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Ball & Chain (Cut & Run Book 8) (English Edition)
 
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Ball & Chain (Cut & Run Book 8) (English Edition) [Format Kindle]

Abigail Roux

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Présentation de l'éditeur

Home from their unexpected deployment, the former members of Marine Force Recon team Sidewinder rejoin their loved ones and try to pick up the pieces of the lives they were forced to leave behind. Ty Grady comes home to Zane Garrett, only to find that everything around him has changed—even the men he went to war with. He barely has time to adjust before his brother, Deuce, asks Ty to be his best man. But that isn’t all Deuce asks Ty to do, and Ty must call for backup to deal with the business issues of Deuce’s future father-in-law.

Nick O’Flaherty and Kelly Abbott join Ty and Zane at the wedding on an island in Scotland, thinking they’re there to assuage Deuce’s paranoia. But when bodies start dropping and boats start sinking, the four men get more involved with the festivities than they’d ever planned to.

With the clock ticking and the killer just as stuck on the isolated island as they are, Ty and Zane must navigate a veritable minefield of family, friends, and foes to stop the whole island from being destroyed.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 960 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 308 pages
  • Pagination - ISBN de l'édition imprimée de référence : 1626491070
  • Utilisation simultanée de l'appareil : Illimité
  • Editeur : Riptide Publishing (15 mars 2014)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B00J1QZRMU
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110 internautes sur 122 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Cringe worthy 25 mars 2014
Par Jessewave - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle
This is the most difficult review I've ever written. I read this book almost 2 weeks ago and set it aside several times because I was so incredibly disappointed and furious at the same time at the deplorable way that long-time fans of the series were insulted by this debacle of a story. "Cringe-worthy" is the title I used for my review and that's exactly what the book is, because it is NOT Book #8 of Cut & Run, but book 2 of the Sidewinders. Oh, I forgot, Sidewinders book 2 will be released in June, so I guess Ball & Chain is book 1.5.

I dislike being manipulated by authors under any circumstances and it's even more egregious when that manipulation is for the sole purpose of selling books in a spinoff series.

I reviewed the original Cut & Run book in 2009, several months after it was released, and I loved the plot which was a gritty suspense thriller that starred two Special Agents who were hunting a serial killer. When Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux were interviewed on my site a few months later and announced that C & R would become a series I couldn't have been happier as I had fallen in love with and became invested in the MCs: Ty who grabbed my heartstrings and never let go and Zane who was awesome.

In this new book the plot is just silly. To add insult to injury there is no content editing, or any editing for that matter. There are also so many plot holes and inaccuracies that you could drive a truck through the story, and it's patently obvious that the book is being used as a platform or springboard for Nick as the hero in the next series. Instead of starring in their own adventure series Ty and Zane almost disappear except at the very end of Ball & Chain. Without a doubt this is Nick's story and Ty & Zane suffer the indignity of being supporting characters.

Clearly this is a blatant strategy on the part of the author to entice as many of the fans of an extremely popular series (C & R) into the offshoot (Sidewinder) by giving the characters of the new series major roles. It might have been a great marketing ploy but it didn't work for me as I won't be reading the new series. I can't respect an author who uses the built-in fan base for C & R in an attempt to advance the Sidewinder characters and series. What was forgotten on the way to the love-in with Nick and Kelly were the C & R fans. I don't think we deserved this in the penultimate book of such a loved and long running series. Maybe Abi will kill off Ty and Zane in book #9 as a parting gift to the fans; after all, she cut them off at the knees in Ball & Chain so she has to raise the stakes in the last book.

After waiting for so long for this book it is a huge disappointment on many fronts, starting with the profusion of giggles, smirks, cackles, snorts, guffaws etc. in every paragraph and chapter. Is this supposed to be a slapstick comedy rather than an action adventure? The first half of the book, which is a write-off for me, sure read like slapstick. The characters acted like a bunch of school children who were out of control guffawing at off colour jokes, or teenage girls falling down giggling at something they considered to be funny. Are these characters Special Agents or buffoons? There has always been a lot of fun between Ty & Zane as they loved to throw out one liners and "out pun" each other, but this is not what we have in Ball & Chain. The story is one big guffaw, with the multiple murders as a form of comic relief.

Right out of the gate the plot stumbled because there was no communication between Ty & Zane when Ty returned from his last deployment, about what happened after the cliff-hanger at the end of Touch & Geaux. Talk about a major missed opportunity! Was there any fallout after the very public kiss that Ty gave Zane at work in front of his colleagues just before he left? If so, I didn't read about it. All of the other Special Agents acted like the kiss had never happened, and the only setback for the guys was department policy which prevented Zane from supervising Ty now that he was his superior.

Nowhere in the story was there any indication about how Ty & Zane's relationship survived being apart for 6 months. I guess we have to assume that everything was honky dory. Where were the emotion and togetherness of Ty's and Zane's reunion? Other than one kiss when Ty arrived and one make-up sex scene (which was interrupted by Nick & Kelly next door) they were more apart now than when Ty was away. Where were the love and communication when they were reunited? Also, there wasn't even an attempt to follow up on the effects of PTSD on the Sidewinders and their families when the guys returned home, except for a passing reference. I suppose pursuing the PTSD angle would have involved real research.

If I were to write about all the plot holes and the many unresolved issues in this book my review would be twice its current length, but here are a few of note: When did Burns become so hated? Why was there all the violent antipathy from Nick towards Ty when he accused Ty of betrayal? Is this the same Nick who had been in love with Ty for so long? When have you ever known Zane without his knives or Ty without his guns? Never. How is it that Nick/Kelly were the only ones with a gun on the island except for the criminals? Did the guys actually share ONE gun? Why were Deuce and Livi bit players at their own wedding? Are we to believe that Livi invited a complete stranger to be her maid of honour at the wedding because she couldn't decide which of her best friends to select for that honour? Ty's parents performed a disappearing act - why were they even in the book if they were only going to be like seat fillers in a theatre? Nice to see Nick being given another important role, that of conveniently performing the wedding ceremony, but isn't it strange that Deuce didn't invite his "brother" Nick, the third "son" in the Grady family, to his wedding? (Totally laughable to introduce this at this stage in the series). Most authors have story boards to remind them of sub plots in previous plots but maybe there wasn't enough time to refresh Abi's memory. Do you care about Nick's backstory with his abusive father? I don't. That time could have been better spent with Ty & Zane. After all this was supposed to be THEIR book.

All of the books in this series have been bestsellers for Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux. However, after book #4 when Madeleine left, everything changed and not for the better. But I hung in there because I loved the characters and continued to support the series. B & C is the worst C & R book and it's the only one I have no interest in re-reading. Most of the other books have been comfort reads for me that I re-read over and over even though Ty & Zane drove me batty in the early years with their squabbling, but this ridiculous apology for a story is taking up valuable space on my ereader, so after finishing the review I will be deleting it from my kindle because of the bad taste in my mouth. Having digested C & R book #8 I'm not interested in reading #9 because I can see where it's headed with that scene between Nick and Liam Bell in the hospital.

I wonder what Madeleine thought if she read B & C, a book that gutted her heroes? I always felt that the deep love between Ty & Zane was the most important element that made them such great partners, but where was it in this book? It probably would have been better if the series had ended with book #7 because I would have been spared this apology for a story.

