Cut & Run: Ball & Chain

Ball & Chain

Ball & Chain

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 man 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 Abbot 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.

I just want to start this review, or possibly rant, with the following: this is entirely my opinion. And if you haven’t read Ball & Chain yet, you should steer clear. There will be spoilers.

Right, so we basically start off six months or so after the heart wrenching end of Touch & Geaux. Zane and Kelly are waiting for their boys to get home. We have an emotional reunion between Ty and Zane, and the rest of the Sidewinder guys. It’s great. Everyone skips home and everything is dandy. Life goes on, until one day Deuce phones Ty asking him to be the best man at Deuce’s wedding, which is going to be held in Scotland. Also, would Ty mind bringing one of his Recon buddies to double up as security, too? This person can even bring a date. Enter Nick and Kelly. They head on over to Scotland, and there things start to go pear shaped as they inevitably tend to when the boys embark on the dreaded V-word.

I’m not going to go into a whole lot of detail, but that’s the gist of it. When I finished this book, I was confused. I didn’t really know how to feel about it. But the more I think about it, the more let down I feel. This book, for me, was indisputably the weakest book in the series. I don’t know what the effing hell happened. I really need to vent here, so I’m just going to go ahead and spill my guts. First thing that pissed me off? The reunion sex, or rather the glaring lack thereof. I know that sounds terribly superficial, but I felt cheated. Ty and Zane haven’t seen each other for months, and there’s no reunion sex??? And then, when we did get some sexy time, it was intruded upon by Nick and Kelly shouting through the walls. I’ll talk about those two in a minute. Secondly, when the shit started to fly, it did so in such a way that I just found myself shaking my head. I know that in most of the Cut & Run books, the guys run into situations that are a little out there. And that’s totally fine. But this time went a step too far. It was just so far-fetched. And chaotic. People were running around all over the place, but it didn’t really feel like anything was really happening. Now, on to Nick and Kelly. I just want it to be known that I like Nick and Kelly. I’m really looking forward to more of their story. In their books. Honest to God, it felt like I was reading a Sidewinder novel. I mean, this is Ty and Zane’s second last book. I needed them to have more page time than they did. As someone I was talking to on Twitter pointed out, it felt like they were supporting characters in their own bloody book. The huge issues that caused so much friggin’ angst in the last book were barely touched on. I mean, Ty asked Zane to marry him, for Pete’s sake. Surely before you take that much anticipated leap, you should talk some stuff out? And get to know each other again? You haven’t seen one another for nearly half a year! Related to those NOLA issues, and I swear to God I’ll stop after this, was Nick’s beef with Ty. I didn’t get it. It felt… a little forced. I understand why Nick was upset, but there didn’t seem to be any build up to it. One minute Nick was chilled, and the next Nick was all pissy.

I’m sorry that this turned into a rant. But I just needed to get it out there. This isn’t to say that there weren’t any good points because there were. I just probably won’t remember them in the long run…

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Sidewinder: Shock & Awe

Shock & Awe

Shock & Awe

After barely surviving a shootout in New Orleans, Sidewinder medic Kelly Abbott has to suffer through a month of recovery before he can return home to Colorado. He’s not surprised when fellow Sidewinder Nick O’Flaherty stays with him in New Orleans. Nor is he surprised when Nick travels home with him to help him get back on his feet–after all, years on the same Marine Force Recon team bonded the men in ways that only bleeding for a brother can. He’s very surprised, though, when Nick humors his curiosity and kisses him.

Nick knows all of Kelly’s quirks and caprices, so the kiss was a low-risk move on his part… or so he thought. But what should have been a simple moment unleashes a flood of emotions and urges that neither man is prepared to address. 

Now, Kelly and Nick must figure out what they mean to each other–friends and brothers in arms, or something even deeper?–before the past can come back to ruin their tenuous future.

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Abigail Roux’s, so I was mega excited about Shock & Awe. Needless to say, Ms Roux did not disappoint. This novella was packed with steamy sex and some really heavy emotional scenes. This is an excellent start to the Sidewinder series.

Shock & Awe takes place just after the emotional trauma that was Touch & Geaux. Kelly is recovering from a gunshot wound that, had the bullet hit it’s target, would have killed Nick. Kelly is in fairly good spirits for a man with a bullet hole in him, but he still needs some help getting around. For a heart stopping minute, it looked like Kelly was going to have to ask his ex-wife to step in, but Nick offers to help him out instead. The guys have been through a lot together, so Nick’s offer is no big deal. While Nick and Ty were always close, Kelly and Nick are pretty tight too. They understand each other and there’s never been any weirdness between the two. Until Kelly, in a painkiller induced haze, asks Nick to kiss him. This comes as a bit of a surprise to both of them when Nick not only agrees to it, but that it turns out to be the kind of kiss that rocks their world. This opens up an avenue that neither man ever would have guessed existed. So the question is, do they go for it and possibly ruin their friendship; or do they ignore the attraction and run the risk of missing out on something amazing?

In addition to Shock & Awe, we got a teeny, tiny short story called Bait & Switch, featuring Zane. My poor baby. It just felt wrong to read anything with Zane that didn’t also directly involve Ty. It just made my heart hurt to see Zane so sad. I just wanted to get in the book and give him a hug. There was just enough angst in this short story to have me making these high pitched keening noises.

