something special, and they are old enough to know when they have to throw caution to the wind. Their relationship is particularly meaningful for David, who has become increasingly isolated since leaving the military and transitioning. Coming out plots and stories of struggle are extremely important, but stories where trans characters are unquestionably accepted for who they are and deal with obstacles beyond their fight for societal tolerance are just as vital. David is an extremely sexy and appealing love interest whose identity and experiences are never fetishized, least of all by the pansexual Mish. His story is one of romance with Mish but also of allowing himself to become part of the family that is Twisted Wishes, making Reverb the perfect parting gift for fans that have similarly fallen in love with Zabo’s band of kickass misfits.