When the first Sidewinders book was released I liked it, especially Kelly, and looked forward to the new series because I was hoping Ty & Zane would make brief appearances. I don't know if Sidewinders will survive as a series and I don't care, but I wonder if all of the guys will suddenly switch sexual orientation conveniently and become gay; after all, Kelly was straight before he and Nick hooked up.

I deliberately stayed away from reading the reviews of this book because I didn't want to be influenced by other opinions before writing mine. Maybe some of you will agree with my comments and others won't, but it doesn't matter because it's all over for me.

RIP Ty & Zane. I`m sorry it had to end this way. I should have quit when I was ahead but as a huge fan I so wanted to follow you in your new adventures to the bitter end. I even overlooked some of the iffy plots like Stars & Stripes, my least favourite book, the one that completely changed Ty from the unpredictable, high strung, short tempered, acerbic, flawed, snarky, irascible, tough as nails Special Agent who took offence at almost everything and everyone, a character that I had loved, and turned him into a pussy cat. But what's been done here is way more egregious and an insult to the fans of C & R. If I sound emotional it's because I am and I make no apologies for that. The book is aptly named because the ball and chain are Nick and Kelly who dragged this book down to the level where my enjoyment was almost nil. One of the few enjoyable scenes for me was Ty's grandfather Chester who had the last laugh, or maybe I should say the last hit. I was relieved when the book ended because I couldn't take it any more.

Ball & Chain is a travesty and it was only redeemed in a minor way with Ty & Zane together at the end. But even when Zane accepted Ty's marriage proposal after turning him down in every chapter they were upstaged by Nick's and Kelly's engagement which happened BEFORE theirs. What a kick in the head! Couldn't Nick's & Kelly's engagement have waited for their own series?

2 stars for the two scenes in which Ty & Zane made meaningful appearances.
50 internautes sur 57 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
1.0 étoiles sur 5 I feel like I've been weighed down and tossed in the river. Spoilers. 31 mars 2014
Par L.L. - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle
Wow. Just. Wow. Before reading this, I thought nothing could be worse than Armed & Dangerous, which I actually like despite the the fact that I hate Julian and Cameron with the intensity of a thousand fiery suns. But in A&D, you can at least skip over the Julian/Cameron parts and still have plenty of Ty and Zane to enjoy. With this book, if you skip all the Nick and Nick/Kelly stuff, you'd have maybe ten pages left to read, because even when Nick isn't in the scene, they're still talking about him. The really sad thing is, I never would've dreamt of skipping Nick and Kelly scenes until this book because I really liked these two and enjoyed what they brought to the previous books.

Everyone else has done word counts on all the laughing, grinning, giggling, snickering, smiling etc, so I thought I'd do a name count (includes all variations of their names).

Ty: 1900
Zane: 1509
Nick: 1437
Kelly: 780

But wait! Let's take out the sex scenes that add absolutely nothing to plot or character development. (I didn't take out the hot tub scene since it never actually got that far, but obviously if I had, the totals for Ty and Zane would be even lower).

Ty: 1726
Nick: 1437
Zane: 1315
Kelly: 780

On the surface, it looks like Ty takes a more prominent role in this book, but he really doesn't. All the Big Damn Hero moments are reserved for Nick (who reads more like a Mary Sue in this book than an actual character). Ty's main purpose in this book was to further Nick's character development and validate all the preposterous retconning. Same goes for Zane. Kelly is little more than a cheerleader and comic relief with no real personality of his own. I feel pretty bad for him, actually. He deserves more than this mess of a book (as they all do) and this forced relationship with Wonder Nick.

The good:

-Kelly had some funny moments near the end. I liked that he told Zane to shave so Ty wouldn't lose it at the airport when he comes back from deployment.
-I actually liked the scene where Ty was able to figure out how to propose to Nick in three seconds. Nick's answer to a hypothetical question means nothing to Ty. For me, it highlighted how very important and serious Ty was about his proposals to Zane that he was torturing himself to the point that he couldn't see his way out of a paper bag until Zane says yes. I found it sweet.
-I really liked Zane's concern for Nick when he noticed the hand tremors.
-Chester and his shovel
-The final proposal for Ty and Zane was sweet.

The not so good:

-Kelly is the first word in the book. Kelly/Nick are the first couple to great each other. In a Ty & Zane book that should be about Ty & Zane. They also get engaged first, which while a very sweet scene, is just salt in the wounds at that point.

-Dark humor really only works when the characters don't acknowledge it by laughing and tripping over themselves after everything they say.

-Deuce and Livi and the rest of the Gradys become little more than filler characters. They're there purely for the purpose of making the reader fear for their lives. It's lazy writing and manipulative.

-Yes, these are M/M books and have never been about the representation of women. However, the one and only woman on the Snake Eater team is a turncoat. Livi uses "chick logic" to pick a maid of honor that she doesn't even know. That's not chick logic. That's manipulative author logic designed to make the reader feel bad for Livi when we find out her maid of honor - who should be her very best friend - is dead. This wasn't even a necessary plot twist because the woman would still be dead regardless of the roll she played in the wedding party. Then Livi can't go searching for her daughter at the end because eww, spiders. This would usually be balanced out by the awesomeness that is Mara Grady, but she gets maybe two lines before she's sent to the kitchens. As a woman, I felt insulted reading this nonsense.

-Speaking of representation, the one Asian dude gets two sentences in the entire book. At least one of those sentences was semi-important to the plot, and funny to boot.

-Liam showing up at the end just to sell the next Sidewinder book. I seriously wouldn't have been surprised if he'd "turned" to the audience and said, "You can read more about this adventure in Sidewinder #2: Cross & Crown, coming soon to an online retailer near you." Let's be real, that was the only reason to include that scene.

-The in-jokes. Look, I have nothing against in-jokes. They're nice little nods for the fans who like to follow the behind-the-scenes stuff. But the in-jokes shouldn't be so obvious that the rest of the readers - who are also fans - are scratching their heads. I can only assume that 4:20, calling Owen Ozone, the zombie shotgun shells, and the whole "I'm dying in Scotland" running gag are all in-jokes. One of the cardinal fandom rules: If it doesn't happen in the book (or on the show/movie), then it's not canon. If it's not canon, it never happened. It's okay to wink at your tumblr followers: Zane looks at the clock, sees it's 4:20. Nothing further needs to be said. The tumblr followers will get it. Everyone else (the vast majority) will just go on none the wiser and not have to scratch their heads wondering why that's so funny. So have all the in-jokes you want, but expect annoyance when they become plot points and an explanation isn't given to the wider audience.

-Sloppy editing. For example: At one point, the walls are so paper thin, Ty and Zane can hear Kelly roll off the bed in the room next door, and Kelly and Nick can likewise hear Ty and Zane having sexy times. Later, the walls are thick enough that Kelly and Zane can't hear Nick torturing a suspect in the game room even though they're standing right outside the door. Later still, those very same walls were thin enough for people who were nowhere near the game room to hear Nick torturing the guy. Stanton knew about the hidden passages, but then he forgot because the plot required it. He remembered them well enough to keep his kids out of them when they were younger. Even though these same kids played with the same house servants who did know about the passages. Ty calls everyone into the sunroom to warn them about the passages but then doesn't do that and instead questions Stanton in front of everyone about Milton's activities for his company. The generator goes out and sometimes they can see just fine, other times they can't. There's more but I'll stop here.