I really did enjoy this novella. Nick and Kelly were insanely hot. The chemistry between these two was absolutely explosive. I was just sitting there at one point fanning myself. I do not have enough words to adequately describe the bedroom scenes. Ms Roux has always had the ability to write some scorchers, but she pulled out all the stops for this one. And she also threw in some serious moments of heart-stopping angst. They didn’t last long, but they were enough to leave me feeling a little faint. But. But. There is one thing that niggled at me and kept me from giving Roux her usual five stars. It was Kelly. Now, this does not in any way mean that I didn’t like him, because I did. It’s just that we got to know Kelly–not very well, granted–as a straight guy. And now, suddenly, he’s decided that he likes cock. I know that this is just a novella so there wasn’t much time for soul searching and whatever, but I just think that the transition was too… easy. It just bothered me a little.

Definitely a good start to the Sidewinder series. I’m very excited to see more of the Sidewinder boys in the future. You can buy Shock & Awe over at Riptide.

Cut & Run: Touch & Geaux

Touch & Geaux

Touch & Geaux

After having their faces plastered across the news during a high-profile case, FBI Special Agents Ty Grady and Zane Garrett have become more useful to the Bureau posing for photo ops than working undercover. Just as Zane is beginning to consider retirement a viable option, Ty receives a distress call from a friend, leading them to a city rife with echoes from the past.

New Orleans wears its history on its streets, and it’s one place Ty’s face could get him killed. Surrounded by trouble as soon as they land, Ty and Zane are swiftly confronted by a past Ty can’t hide-one with a surprising connection to Zane’s.

As threats close in from all directions, both men must come to terms with the lives they’ve led and the lies they’ve told. They soon discover that not all their secrets are out yet, and nothing lasts forever.

I was on Abigail Roux’s website a long while ago, just before Touch & Geaux was released. I don’t remember what the situation was exactly, but it had come out that a fan had sent Abi a message saying that she loved the series so much she was going to stop at Stars & Stripes. Or something to that effect. And I thought, what an odd duck. As it turns out, this person was actually a smart duck. A very smart duck, indeed. I cannot remember the last time a book made me so miserable! In all fairness, we’d been warned that Touch & Geaux was going to be rough but nothing, and I mean nothing, could have prepared me for the anguish I experienced at the hands of this book.

ust a quick warning: there will be spoilers from here on out. Not little spoilers; big ones. If you haven’t gotten to Touch & Geaux yet and want to remain blissfully ignorant, you need to look away now. 

The story starts off well, with Ty and Zane still in their happy place. They’re boss is making their lives uncomfortable (he’s the boss, so why not?) but besides that the boys have nothing to worry about. And then Nick O’-fucking-Flaherty calls Ty. He tells Ty that he’s in New Orleans and that he’s been arrested for murder. Ty, being the loyal guy that he is, hops on the earliest plane, with Zane in tow, to go help his friend, even though he knows that being seen in New Orleans could spell big trouble for him. Ty and Zane arrive in New Orleans being all, “Where’s the fire?” and it turns out that it was just a hoax. It was the Sidewinder boys’ way of getting Ty to travel to New Orleans so that they could celebrate the fallen Elias Sanchez’s birthday. I’m still irrationally angry with Nick about this. Obviously, there’s no way he could have predicted what was going to happen, but still. Ty’s a little annoyed but he gets over it pretty quickly, and it looks like things are going to be fine. Ha! All that is is Abi lulling you into a false sense of security before she kicks you in the face. We get introduced to a new character, Liam Bell, who a lot of people seemed to find charming. I was not one of those people. The shit starts hitting the fan as soon as that smarmy fucker (excuse my language, but I feel strongly about this) shows up on the scene. In all fairness, it’s not entirely his fault but I found his… glee at the turmoil between Ty and Zane infuriating, to say the least.

Anyhow, things rapidly go from bad to worse, and then they get even freaking worse. Ty had to go to hospital, then his cover in New Orleans was just about blown, Liam was threatening Zane, the Miami drug cartel from Zane’s days undercover were after him, and then all these secrets-the ones Ty never wanted to tell-were being force out of him, and it was just awful.

Turns out, Ty was keeping two humongous secrets. The first secret was bad, the second one was worse and the consequences were soul destroying. No, I’m not exaggerating. This book bloody well made me cry, and I’m not a crier. I didn’t know who I felt worse for: Zane, for being lied to about so much for so long, or Ty, for being forced to watch everything he cared about start to crumble. And, all the while, Liam fucking Bell was sitting around smirking. It was just… too much. My parents were genuinely worried and then genuinely annoyed when I told them I was getting this worked up over a bloody book. And, as you can see, nearly five months after Touch & Geaux’s release, I’m still a tad upset.

And, because misery loves company, I’m going to share with you the most gut-wrenching quotes from this book.

Zane gritted his teeth and slammed his palm against the wall. “Tell me the truth or I walk!”
Ty swallowed hard, but it was obvious he was weighing whether or not he should speak.
“You really have to think about it?” Zane shoved away from Ty, unable to tear his eyes away even as the pain twisted in his heart like a knife. “I guess we finally found the one thing more important to you than I am.”
Ty’s face hardened. “You know that’s not true.”
“Fuck you, Ty! I feel like I don’t know a goddamned thing right now!” Zane jabbed his finger toward Ty. “I tell you I’m going to walk and you have to fucking think about it? Just fuck you!”