-The closed room (or in this case, closed island) scenario is contrived, forced and in the end boring. There's no sense of the environment in which this story is taking place. We're told there are stables. We never seen them. We're told there are caves. We never see them. We're told there's castle ruins. We never see them. The boats conveniently float out to sea during a storm when the action starts, and conveniently start coming back in when it's over.

The bad:

-I am not typically a fan of retconning, though it can be done well. That is not the case here. This book relies on so much of it to sell Nick as the "third Grady son" and it is sloppy. As others have already pointed out, if Nick really was that important to the Gradys' then Deuce would have already invited him to the wedding. Furthermore, Deuce has always been there when Ty goes home for visits. If Ty was really bringing Nick over all these years, Deuce would know him much better than he appears to know him here. This is after all the top-rated psychiatrist who was able to tell in one week if Ty and Zane could work together without killing each other. How could he not know if Nick could be trusted with the kids if he's known Nick all these years?

-Nick/Kelly is a forced retcon of epic proportions. The author herself has even said she never intended for these two to get together. It shows. I love their friendship. I don't buy their romance.

-The character assassination (that is, misuse of characterization) was pretty glaring. Zane's in a better place and this apparently makes him a zombie with no personality, sense of humor, initiative or motivation. Ty's just there to build up Nick as the best person in the world by Ty constantly being set up as the worst friend in the world. I already mentioned poor Kelly's treatment in regards to his relationship with Nick. He's also grossed out at one point about sticking a turkey thermometer in a dead guy's liver but then later has no qualms playing with the dead's guys torn up intestines. This is supposed to be the hardcore Navy doctor who's the toughest fighter of all the Recon boys and has seen bodies blown to bits and pieces. Earl tore up the Appalachia trail in a Rambo rage but couldn't be bothered to get in on the action at his son's own wedding. Mara may as well not have been there.

-Zane and Ty were on pretty shaky standing with their relationship at the end of T&G, and it really annoyed me that Nick's reactions to Ty's lies are given page time but Zane's are not. Are we to assume that he's a-okay with everything that Ty did now? Where's the discussion of what is and is not acceptable to hold back from each other? Where's the discussion of what constitutes a betrayal and what doesn't? Zane keeps saying no to Ty's proposals and it's played for a joke, but why not use that to examine the rift that is still in their relationship? Or are we to assume that Zane's "better place" mentality means he came to terms with all this while Ty was gone and now sees no reason to discuss any of these issues with him? Because Zane would only take a few months to think about something so minor like that, even though that lie is the foundation of their relationship. There is one moment near the end of the book when, once again, Nick and Ty are having it out about Ty's lies and Zane says he wishes Nick would kick Ty's butt. That is some passive-aggression right there. Zane has issues! Let's address those, please.

-Too many TSTL moments to count. Retreating to a remote island for a wedding when you're receiving death threats and help is hours away if something happens is not a good idea. The boys seriously shared one gun through most of the book - even though it's mentioned at one point that the house has an arsenal and that each guy supposedly brought their own gear that we never see or hear about again. Their investigation methods are sloppy. You have one detective and two FBI agents. Guess what? All three of them can lead the investigation. Have Nick, Ty and Zane cross examine each other first, then all three of them can question the guests. None of them think to check the victim's rooms, none of them think about asking any of the other guests to show them any pictures or video they would've taken. They let the one cameraman they do bother asking to do this check his video by himself - how do they know he's not the perp and isn't erasing evidence off his recording? Kelly bursts in on Zane's interview to declare his love for Nick, because apparently he has the self-control of a three year-old. I can go on but then this review will never end.

-Wonder Nick. Think Jonathan from the Buffy episode "Superstar". Nick is good at everything. He's an awesome friend, a much better friend than that horrible Ty. He was willing to sacrifice himself to save Ty, never mind that Ty was willing to do the same. Nope, it's only Nick's actions that count in that scene. He's a devoted son to a bastard of a dad. He's so devoted, he chooses the saintly route of saving his dad's life when our good guys Ty and Zane would've let him rot. He's a good boyfriend. He's so close to Zane all of a sudden that he has to tell Ty to stop drinking in front of Zane - which is conversation Ty's already had with Zane at least a half-dozen times. He can torture people - while shirtless. He can save children. He can dodge speeding bullets even when he doesn't know they're coming. He can officiate weddings. He can tightrope walk through a ring of fire while juggling chainsaws over a pool of man-eating crocodiles. He's da man! I liked Nick until this book. Now, I really don't ever want to see him again, and this is going to negatively impact how I see him on rereads of the previous books. And it's a really small thing, but it annoyed me when Nick was giving Zane tips on how to use knives when cutting up vegetables. Because we all know Zane's never handled a knife before. No way could he have ever figured that out on his own.

-I thought the security guards in my office were incompetent. At least they check people for weapons as they come into the building. Not these guys. They'll let you all the way into the house and even then won't check you for weapons until you're getting near their boss. And these guys are supposed to be former military?

-The mystery. I don't even know where to start on this. So much is pinned on Milton's actions, what he's doing, what he's not, what he's capable of in terms of morality, and we never really meet Milton except for one scene where he has maybe five lines at the most. The more we find out about Milton's involvement, or lack of same, the more ridiculous it gets. Burns had to hire someone inside Stanton's firm to spy on him? Guess what? If Stanton's building weapons for the military - they'd already be working with a military advisor. Several, in fact. There is no need to have someone hidden on the inside. Each turn this takes, with Burns (who's suddenly the most hated person on the planet?) and then the final reveal that this was all de la Vega's doings to pin this all on Zane and torture him is just... I lack words. It makes no sense that de la Vega had anything to do with it. Why would de la Vega go through all this trouble? How was Zane suffering during any of this? The only people to die were people he didn't know or care about, and he didn't even bother with the investigation until he was forced to when Wonder Nick couldn't follow through with things. Not very good planning there, Jefe. I'm just scratching my head why de la Vega would chose this route instead of capitalizing on the Texas drug mule link that was set up in Stars & Stripes and go after Zane's family instead. This is a wasted plot line, and it's convoluted and preposterous beyond belief.

-Too much telling, no showing. How did Zane get in a better place despite all the worrying he was doing for Ty? As for Ty and Nick: what PTSD? I saw no real signs of it except a couple of flashbacks used for plot convenience, then they're miraculously cured at the end because they have a new mission now.

-Nitpicks: Would Milton really not have a password on his phone? Zane already knew the time on the watch, he just didn't know the seconds. I'm assuming he was worried about a password attempt limit which, if exceeded, would corrupt the files and that's why he wanted to get the seconds from Nick. Would've been nice if he'd said that though, otherwise, he just looks incompetent for not trying the combos himself.

Overall: I expected better than this. Much better. This was clearly written not with Ty and Zane in mind but with Nick/Kelly and the TS spinoff series in mind. I like Nick (again, until this book) and I like Kelly, but they're not the reason I read the C&R books. Ty and Zane are, and they felt neglected here. I can't help but wonder if all those Nick-Ty scenes where they're hashing out their issues re: Ty's lies were originally supposed to be Zane-Ty scenes that were rewritten in a not-subtle attempt to insert more Nick and sell the spinoff series. This was a severe disappointment and I'm so glad I borrowed this instead of buying it.

Edit: After further contemplation, I'm lowering the rating from a padded two-stars to the one-star it deserves. I've remembered other things that bothered me while reading (cyber-tech Zane getting his computer hacked or needing to be told what an escort receipt email looks like from Wonder Nick; the final proposal which I do think is pretty adorable is still troublesome because if Ty really wanted a place he and Zane could call their own, he really should have included Zane in that decision-making process before buying the house with no money and no job; etc etc etc). It really pains me to give a C&R book less stars than I did Warrior's Cross, but that is what the book deserves, imo.
75 internautes sur 90 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Pains me to write this about a C&R book. *SPOILERS* 11 mars 2014
Par Val - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
This is going to be long. I'm typing this out because I'm quite invested in this series and I care about the characters. If I didn't, I wouldn't bother. I'm going for constructive criticism vs. just slagging off the parts I don't like. I'm editing this to add this point: at the end of the day, a review is how you feel about the book afterwards, not the technicalities. Many technical aspects can be overlooked if you are fulfilled, if not, they stick out like a sore thumb. After reading this book, It felt like I went to see a concert headlining my absolute favorite band (after waiting a whole year for them to come back to town). The opening act was ok, but they played way too long. When my band finally came out, they only had time to play a couple of songs - not even their best ones. I was left the memory of the bad lighting, poor sound, seedy venue etc & not of the band I came to see. Nightmare for this fan. Trust me, I wanted to love this book!

First: As a whole, up until now the Cut and Run series was phenomenal. For me they were all 4 & 5 star material. Up until this book my least favorite was 'Sticks & Stones' (Book 2). My favorite thus far (for me) was the last one; Touch & Geaux (book 7). In comparison, (this is strictly my opinion) Ball & Chain felt slapped together and experimental. Someone (editors, beta-readers even the author) should've played the adult in the room and said "no" to many of the indulgent decisions made with this book. If they had reviewed the whole series thoroughly (7 books) and took an honest look at it and it's progression, there is no way this story would've made it to my iPad. Stop right here if you haven't read it and don't want spoilers. If you are this far/invested into the series, most likely you will read this book anyway - you may love it. It's personal to the reader!

SPOILERS FROM THIS POINT ON. CONTINUE AT YOUR OWN RISK :)
That said, let me tear the bandaid off of this wound called 'Ball & Chain'

The good:

- The opening scene was beautiful and the ending scene is absolutely stellar and perfect for Ty and Zane. Well handled. It's the middle scenes that have me in pain.

- The lecture to Ty from Nick about Ty's drinking around Zane, and the heartfelt advice on his marriage proposal to Zane.

- Touching T/Z moments. Like the moment Zane realized they wouldn't be partners anymore (while arming up for a fight). Ty with Amelia. T/Z walking on the beach. Ty and Zane sitting comfortably out and together at the wedding. There were a few more. Unfortunately, they don't stick out like they did in previous books. However, there were definitely *moments*.

- The healthy re-emergence of Zane. He's in a good place in his life.

That's what I could come up with for the good. T&G left a lot of issues hanging waiting for resolution. Nothing was *actually* resolved on-page. It was all pushed aside. Thus the list below:

The troubling parts:

- The healthy re-emergence of Zane. Yes, I put that as a good thing above BUT: It's perplexing that we were told he's in a better place but really not shown to us. Sure, he looked "Beautiful", what else had changed about him? He started on these changes in Touch and Geaux. We didn't get to see him further these changes. Does he still do his art? How's work for him? Does he still interact with his old Team? Did he actually get to the be best man in Perrimore's wedding? (ok, little details, but they were thrown out there, so where's the follow-up?) Alternatively how does Ty react to these changes he started on in book 7? How was their initial reconnection beyond Ty getting off of the ship? Reunited and it feels so good? (yes, I'm talking about the "hey I haven't seen or talked to you in six months sex"! Didn't happen!) Touch & Geaux set this book up for potential greatness. The potential was derailed and I know exactly where. We took a detour to Nick's childhood home and visited his liver-needing abusive drunk father and doormat mother + various sisters. It was a touching story/well written, but I didn't need to read about that in a C&R book. Nick basically summarized the same tale to Kelly and again to Ty. Why show the reader that big scene in the beginning? Ty and Zane have enough dramas to deal with (and really, some of the same treatment that was given to Nick should've been redirected to T/Z). Anyway, Zane is supposedly healthy, Ty is supposedly not. So we're told.

- FBI team? Remember them? I do. Clancy, Perrimore, Alston and Lassiter got an "also-ran" mention in Ty's brief return to the FBI office in Baltimore. These are the people that worked with Ty and Zane throughout their permanent FBI partnership. No actual reactions from these people on Ty/Zane being a couple (that must have been quite the shocker at the end of T&G). We were told about general reactions that were had (all happened off-page), but besides McCoy's we get nothing from the work-partners we grew familiar with during the course of this series. And this is also the office where the mole supposedly had planted listening devices. Strange.

- Being an ex active duty military member (also married to one), I can relate to deployments, and going away. And coming back. And readjusting to life after. That wasn't really explored. It was mentioned (the PTSD episodes, feeling lost, disconnected). The author didn't show us how Ty and Zane dealt with the changes as a couple. Ty seemed to be on his own there. These re-acclimation issues deserve much more than lip-service. Most people don't know that military members go to briefings before they return home to be prepared for what to expect when returning to a spouse or a lover (suicide and divorce rates sky-rocket after deployments). This is *without* the added issue of PTSD. You have to deal with your significant other going on with their life without you. People pick up new habits, get new hobbies, find new friends, change routines and do all sorts of things...which ties back to Zane. Ty and Zane were separated for a month BEFORE Ty got deployed. Ty never got to really see the changes Zane made then. Add 6 months to that. This should've been addressed.