………………………….

Ty’s grip tightened and he lowered his head. He was holding onto Zane as if he’d fall if he let go. Zane recalled the last time they’d both fallen; Ty’d begged him to trust him, and then thrown him off a building. Literally. And Zane had trusted him, with his life, with his happiness, and finally with his heart.
During all that, though, Ty hadn’t trusted Zane with one simple secret. 

………………………….

“Well forgive me if I don’t believe a goddamn word you say. The only way I hear the truth from you is when someone has a gun to your fucking head. Or mine!”
“Someone did have a gun to your head!” Zane started to get up, but Ty reached out to grab him. He didn’t dare let him turn away, afraid Zane wouldn’t ever turn back again. “After everything we’ve been through, why the hell can’t you believe me?”
“Because you lie.”

………………………….

“Grady, come back,” Zane said quietly.
Ty tore his eyes away from the shimmer and met Zane’s gaze.
“That stuff must have a hell of a punch.”
“Easy to get lost in,” Ty murmured.
“Yes,” Zane said under his breath. His facade cracked, and suddenly he looked devastated. Like he’d given up. “You are.”

………………………….

“I’m sorry, Zane,” he gasped, trying to hold on tight.
Zane pressed his face into Ty’s neck, fighting back a sob. His entire body was trembling.
Ty dug his fingers into Zane’s back, holding him close. He put his lips to Zane’s ear. “I’m so sorry.”
Zane’s shoulders tightened under Ty’s hands. “I would have chosen you over anything,” Zane hissed. He pulled back, breaking Ty’s hold, bunched the front of Ty’s shirt in both hands, and jerked Ty forward until they were nose-to-nose, until Ty’s feet weren’t solidly on the floor. “My job, my family, my
 wife. I would have given my life for you! But you! You can’t even give me the truth!”

………………………….  

I’m done. If anybody needs me, I’m that chick huddled in the corner in a fetal position, crying.

Cut & Run: Armed & Dangerous

Armed & Dangerous

Armed & Dangerous

Left alone in Baltimore after his unpredictable lover bails, Special Agent Zane Garrett takes his frustration out on everything in his path until he is ordered to Chicago to backup an undercover operative. When he gets there, though, he finds himself face to face with his wayward partner, Special Agent Ty Grady. They have to deal with the uncertainly lingering between them while they work to retrieve their intended mark, a retired hit man and a CIA wet-works operative named Julian Cross.

Ty, once a Marine and now an FBI hotshot, has a penchant for being unpredictable, a trait Zane can vouch for. Zane is a man who once lived for his job but has come to realize his heartbreaking past doesn’t have to overshadow his future. They’re partners, friends, lovers, and the go-to team for unusual cases. With Cross and his innocuous boyfriend, Cameron Jacobs, in tow, Ty and Zane must navigate the obstacles of a cross-country trek, including TSA pat-downs, blizzards, their uncooperative prisoners. CIA kill teams, a desperate lack of sleep and caffeine, and each other. Ty and Zane are determined to get Julian Cross to DC in one piece, but it’s starting to look like the last thing they do. 

I was so very extremely glad that by the time I discovered the Cut & Run series, Armed & Dangerous was already out. Because the way Divide & Conquer ended damn near sent me into a panic. To those of you who followed the series earlier on and had to wait for Armed & Dangerous, I have the utmost respect for you. I would have had a breakdown. I mean, seriously, how can you end a book like this?

I’m sorry. Walls are closing in and I need to go.
Love you.

Really? I ran-and let me tell you, there isn’t much that will inspire me to run- to the computer so I could download this book. And it was so totally worth it. I know some people may be a little worried to see that Roux was writing this one on her own but, in all honesty, I couldn’t really tell. The series carries on in pretty much the same way as it has in the previous four books.

Armed & Dangerous picks up right where Divide & Conquer ended. Zane has just found Ty’s note and we’re all just sitting there like, “Noooooooooooooo!” Thankfully, Ty calls and clarifies that this isn’t a note to say things are over. Cue the sighs of relief. Despite the huge weight off of Zane’s chest he’s still pretty pissed, and he continues to be pissed in days after finding Ty’s note and hearing his explanation. Until he gets a phone call from FBI top boss, Richard Burns, telling him that he’s needed in Chicago to provide backup for an unknown undercover agent. Turns out… that agent is none other than the flighty, irresistible Ty Grady. Kinda saw that coming, but whatever. Their mission? To find a former CIA hit man and deliver him to the FBI’s DC headquarters. Cross apparently has some information that can put some very high ranking CIA officials in jail for using agency assets to carry out private hits. Seems like a simple enough assignment except… Julian Cross has no intention of going anywhere near that particular shit storm and wants the FBI and CIA to leave him the hell alone. Ty and Zane’s job is made even more difficult when they’re forced to drag Julian’s clueless boyfriend, Cameron Jacobs, along. The trip from Chicago back to DC can only be described as harrowing. From Julian and Cameron’s repeated attempts at escape to unfortunate encounters with the TSA, from running away from CIA agents determined to keep Cross out of DC to having to contend with spectacularly shitty weather, Ty and Zane must have been beginning to suspect that God hates them, And then, there are the issues between them. Granted, Zane finally pulled his head out of his ass and admitted to Ty that he loved him, but now they’re on a case where they can’t really explore what that means. They’ve gotten pretty good at hiding their relationship from the world, but now it’s starting to wear on them.