- Nick as a prominent feature of THIS series. I love Nick (and Kelly) and the Sidewinder guys, but I care about them in this series as side characters. Just like I do the FBI team. Even in Armed and Dangerous, Cameron and Cross were still in the background. And when we saw their POV they were at least talking and/or thinking about Ty and Zane and the current situation! We certainly didn't visit Julian or Cameron's families to get their back-stories. The book read like content was carved out 3/4 of the way through the writing process to make room for Nick + his problems (and Kelly's antics). Nick and Ty's friendship (?) It felt very "insert backstory here"- I'm not sure if that was by design. Nick all of a sudden has been harboring this long grudge against Ty. Nick basically declares that Ty has been a s***ty friend. Wow, Nick?! Really? You defended him like a champ in T&G? To be fair, he did say he was "faking it til he made it" as far as his good feelings towards Ty after the events in T&G, and there were decent scenes from that, but by the time we got to the Nick/Ty truce I was over all of the Nick drama. I probably would've been in a way better place about this book if a lot of the N/K scenes were trimmed. A few scenes would've be fine, but as it was I was in Nick (and Kelly) overload. If I were to skip over all of major Nick-related revelations and heroics, I'd only have a few pages left. Ty and Zane are experienced FBI agents who in past books were quite capable of doing investigations (Federal Bureau of...?), why were they reduced to Nick's little helpers? Was this designed to get me in tune with Nick? It had the opposite effect on me - I wanted to tune him out. Also, (my opinion) this installment would've been better off for Nick/Kelly to be ambiguous about their relationship until the plane ride home as they originally mentioned, leaving Ty and Zane to curiosity/guessing vs. it becoming an active part of an already complicated narrative salad. For people who have NOT picked up the Sidewinder novella they'd be able to find out about the relationship along with Ty and Zane (I'm lucky I read it, because I'd be thoroughly confused if I hadn't). Owen would've been better as the additional Sidewinder. He already had some problems with Ty (so we could've gotten all of that 'Ty sucks' stuff out of the way). It was even mentioned that he would be a better date (vs. Kelly) for the purpose in the book! Owen works corporate security. He is a much more believable character for that role to me. I don't claim to be a writer or an editor but The balance is hard to achieve with secondary characters. They got it so right before. T&G got it right. So did A&D. This one just felt like one big Nick injection. Again, nothing against Nick, but I came for the Ty and Zane show. The two FBI agents I fell in love with. Sure I like their friends, and if they all get books I'll get to know them in those. But not in Ty and Zane's book. Hopefully everyone involved in this series and it's production keeps that in mind for the series finale.

- Duece and Livi were bit players at their own wedding. So were the Gradys. That family is one of the reasons I love this series so much. About that "chick logic"? I must be a dude, because it made no sense. Chester's shovel came in handy at the end killing off the Butler. That's right. The butler did it. (well, kind of. It's complicated). I wish we could've spent more time with the Gradys.

- Did I mention that I love Ty and Zane sex scenes? Ms. Roux has a unique talent for laying these down on the page! Well, here's the problem: There was only one full-fledged shag ---while Nick and Kelly (these two. AGAIN) cheered and banged on the wall. Some nice action in the beginning---interupted by Duece's phone call. And the semi-one in the hot-springs gets cut off by a dead body (yikes, way to kill the mood). And again: NO REUNION SEX. We were slighted! Of course, it's not just the sex, it's the intimate conversation that Ty & Zane often reserve for before/afterwards. They have resolved a lot of their personal issues through these heart-warming honesty sessions in the past. The soul-searching convos didn't happen this time.

- Poor Zane. He was reduced to a side character very often in this book. He was so broken in previous books that his newly gained strength and self-improvement should've been utilized to support Ty during his time of readjustment. Where is "in a good place" Zane to help him through it? Sure, the nightmares, but he's always helped Ty through those! What about the rest? Also, in other books he was ready to beat Earl Grady to a pulp when he felt Ty's character was attacked or criticized. How about when Nick was attacking him? Where was the loyalty there? Crazy. Offering to hold Ty down while Nick beat him was a step too far. In the past Zane has ALWAYS shown loyalty to Ty. It's good that Zane and Nick are getting friendly, but - this is the guy who laid a kiss on his boyfriend about a year and a half prior. Am I supposed to believe that Nick and Zane are so close now that Zane will take Nick's side over Ty's? When did Nick become Zane's great friend? During the 48 hour period Nick came home during deployment? The car ride to the ferry? I feel like I'm missing something. Not only that, he said "I hope he kicks his a**" referring to Nick kicking Ty's a**, so if he agrees with Nick this much, this is an example of something Ty and Zane REALLY needed to work out (among the all of the other issues mentioned above). Why didn't this get worked out? Because this is about Nick's problems. Sorry Zane.

- BURNS! REALLY? HE HAD NOTHING TO SAY ABOUT TY AND ZANE BEING OUT AND PROUD AS A COUPLE?! WHAT?! How about Ty leaving the FBI? Still nothing?! AND then his death. Wow. Absolutely nothing from Burns explaining what the heck was going on. The "need to know" phrase he uses is very annoying, but it is something he's done throughout the series. Well, Burns...THEY NEED TO KNOW! I only hope in the next book the author explores his mind-set and help Ty and Zane understand some of his logic. Because Burns can't explain it now.

- Poor editing. There were some technical and story discrepancies that should have been fixed and retooled. I'm not an editor - far from it, so I shouldn't notice these things ~ yet I did. There were a couple of misspellings, word and phrase repetition + time and character mishaps...examples: Ty thinking about how he'd missed his 'anchor' (Zane) for a year. He'd been gone 6 months, not a year. Also the re-write of history: Nick being another "child" to the Gradys. If so, you'd think he'd be invited to the wedding? Or at least mentioned by the Grady's as more than one of Ty's marine buddies? The back-pedal offered as an explanation highlighted the history rewrite and made it glaringly obvious---we were supposed to just accept that? C'mon! Aside from insulting my intelligence, what purpose did this development serve? At this point I was thinking: "Oh, I understand. We are going to have to make some more room for Nick". I get that Nick is really important to Ty (I got that from the first time we met him). He really did NOT have to become another member of the Grady family to convince me. Even Zane was looking at us through the 4th wall saying "REALLY?!" And Owen---he had such a hissy fit over Ty in Divide & Conquer, that it felt quite incredulous that he's not at all shocked by the fact that two more of his Recon team have come out (HEY OWEN! HALF OF YOUR TEAM TURNED OUT TO BE GAY! oh...no big deal? Ok. <---strange right?). Burns is like a second father to Ty, but no talk? No pulling him aside to have a conversation? I didn't recognize these people. Series continuity is important. Cohesive content editing would've taken care of a lot of this, and I think in this instance the author was done a disservice by the team charged with the publication of this edition. Either that or it was ignored by everyone involved and published anyway (which is a bigger problem and I really hope that wasn't the case.)

- The Clue-themed mystery ... Well yeah, this was very "jump-the-shark" or pulling a "Cousin Oliver" however, I love crazy over the top cases. "Murder she Wrote" was one of my favorite shows growing up, so I'll give that a pass and not get too critical here. I have one comment about Ty and Zane's foe, de la Vega: He makes poor choices when he hires people to handle his business. It was an extremely long, twisted & confusing way to simply frame Zane for stealing technology. Many dead bodies, witnesses and a trail. Mr. de la Vega, for someone who runs a cartel, you are beyond sloppy.