Julian and Cameron are characters from an earlier book by Roux and Urban called Warrior’s Cross and, to be honest, I haven’t read it yet. It’s sitting in my Kindle and I just haven’t gotten there. But I mostly enjoyed their characters, although maybe I would have connected with them more had I read their book. I found Cameron a little… preachy, but I really liked Julian. As for Ty and Zane? Well, they pretty much broke my heart which is par for the course for this series. Their reunion after Ty left was just so sweet. And how, after keeping their emotions all bottled up for the past few weeks, they can finally admit that they love each other without worrying that the other’s head will explode. Every time they did, I just sort of broke out in this big happy smile.

Here are a few of my favourite bits and pieces:

“What the hell does Burns want now? You’re supposed to be on wellness leave.”
Ty didn’t answer for a long time, long enough that Zane checked the display on his phone to make sure the call was still connected. Then he heard Ty huff. “God, I love it when you’re cranky like this. Promise to still be pissed when I get home, okay?”
“I don’t think that’s going to be a problem.”
                                                                                               ………………

“Ty,” Zane said between kisses, his hands firm on Ty’s body. “Be mine, just for now. There’s time.”
Ty reached for Zane’s face, meeting his eyes. “I was always yours,” he said with difficulty.
Zane pressed his fingertips to Ty’s lips. “Why?”
Ty shook his head, searching for the answer. His chest tightened and breathing became difficult, but he landed on the words he needed. He met Zane’s dark eyes and realized he was feeling light-headed as he answered. “Because… you make me the kind of person I’ve always wished I was.”
Zane was silent, his gaze tracing over Ty’s face. Ty held his breath until Zane spoke. “I’ve always wanted you just like you are. As much as you infuriate me, you’re who I want.”
………………. 

“I thought you were going to kill him back there.”
Ty turned to face him. “Next time I will,” he said, his voice cold and determined.
A shiver ran down Zane’s spine, and he had to admit, a part of him liked it. “What is it about him that gets you so riled?”
“It’s not him, Zane. It’s you.”
“Me? What’d I do?”
“He is a threat to both of us. You’ve seen what he’s capable of, and I have to tell you, I don’t think he’s trying yet. I think he’s just a fucking raptor testing the fences. When I look at him, I see him hurting you.”
……………….

Actually, I’m going to stop right here or I’ll end up quoting the whole damn book. In short, Armed & Dangerous was amazing. Pretty much like the rest of the series and I don’t foresee that changing any time soon…

Cut & Run: Divide & Conquer

Divide & Conquer

Divide & Conquer

Baltimore, Maryland, is a city in alarming distress. Rising violence is fanning the flames of public outrage, and all law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, are catching blame. Thus the FBI’s latest ideas to improve public relations: a municipal softball league and workshops for community leaders. But the new commitments mean more time Special Agents Ty Grady and Zane Garrett have to spend apart when they’re happily exploring how to be more than by-the-book partners.

Then the latest spate of crime explodes in their faces-literally-throwing the city, the Bureau, and Ty and Zane’s volatile partnership both in and out of the office into chaos. They’re hip-deep in trouble, trying to track down bombers and bank robbers in the dark with very few clues, and the only way to reach the light at the end of the tunnel together requires Ty and Zane to close their eyes and trust each other to the fiery end.

If there was ever, God forbid, a fire in my house I do believe that off all the books on my shelf, I’d save the Cut & Run series first. I have become so emotionally attached to Ty and Zane that it’s not even funny. They’re not just fictional characters any more; they’re actual people. But before my imminent trip to the loony bin, let me tell you about this installment in what has become my most favouritist series ever.

Ty and Zane are in a pretty good place right now. Despite Ty dropping the L-Bomb, there’s been minimal awkwardness and their relationship has reached the stage where they’re comfortable with each other. But this being Ty and Zane, this happy phase in their lives can’t last. True to form, something goes horribly wrong; in this case a spate of bombings and bank robberies.  Law enforcement is being accused of not doing enough to keep the city safe, and the subsequent PR nightmare is giving the authorities grey hair. Ty and Zane find themselves in the middle of the chaos when there’s a bomb scare at the local aquarium. Instead of the romantic evening in the boys had planned, they find themselves  responding to the call. After arriving in a fairly dramatic fashion, Ty and Zane become the centre of the media’s attention. Needless to say, this is the last thing Ty and Zane want or need. They just want to be able to do their jobs and be together. Alas, the fates (aka Roux and Urban) seem to take some sadistic pleasure in making the boys’ lives difficult. Becoming the media’s darlings has meant added responsibilities for both Ty and Zane, which also means less time for them to be together. Then things get worse. So much worse. The ringleader of the bombers/bank robbers becomes fixated with Ty, making him a target. While dealing with yet another bomb, Zane gets caught in an exploding building and subsequently loses his vision. Then, and then, as if all this weren’t bad enough, Team Sidewinder shows up for a visit.

I loved this book so much. There were so many ups and downs and tugs at your heartstrings and kicks in the stomach and fires lit in your pants… there was just so much. I love how Ty and Zane’s relationship keeps on developing. They’ve yet to reach a point where I felt that things were dragging or that their relationship is stagnant. But, even though I love Zane, I did want to kick him. Hard. The issues Zane had with telling Ty that he loves him frustrated me. I know this hesitancy was true to Zane’s character and his tendency to overanalyse things is a part of who Zane is. But it still annoyed me. Another thing that totally got my goat was Nick O’Flaherty. I forgave him for it-eventually-but at the time I was furious. There was much shouting and swearing on my part, fueling my family’s insistence that I need to get out more.

In all, this book was pretty much just like the previous three: it was funny, heart wrenching, hot as hell, action-packed, and just plain awesome. And now I will share some more awesomeness with you.

Zane let the momentary annoyance fade into the background. They could bitch about work later. “Sure you still want dessert before dinner?”
“You’re not dessert, Zane. You’re the main course,” Ty informed him in a husky drawl. And you have about five seconds to take your pick of flat surface before I do it for you.”
………………..

Ty reached out and patted Zane’s knee, letting his hand rest there as he finally forced himself to look up and meet Zane’s eyes. “Thank you for believing me today,” he said roughly. “No one else did.”
“I trust you,” Zane said simply.

This is one of my favourite scenes in this book. It involves a slighly jealous, possessive Ty. Makes the knees a little weak.

Zane’s gut clenched; hearing and feeling Ty this worked up was a hell of a turn-on. And the fact that it was because Ty was feeling possessive…Zane’s head spun with delight, and he tried to give as good as he got. Ty pulled back from him just long enough to shuck his suit jacket and yank his shirt and undershirt over his head. Zane could feel the bare skin under his fingertips, soft and warm, shifting over muscles he could trace with his eyes closed. Then Ty was on him again, hands all over him as he tugged and yanked at Zane’s clothing, biting at his lips and his chin and his neck, sucking on his earlobe and growling, “You’re mine. Jersey Shore can get his own.” 

Cut & Run: Fish & Chips

Fish & Chips

Fish & Chips

Special Agents Ty Grady and Zane Garrett are back on the job, settled into a personal and professional relationship built on fierce protectiveness and blistering passion. Now they’re assigned to impersonate two members of an international smuggling ring-an out-and-proud married couple-on a Christmas cruise in the Caribbean. As their boss says, surely they’d rather kiss each other than be shot at, and he has no idea how right he is.

Portraying the wealthy criminals requires a particular change in attitude from Ty and Zane while dealing with the frustrating waiting game that is their assignment. As it begins to affect how they treat each other in private, they realize there’s more to being partners than watching each other’s backs, and when the case takes an unexpected turn and threatens Ty’s life, he and Zane will have to navigate seas of white lies and stormy secrets, including some of their own.

Ty and Zane have become it for me. The couple I will compare all other couples to in terms of what emotions they’re able to wring out of you. I cannot remember the last time I read a series where I had so many feelings. I’m not the type to just cry at the drop of a hat, but Roux and Urban have had me on the brink a dozen times throughout the series, with seemingly little effort.

At the start of Fish & Chips, Ty and Zane are in a relatively stable place in their relationship. They’re back on the field and they’re only struck with the urge to strangle one another every once in a while. Things are going pretty well. Sure, Ty is trying his best not to reveal how deep his feelings for his partner go, but beyond that everything’s just peachy. And then they get their next assignment: to impersonate happily married couple Del and Corbin Porter. I know some people found this bit of the story line to be a little on the cheesy side, but I honestly didn’t mind. I liked that Ty and Zane were given an opportunity to act like a couple-a real couple-without fear of the consequences or what other people would think. Anyway, Ty and Zane reluctantly accept the assignment and realise that along with some cosmetic changes, they’re each going to have to undergo a little bit of a personality transplant. Del, the man Ty will be impersonating, is a little on the submissive side while Corbin is an aggressive creep. When I first read this, I wasn’t convinced. Ty the submissive? Not going to happen. But not only did it happen, Ty’s submissive act was explosively hot.

This case has an affect on more than just Ty and Zane’s sex life. It changes how they treat each other. Slowly but surely, they’re getting more comfortable with the little things that before now they had avoided. Casual touching, being able to watch each other without it being thought of as weird, holding hands in public… All the things most couples would take for granted. In addition to the physical aspects, Ty and Zane also begin opening up to one another a little bit more. I think that aspect of it was my favourite part of this book. In Cut & Run and Sticks & Stones, Ty and Zane have proved that they are utterly at ease with the physical aspect of their relationship; it’s the emotional side that they struggle with. In Fish & Chips you see them taking little baby steps towards being honest with each other about how they feel.

This is my favourite scene from Fish & Chips. Every time I read it, I die a little.