- The Nick and Kelly proposal in Ty and Zane's story! *gut punch* OUCH! WHY?! This is the thing that really messed me up! Ty and Zane have worked for ages on-page to get to the point of proposal (and fans have been praying for it!). The T/Z relationship has progressed to this on it's own time and I feel it's well earned. I'm not a fan of insta-love, and this is one of the reasons Cut & Run been an outstanding journey to take. To have their "thunder" stolen? I was insulted. Nick and Kelly's proposal should've been in their own book. Felt just thrown in there to try to make this book more 'epic', or maybe I was supposed to feel more interested in N/K? All I felt was Ty and Zane fading into the background, and I'm not ready to let them go yet. There IS one more book. I'll say goodbye to them there (provided this doesn't happen in book 9). 'Touch & Geaux' made an excellent point: in any relationship all parts need to be strong on their own to make a solid one. Same applies to these books. Nick and Kelly/Sidewinder as an off-shoot of this series, in my opinion need to work that stuff out in their own books because they have crippled this one. I'm pretty upset about that. :(

In conclusion:

What gives me hope is that the Ty and Zane proposal game was very in character for them, and the ending saved this book/series from dying a horrible death of "nope, not ever reading that one again - delete from tablet. Skip the next one"

Die-hard fans *points to self* will not be disappointed with the ultimate outcome of this edition of Ty and Zane's long journey ~ they've taken the next step in their relationship as they've done throughout the series and are headed for the finale. However, I feel we were robbed of a great deal. There were too many missed (ignored?) opportunities to tie up loose ends for a strong finish. My heart is broken to have to give it 2 stars. One for the opening scene and for little moments here and there. 1 for the stellar job on the proposal at the end. For me to give it more would be disingeniuous and pandering. I hope the next in the series gets back to focusing on Ty and Zane's road ahead. It was an ok read independently (without it being part of a comprehensive series I would've given it a solid 3), but it didn't come close to meeting the standards set by the previous books in this series and that's just how I judged it. To give you an idea how all of them ranked for me: S&S1 was 4. C&R, A&D were 4.5 - F&C, D&C, S&S2, were 5, and if I could, I would give T&G 5.5 just for it being a such a surprise emotional hit in my mind(a good one). When the experiments work, they are awesome. When they don't they fall hard. I think that's what happened here. Readers who are further ahead of me and already feel invested in Nick and Kelly may embrace this book more than I did. I've read the 1st Sidewinder, but I'm not there yet with Nick and Kelly (all they've had was a short story so far), therefore it felt like an unnecessary story invasion. All other problems aside, the connection between Ty and Zane in a Cut & Run book should NEVER be compromised to attempt to connect us to other characters. I'm under the strong impression that this book was written while the author was in Sidewinder head-space discovering Nick O and Kelly Abbott, and not exploring Beaumont Tyler Grady, and Zane Zachery Garrett. That is a shame. Please, Ms. Roux. Revisit these guys. They are why the C&R universe is what it is.

One disappointment out of 8 isn't a bad track-record at all. READERS: PLEASE DO NOT LET THIS REVIEW DETRACT YOU FROM READING THE SERIES. I STILL HAVE HOPE! My advice to you if you want to take this story on: throw all of your expectations away, and just enjoy it for the story it is (adventures with Nick and Ty *featuring boyfriends Kelly & Zane) - and perhaps you won't be disappointed like I was. Even if for me this one fell painfully short, I still love Ty & Zane's story (it's kind of obvious by my long entry, sorry about that) and hold out hope the series won't continue to be hijacked by strange about-faces in logic and/or characters again. There may actually be reasons for some of the actions in book 8 that will set up a satisfying final installment. We'll see. I also want to add that the author can take the story wherever she likes (it *is* her tale to tell), but if there isn't enough Ty and Zane, I lose interest/enjoyment. My reviews for her other books weren't as fleshed out because when I finished them, I felt sated. Ty and Zane's growth in their characters and relationship were always way more memorable than any problems the books may have had. As I said in the beginning, this book review reflects how I felt after reading the book. This one lacked what was done so well in previous books; Ty and Zane's connection/character exploration. It switched my focus to problems I may have forgiven had Ty and Zane been the headliners they deserve to be. Here's to a great book 9! <---Not sarcasm. I'm rooting for it. (Book pre-ordered from Riptide publishing)
30 internautes sur 35 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Sadly, I am done 18 mars 2014
Par Kathleen - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle
I will never think of this book as part of the Cut & Run series. Too much focus on Nick and, by association, Kelly. Should have been designated a Sidewinder novel. The first third of the book was a yawn. These four men together acting like girls at a slumber party. Then a confusing main body with too many characters to keep straight and a truly unbelievable plot line. i won't go into the plot holes.

I love this series, but I think I'm done. I need to say goodbye to Ty and Zane because the author certainly has. I'm going to go cry in privacy now and mourn the loss of one of my all-time favorite series and couples.
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As I am done with the series at this juncture, here's my quick take on the series (strictly personal):

1) Books 1 - 4 are glorious. I fell in love with Ty and Zane, warts and all.
2) Book 5. When co-writer Madeline Urban (who wrote Zane's character) left the series, I see Zane acting out of character. This I attribute to Abi Roux (who writes Ty's character) now writing the story solo.
3) Books 5-7. Ty becomes the main focus of the series.
4) Enter Sidewinder #1 after C&R #7. Suddenly we have another gay couple and a spinoff.
5) Book 8, which should have focused on Ty and Zane and resolving their collective issues, is focused on Nick. In essence, Sidewinder #2. Zane basically exists as a prop in the story, and Ty...well, I can't begin to describe how out of character I felt he acted. Obviously, Abi is bored with C&R and Ty & Zane, and ready to move on.
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In summary, I will enjoy rereading the first half of the series many, many times over the coming years.
53 internautes sur 64 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 So disappointed (and angry and sad and...) 26 mars 2014
Par Aunt Lynn - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
***** Warning: Spoilers ahead for this and previous books. ******

Regardless of its flaws and the bumps along the way, and even though I have some mixed feelings about individual installments, 'Cut & Run' is one of my favorite series in this genre. I pimp it to anyone who will listen, re-read it at least annually (which I did again in prep for this release) and usually await each new release with eager anticipation. I love Ty and Zane, their interactions, their conversations and disagreements, their imperfections, their growth, the intense emotion, even the hawt smexxin as it often carries the plot along. I read it for them. I want them talking and growing and showing us -- and themselves -- how they have changed and how much they feel for each other, and if there are some adventures and action along the way for our hard-ass Feebs-in-love, I'm a happy camper. I even love the interjection of the quirky secondary characters since Ty and Zane have remained front and center. I want to be friends with these boys; I want to cook with Mara and Zane for a big cross-family dinner in Bluefield (while staying out of Chester's way), hang out with the guys in Baltimore, and ride horses at the ranch with Harrison. Fun and entertaining, I just have serious lurve for it -- enough lurve that I usually can ignore the stuff that doesn't work for me because of the stuff that does.

I admit, however, that I was worried about 'Ball & Chain' ever since I read the last pages of 'Touch & Geaux.' I had more trepidation at the end of that book than usual with a series title; not only did we get a cliffhanger with Ty being re-activated and -deployed, the big self-outing had me quite anxious to see how their co-workers and supervisors reacted and what consequences there would be to The Kiss. Plus I really, really wanted these two to talk about what was revealed in New Orleans and the aftermath of that (because I feel strongly that many things were left unresolved to the reader and to themselves) in addition to what I assumed would be effects of Ty's deployment and their separation. I also admit to having some fear of where this author would take book 8, because military-/war-based stories just aren't my thing and I was concerned she would have us travel with Sidewinder to wherever it is they would be going. Probably somewhere with sand.

So it was with both eagerness and anxiety that I picked up 'B&C' on pre-order from Riptide. I refused to read the blurb or any of the reviews out there (and haven't yet), not even going to GR or Amazon to peek at the average rating and closing my eyes when Roux put up teasers on her Tumblr site so I could go in with no expectations beyond my own. I sat down and read it in one sitting, staying up wayyyyy too late to finish it up and at the end I cried a little...but not from tears of joy. During and after I have had so many emotions about it -- and the majority of them were not good. Disappointment. Anger. Confusion. Disbelief. Sadness. Grief. I even read it a second time just to see if maybe I missed or misinterpreted something, but no -- felt as bad as I did the first time around. I suspect there will be readers who love this book, but I am not one of them.

I barely know where to begin with the issues I had, so I think I'll just ramble for a bit to try and get it all out into this two-star review -- one that I am loathe to write because I love these guys and the series so much, and one that I've spent almost two weeks writing. Putting my thoughts and feelings onto the page in itself was somewhat therapeutic, however, as my grief over what is really the loss of good friends is strong. Warning: it's going to be long, by far the longest review I've ever written, I think (and if you know me, that's something). And I can't really fully critique without talking about what bothered me, so note:

**** SPOILERS AHEAD; IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS, DON'T READ FURTHER ****

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What worked for me (not a whole lot, I really had to reach deep to find things):

The welcome home first scene coming off the ship (so essentially the first seven pages).

Ty and his continued proposals (which maybe took up a total of five or so pages). This is a good and bad point for me. I loved the concept and Zane's reasoning for turning him down, which made total sense to me. To go along with this, I even liked Nick telling Ty to do it Zane's way and giving him advice on what to do to get Zane to "yes" (though I wish it had been Deuce telling him instead of Nick because, well, it was Nick (more below)). That said, I still felt like the final one -- as big as the gesture was -- should have been rejected as well based on Zane's requirements.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

What didn't (a whole heckalot):

OVERVIEW (to be explored below):

Let's be clear: this is not a 'Cut & Run' book, this is a 'Sidewinder' book. 'B&C' does little -- if anything -- to advance the 'C&R' series; it focuses entirely too much on most anything other than Ty and Zane (mostly on SuperNick), who are shoved into the role of secondary characters in their own book and barely recognizable; does not address any of the issues stemming from the previous book or their time apart; has a convoluted, overly-complicated mystery element, a plot full of holes and too many characters; contains cast who often act inconsistently and/or out of character; and is lazily written and edited, often telling us what happens instead of showing.

MISSED OPPORTUNITIES

First, I felt that Roux missed, dare I say squandered, huge opportunities in how she handled -- or didn't, in this case -- not only all of the unresolved issues from 'T&G,' but the six months our heroes have been apart between books and how everyone was effected by that time: Ty's deception and lies; Zane's sobriety; Zane's new hobbies, job duties and independence; their coming out at work; Ty's lasting effects of the horrors he and his team apparently experienced in this recent deployment. For whatever reason, the author chose not to address any of this (and no, I don't consider any mere mentions satisfactory, it felt like glossing over at best) and I felt cheated, dammit.

There was no "I-missed-you-so-much, welcome-home" smexxin; no discussion about or description of how either of them spent their time while apart; very little talk to themselves or each other about their feelings or changes (good or bad); no getting used to each other again or Ty adjusting to civilian life. Nothing. Ty comes home, there is a very brief (albeit important, never mentioned again) scene at work, then it jumps to two weeks later and they are essentially heading to Scotland. We are told multiple times that they have both changed, but we are not shown. We barely see Ty and Zane together at all, in fact; one and a half smexxin scenes that did nothing for me, no talks when one of them couldn't sleep, no meals together, no getting dressed in the morning, no silently communicating as partners, no going out, none of the interaction we have come to see and expect that helps them grow.

I would then expand this issue to my opinion that this was a "tell" not "show" book overall, which I can't remember the other installments being. One of the things I love about this series is how Roux (with Urban in earlier installments) has made us care for these characters by giving them to us in every way possible -- good, bad, ugly -- and we do see a whole lot of their lives in the other books. That did not happen here, and as a result I didn't "feel" them at all. I felt there was no character development in this book, no conflict/resolution to lead to it (and there were several opportunities), no chemistry between them, or perhaps the worst of all, no intimacy between Ty and Zane. One of the things I was most looking forward to -- the discussions about the things I mentioned above -- never happened. And when they do talk at length, what is it about? Nick, Nick and Ty, and Nick and Kelly. Which brings me to my next point...

NICKNICKNICKNICKNICKNICKNICKNICKNICKNICKNICK

While there is a divide among fans regarding the shipping of Kelly and Nick, I am on the side that likes these two together, enjoyed 'Shock & Awe' and happy they are getting their own off-shoot 'Sidewinder' series. I actually adore Kelly and his laid-back attitude (and yes, I even buy his Gay-For-Nick-iness) and like Nick...okay. I feel they are a natural pairing and even found myself picturing that couple before Roux put up the freebie (that became 'S&A') on her Tumblr site. However, as I was reading and I got to the first Nick narrative which had nothing to do with the initial plot, I realized where this was headed: Nick, if not Nick and Kelly, would be sharing this book. But it was so much worse than I thought it would be; not only did we get Nick's point of view, he essentially became the main protag, forcing Ty and Zane into becoming diluted secondary characters in their own book (along with Kelly, who felt really out of character here to me based on the little I know of him and was like Funny Sidekick Guy). Nick and his storylines/issues, as well as being elected lead investigator (see more below), hijacked this book and stole the focus from our beloved main pair. I kept thinking "we're back to Nick /again/?" And it's not just Nick, it's SuperNick, who can do everything from investigate a murder, cook and clean up after breakfast, give architecture and history lessons, offer brotherly/fatherly advice whether solicited or not (and when said brother/father should have been the ones giving it), save the day, officiate weddings, and provide alternative interrogation sessions when necessary. While I didn't mind them traveling with Ty and Zane (though why Owen wasn't called in if he is supposed to be head of security for some big company I'll never understand), they had waaaayyyyy too much page and plot space, in my opinion, and I suspect Roux may have alienated a portion of her devoted fanbase in favor of furthering this new side series along (because that's certainly what this book felt like) and promoting Nick to Favorite Hero Evah. Even 'Armed & Dangerous,' which featured Julian Cross and Cameron, did not go to the lengths that this book did with the amount of page time the other characters got; Ty and Zane were still the main focus there, had the vast majority of the narrative, had many moments that moved the plot and their relationship along. There will be some fans that love -- or at least don't mind -- this new direction in 'C&R,' but I'm not one of them and my opinion is Nick and Kelly have their own series for a reason.

To carry this further, Nick and Kelly getting their own engagement before Ty and Zane -- in a Ty and Zane book no less -- made me furious. Had it happened earlier in the book, it quite possibly could have become a rare DNF for me, especially shocking for me for as much as I love this series. I don't begrudge them their own HEA -- I even welcome it -- but read my last sentence in the above para again. Roux did NOT have to let them start it here. And they get better dialog and sniffle-worthy set-up and everything and ....arghhhhhhh. Frankly I feel cheated -- again -- on behalf of Ty and Zane, and it all strongly feels as if the author has grown bored with our protags, that she is moving on as quickly as she can to Nick and Kelly while raking in the cash from her devoted 'C&R' fans. Not cool.