He licked his lips as his thumb grazed the ring. “I love you” was not something he had ever really planned on telling Zane, especially in a situation when neither of them could hide from the other. But it had come out so naturally up there on that railing he hadn’t been able to stop himself. Now, he could either lie right to Zane’s face and let Zane believe it had been a mere ploy to get him to jump, or he could tell him the truth. Again.

Ty was tired of hiding it.

“I have a problem, Zane,” he admitted, sounding slightly surprised that he was saying it out loud, especially now, when everything seemed to be going well for their odd relationship.

Zane raised on brow. “Besides sitting soaking wet in a jail cell in the middle of the Caribbean?”

“I have to say, it’s not a first for me,” Ty muttered. He smiled and looked up at the ceiling. almost talking himself out of saying it. He waited a moment to make sure he really wanted to say it, and when he spoke he had finally dropped the fake accent. “No, this is a different kind of problem.”

Despite the expressed surprise from a moment ago, this time Zane’s voice was more serious, with a shade of audible concern. “What is it?”

Ty bit the inside of his lip as he looked down at his hands and turned them over. They had begun to shake slightly. He could feel the nerves coursing through his body. If he told Zane, nothing would be the same. Their entire partnership would change, for better or for worse. And he knew he would get nothing out of it except the relief of coming clean.

Falling in love or just plain falling: they were both terrifying at any speed. 

He sighed heavily and lifted his chin stubbornly, meeting Zane’s eyes without flinching. “I didn’t say it just to get you to jump. I’m in love with you, Zane,” he admitted in a calm, clear voice. “I have been for a while.”

God, these two idiots just hurt my heart. Every. Single. Time.

Cut & Run: Sticks & Stones

Sticks & Stones

Sticks & Stones

Six months after nearly losing their lives to a serial killer in New York City, FBI Special Agents Ty Grady and Zane Garrett are suffering through something almost as frightening: the monotony of desk duty. When they’re ordered to take a vacation for the good of everyone’s sanity, Ty bites the bullet and takes Zane home with him to West Virginia, hoping the peace and quiet of the mountains will give them the chance to explore the explosive attraction they’ve so far been unable to reconcile with their professional partnership.

Ty and Zane, along with Ty’s father and brother, head up into the Appalachian mountains for a nice, relaxing hike deep into the woods… where no one will hear them scream. They find themselves facing danger from all directions: unpredictable weather, the unrelenting mountains, wild animals, fellow hikers with nothing to lose, and the most terrifying challenge of all. Each other.

Every time I talk about this series, I will say the same thing: I love, Love, LOVE Ty and Zane. They are just it in terms of what you want in a character. They’re real in a way that is sometimes missing from lead characters. These guys are far from perfect and that makes them easy to relate to. They niggle with each other over stupid shit; they’re not always as honest as they should be; and they have a shit load of personal issues to wade through. And lets not even talk about the idea of commitment. Even the faintest whiff of the C-word is enough to send these boys running in opposite directions. And yet, despite all this, they just work. 

In this installment of the series, Ty and Zane are drifting a little bit. They’re stuck doing desk work and if you know Ty at all, you’ll know that doing nothing is the fastest way to drive Ty bonkers. Zane has been struggling to put the events of New York behind him, but it isn’t working too well. Ty’s getting frustrated with being stuck doing paperwork and Zane’s inability to live in the moment. He also has no idea how to help Zane deal, and it’s starting to put strain on their relationship, both personal and professional. Things are really starting to wear on them, until Richard Burns, their boss, gives them strict instructions to take some time off and return to work with their heads out of their asses. Ty plans on going home to see his family, but Zane finds himself at a bit of a loose end. What the hell is he going to do for three weeks? Ty knows his partner is just going to end up sitting around, moping. So, he invites Zane to come home with his to West Virginia. This is where the fun and games start.

In Sticks & Stones, we meet Ty’s family. What an awesome, odd lot they were. Ty and his brother Deuce are thick as thieves, and Deuce knows that Ty and Zane are… involved. Mara, Ty’s mother, is awesome. Seriously, I decided that I loved that woman the minute she gave Zane a hug upon their first meeting, treating him like he was one of her boys. Then we have Chester Grady, Ty’s grandfather. This crazy old coot carries a shovel with him wherever he goes and uses it to kill the hosepipe (his eyesight isn’t too good; he thinks they’re snakes). My least favourite member of Ty’s family is Earl Grady, Ty’s dad. I didn’t mind Earl in the beginning, but then he said something completely and utterly unforgivable to Ty which made me want to smack him in the mouth. He felt really awful afterward (as he should), but it was too late. The words were said, the damage is done and Earl will be on my shit list forever. The only good thing that came out of Earl acting like a prick was Zane’s reaction. Man, I thought Zane was going to rip his head off.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. A day or two after Ty gets home, the boys decided to go on a nice relaxing hike. Again, if you know Ty and Zane, you will know that the day things go according to plan… you know what, things will never go according to plan. They stumble across some nutty treasure hunters who have no problem killing anyone who may threaten their “investments”. Things quickly escalate and Ty and Zane’s “relaxing” holiday quickly turns into a trip from hell. Between the crazies trying to kill them, Earl being a douche, and wondering around in the freaking woods, Ty and Zane are bordering on a mental break down. And just when you think things cannot possibly get worse-BOOM!-things go further downhill. 