The last item I have for this point is that Roux makes a big ol' assumption that her 'C&R' series fans have read 'S&A' (or at least follow her on her Tumblr site) because if they haven't and start this one, they are going to be like "What?!? Nick and Kelly are together? When did that happen?" Confusion abound.

PLOT

While mostly entertaining, the plots have never been the reason I read this series. Because I love our heroes and I read for them, I can -- and have -- easily overlook the over-the-top, at-times questionably-believable nature of the adventures, gaping and convenient plot holes and totally screwed-up timelines. But nevertheless I usually am engaged throughout and love my time with Ty and Zane almost no matter what they are doing. I was not engaged in 'B&C' at all, however. I think part of this is because of the aforementioned issues, but also because of the plot: it seemed all over the map, never really focusing long on any aspect and felt too loose, under-developed, disjointed and rushed. Plus in my opinion, and despite of the bizarre, out-of-left-field cartel angle ending (along with bringing Liam back), it did not advance the series. It was too much, yet not enough, if that makes any sense. Much too elaborate and convoluted, yet not enough focus or depth. Moreover, there was a slapstick/'Scooby Doo'/Agatha Christie/'Clue' feel to the whole whodunit that left me confused, rolling my eyes at the silliness and never-ending obstacles...and frankly a bit bored. Who was good? Who was bad? Who was both? Who was being framed? Who was doing what for what reason? Who cares?? Long before the end I just wanted it over.

Plus, little things about the plot bothered me as well, such as the reason Livi chose her maid of honor (so dumb and unbelievable); SuperNick considered lead when both Ty and Zane are experienced FBI agents (and pushed to the side as props); only having one sat phone when there is obvious need for more considering the regular problems they have with utilities (these people are super-rich, so cost is not an issue) and then giving that one phone to a 15-month-old to play with (really?); SuperNick deciding at that point in time to deal with the issues he as with Ty -- the Ty he has known for two decades and pretty much defended to Zane in 'T&G' for being who he is -- while people are around them dying (look, they need to work things out, fine, but seriously??). There is so, so much more, but I'll stop there.

And speaking of SuperNick -- again, because this is about Nick after all -- when did he become an honorary third Grady son? And why wasn't he automatically invited to the wedding if they were that close considering there were several cousins and their offspring that we never heard of before in attendance. He is never mentioned by name before, not his importance, nothing. This new development felt totally manufactured for this book and reconned.

CHARACTERS

So...the characters. I've already mentioned my problems with how Ty and Zane's characters were glossed over, how I didn't "feel" them, how we're told but not shown that they have changed, but it goes deeper than that because I just didn't connect to them and they just felt two-dimensional at best. They are pale comparisons of themselves; in fact, there is a statement in 'B&C' where Ty muses about Zane "Rather than illuminating the warm brown of Zane's eyes, the night seemed to sap all the color from him..." Well, that's how I felt about these two, in fact I felt that way about all of the characters we've come to know.

Regarding Nick and Ty specifically, we're told that they have become darker, that they smile and joke less, yet that just doesn't seem to be the case in what we're shown. At all. In fact, it's a chucklefest of epic proportions; many of the characters spend much of their time sniggering, snickering, snorting, smirking, grinning, hiding their laughter behind hands, even at seemingly inappropriate times. My Kindle counted 42 snorts, 28 chuckles, 63 grins, 14 snickers, 100 laughs, and 26 smirks. There were several times that there was a teenage-girl-slumber-party feel to it, which seemed just plain wrong for a 'C&R' book, and which warred with the melodrama that popped up in between the guffawing.

I think another reason I wasn't engaged or connected with the characters was because there were just too many of them. I had trouble keeping track and this was made worse because many of them seemed to have little to no purpose, having been mentioned once or twice, then never having any further function. Plus, I found almost everyone one dimensional, including Deuce and Livi (at their own wedding no less and who felt pushed into the background by simply becoming caricatures of concerned parents) and the rest of the Gradys, with whom I love spending time. Except Nick, of course.

Another character who fell flat was Dick Burns; does he know about Ty and Zane's relationship (how can he not?)? Ty's work...development (again, how can he not?)? This is all big news, in many ways affecting him directly, yet nothing is said? Did it happen off-screen? And what's up with the whole frame/murder? And when did he become Most Hated Man Evah?

I also felt that most of the characters we have grown to know and love acted both out of character and inconsistently. For a few examples, Kelly is all like "gross!" when asked to take the liver temp of the first victim, then later on he is happy to be playing with said victim's intestines totally nonchalantly. Another is that despite being told vaguely what was going on in Scotland regarding a possibly dangerous situation, neither Ty nor Zane went on that trip armed -- at all. We have never seen that before (when have we ever seen Zane without his knives?) and it felt totally wrong. Earl and Dick sit passively by as the chaos reigns around them, but barely getting involved? Then there is Zane, who takes Nick's side when Nick gets pissed at Ty, not defending his lover for some reason that I don't understand if he is supposedly so okay with Ty's lies and deceptions (but again, we really don't know because they haven't talked about it on screen at all). I think the author must hate Ty, speaking of the man himself, because here he cannot do anything right and it feels like everything was his fault -- with no defense coming from either himself or others (thinking back on it, this aspect began in 'T&G' but is worse here). And when did Owen, after all of his huffing and puffing in both 'Divide & Conquer' and 'T&G' around the whole gay thing, become fine and relaxed with yet another gay couple in their small circle? Again, there are more examples, but I'm just getting angry and confused again.

EDITING AND WRITING

The writing and editing felt so...lazy: "tell" not "show" (see above), many repeated words and ideas (see above), characters without depth (see above), and a ridiculous, silly, hole-ridden plot (see above). Added to this, the tone felt so very different than the other books, especially reading the series back-to-back in order and coming off of the heavier 'T&G,' that I can't help wondering what Roux was thinking when she wrote this. It actually felt as if someone else who has a lot less experience and skill wrote 'B&C.' And did not one editor or beta say out loud "um, Abi, I don't think there's enough Ty and Zane in this book and people are going to be pissed" or does she only have betas and editors who think the sun shines out her a**...or did she just not care? I am not sure which is worse.

OVERALL

In the end, I can't help but feel that this tragic farce of a story is not how a second-to-the-last book of a series should be; not only am I not excited about the final installment, I am on the fence about getting it at all (but since I've invested myself this far, I'll probably see it through to the end, even though I'll probably regret it). I fear that since none of the big issues between Ty and Zane were addressed here, that leaves the last book to cover that ground (which I can't imagine happening) or worse, Roux will pretend none of those emotions and issues happened. What I keep coming back to is that Ty and Zane deserve better than this and I am insulted on behalf of both them and the readers. And what makes it more of a travesty for me is that I know this author can do better, so either a) she didn't care enough, b) only did it for the money she knew could pull in from her snookered fanbase, c) didn't listen to any of her betas (assuming she had them) or editor(s), d) was under some kind of self- or publisher-imposed deadline and rushed, or e) someone else wrote it. I guess in the end it doesn't really matter because they are all bad options. And honestly, if the author no longer cares about her characters or her readers, and releases a product like this, then I no longer care to support her efforts. Why should I?
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