I loved pretty much everything about Sticks & Stones, but what I especially loved was the perspectives from Ty’s family, particularly Deuce’s point of view. Deuce is the only member of Ty’s family who knows that Ty and Zane are more than just partners. Deuce is also a psychiatrist, and he finds himself fascinated by Ty and Zane’s tumultuous relationship. While we see how Ty and Zane’s feelings for one another are changing and developing, having an outsider’s perspective was refreshing. Sticks & Stones also started introducing some serious emotional angst. Not to the point where you’re writhing in agony, but where you’re heart kinda hurts a little bit. Most of those moments were from Ty’s perspective, and I just found myself getting a little choked up. This big, tough idiot has this gentle heart and, God, I just wanted to reach into the book to give him a hug.

Here are a few examples of the emotional trauma inflicted on the reader by Ms Roux and Ms Urban:

Exhibit A: Deuce asks Ty if he’s in love with Zane.
“I don’t know,” Ty said. “I don’t know if I love him or not. I think… I think I could if he let me,” he said, admitting more to Deuce than he’d even been willing to admit to himself.

Exhibit B: Ty gets attacked by a bloody mountain lion.
“You’re okay,” Zane said quietly but clearly. “Just focus on me for a few minutes. What’s the first thing that comes to mind?” While talking, he was gently wiping away the blood.
Ty blinked at him, opening his mouth as he thought the very first thing that came to mind when Zane prompted him. I love you. He snapped his mouth closed and stared at Zane, unable and unwilling to answer.

Exhibit C: Zane is checking Ty’s wounds.
At least he now knew the truth about himself and Zane. Looking raptly into Zane’s dark eyes, Ty wondered why he hadn’t realized he loved the man earlier.
“How bad is it? Really,” Zane asked, looking up to meet Ty’s eyes.
Ty swallowed hard. “Hurts worse than I thought it would,” he answered in a barely audible voice. Whether he was talking about his hand or something more, he really couldn’t have said.

Exhibit D: Zane and the Grady’s have made it off the mountain more or less intact. Ty and Zane are having a quiet moment.
What he was afraid of, he’d come to realize, was not of dark spaces or falling from great heights or being buried alive. His greatest fears, in the end, were letting down those he loved and saying the words “I love you” without any hope of hearing them in return.
He knew, deep down somewhere, that if he fell for Zane Garrett, he’d be falling alone.

Sherlock FeelingsGod in heaven, didn’t that last bit break your heart a little? In conclusion, Sticks & Stones was even better than Cut & Run, if you’ll believe it. And for this series, it’s pretty much a continuing pattern. Each book is better than the last.

The Gravedigger’s Brawl

The Gravedigger's Brawl

The Gravedigger’s Brawl

Dr Wyatt Case is never happier than when he’s walking the halls of his history museum. Playing wingman for his best friend at Gravedigger’s Tavern throws him way out of his comfort zone, but not as much as the eccentric man behind the bar, Ash Lucroix.

Ash is everything Wyatt doesn’t understand: exuberant, quirky, and elbow deep in a gaslight lifestyle that weaves history into everyday life. He coordinates his suspenders with his tongue rings. Within hours, Wyatt and Ash are hooked.

But strange things are afoot at Gravedigger’s and after a knock to the head, Ash starts seeing things that can’t be explained by old appliances or faulty wiring. Soon everyone at Gravedigger’s is wondering if they’re seeing ghosts, or just going crazy. The answer to that question could end more than just Wyatt and Ash’s fragile relationship-it might also end their lives.

Let me just start off by saying that I absolutely adore Abigail Roux. At this point she is my favourite author, hands down, no questions asked. The Gravedigger’s Brawl went with the whole opposites attract thing which I love, and I thought that Abi handled this beautifully. What also appealed to me is that Wyatt is a museum curator, something that I’m currently studying to be, so that was a bonus.

First, let me state that I loved, loved, loved Ash and Wyatt together. They were such an odd couple, and yet they were so utterly adorable that they pulled at your heartstrings. Dr Wyatt Case is… well, he’s a little bit of a square. He has the bumbling professor thing down pat, and he loves nothing more than to be safely tucked away in his museum. He’s not what you would call out going and his “people skills” are “rusty” (forgive the Supernatural reference; I couldn’t resist).  Ash is the complete opposite.. He’s a bartender at the Gravedigger’s Tavern, and loves being the centre of attention. He’s confident and sassy, and utterly charmed by Wyatt’s quiet demeanor At first glance, these two polar opposites would have zero chance of getting past the infatuation stage, and would have even less chance of making a relationship work in the long term. But despite their differences, there’s something there. Ash finds Wyatt’s absent-minded scholar vibe endearing. He likes that Wyatt is kinda clueless and shy. Wyatt is completely intrigued by Ash’s quirky personality and mischievous smile. These two are pretty much smitten at first sight, and things are going swimmingly. The chemistry between these two is so intense, Ash takes Wyatt home that very night and they have some scorching hot sex; if it weren’t so effing cold right now I’d have been inclined to take a cold shower. Everything is right, everything is perfect… until Wyatt lets insecurity dictate his actions.

While I really wanted to boot Wyatt in the ass for being such a moron, I still felt so sorry for him. Ash’s feelings were pretty hurt, and he wasn’t just going to let Wyatt and his shitty behaviour off the hook. Well done, Ash. Three cheers for self-respect! But after much grovelling, Ash decides to forgive Wyatt and things start to get better. Except for one thing… strange stuff keeps happening with the lights and appliances. These occurrences all have logical explanations but Ash is still uneasy. He does his best to shrug off the weirdness and focus on his budding relationship with Wyatt. But, after a nasty conk on the head, things get hairy and Ash starts freaking out. He’s hearing noises the others don’t, and seeing things that can’t be explained. This starts putting strain on things between him and Wyatt.

I didn’t particularly like the whole ghost theme, but that’s mostly because ghost squee me out. So while I imagine that the ghost aspect wasn’t particularly creepy, it still gave me a slight case of the heeby-jeebies. But beyond that, I loved every single thing about this story. Wyatt and Ash were brilliant. Wyatt was this adorable fuddy-duddy and Ash really cute guy with a rather eccentric taste in… well, everything. I decided that Wyatt was awesome the minute after we first met him. The man had crawled under his own desk to hide away from the museum’s board of directors. The mental image alone should have you laughing. Ash cemented himself as a favourite when it was revealed that he coordinates his tongue rings with his outfits. Talk about fashion forward. While Ash and Wyatt pretty much stole the show, the secondary characters were pretty awesome too.  Honourable mention also goes to Noah and Caleb. Those two came pretty close to unseating Ash and Wyatt from their position of cutest couple ever.

I highly recommend giving this book a try. It was just such a sweet story with minimal angst which, if you’re familiar with Abi’s other books you’ll know, is something of a rarity. Usually she just stabs you in the feels and laughs as you bleed. So enjoy the straight up HEA when the Evil Overlord sees fit to give it to you.

Also, as a sort of PS: if you haven’t already heard, you can order Shock & Awe from Riptide over here. As well as getting what will undoubtedly be an A-MA-ZING story, you will also be contributing to a good cause. Half of the profits made from the first month of sales will donated to One Fund Boston.

Holy Wow Wednesday: Shock and Awe

I’ve decided that here on CrackedSpineTingling, Wednesdays will be dedicated to the hot stuff, the things that cause heavy breathing and an elevated heart rate. I think Wednesdays are good for this kind of thing. I mean, it’s the middle of the week and the weekend is so near, and yet so far. So Holy Wow Wednesdays will be my way of perking you up if you’re suffering from the midweek blues.

Wednesdays will feature all things sexy, whether it’s an excerpt from a book, a video clip, or a picture. Just a warning: some of these things may be a little on the explicit side. If you’re easily offended or it isn’t your thing, just give these posts a miss. Things will resume as normal tomorrow.

Now… on to the good stuff 😀

Today’s Holy Wow comes from the amazing, diabolical, evil genius that is Abigail Roux. For those of you who haven’t heard of Ms Roux, don’t worry. Mony’s here to help. She is the author of the phenomenal Cut and Run series, following the trials and tribulations of the two sexiest FBI agents you will ever come across. If you haven’t read this series yet, what the heck are you waiting for?!?! It is without a shadow of a doubt my favourite series EVER.

Now, I’m sure some of you were aware that the DABWAHA awards were held last month. And I’m sure some of you also are aware that Abi won. She made DABWAHA history since a M/M book had never won the competition before. So to reward her faithful (if somewhat rabid) fans, she wrote a scene between Kelly and Nick, two of Ty’s recon buddies. Happily, it looks like these two hotties will be getting their own novella. I’m not sure if Abi has anything else planned for them (holding thumbs that she does), but from what I hear the novella is a definite. I’m sure some of you have already read it, but I just can’t resist posting this scene. It’s quite long, so I’m just going to put my favourite bit in. If this little snippet doesn’t make you check to feel if your eyebrows are singed, I don’t know what will. It is sizzling. Enjoy!

“You’re thinking way too much,” Nick snarled. He grabbed Kelly’s hands and slammed both into the mattress, holding him by his wrists. He thrust his hips, sliding his leaking cock along Kelly’s. “What you should be thinking about is wrapping your legs around me,” he said against Kelly’s lips before kissing him. He licked at his teeth and then sucked on his tongue, thrusting against him.

Kelly groaned, and almost without seeming to think about it, he pulled both knees up and slid his feet over Nick’s thighs.

Nick continued to rut against him, pressing down hard, cocks sliding, balls pressing together. It would be so easy in this position to just put the head of his cock against Kelly’s ass and shove himself in. That was good to know for next time.

“Now you should be thinking about me fucking you,” he hissed. “Because I sure as hell am.”

“Oh, God,” Kelly breathed.

 “No, you don’t say his name when I fuck you. You say mine.”

 Kelly responded with an inarticulate gasp.

Nick shoved his hips against Kelly’s hard, their cocks both leaking, gliding against hard, sweaty muscles. He put his lips against Kelly’s ear. “Are you thinking about me inside you?”

Kelly grunted and shuddered. “Fuck yes.”

“That’s all you should be thinking, you understand?”

Aaaannnnd… that’s where I stop. If you want to read the beginning and the… ahem, climax, you need to head on over to Abi’s site here.

Have an awesome day everybody!