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Monday, March 24, 2014

REVIEW: "Ball & Chain" by Abigail Roux


Ball & Chain (Cut & Run, #8)
Ball & Chain by Abigail Roux
For Ages 18+
Male/Male Romance -- Contemporary

Riptide Publishing -- March 17, 2014
Ebook, 306 pages
Purchased from Amazon

THEMES
Murder Mystery, Secondary Romance

SUMMARY
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.



FIRST LINE
"Kelly stood at Zane's side behind a barrier at the bus depot of Camp Lejeune."

MY THOUGHTS
Warning!  This review will contain minor spoilers for earlier books in the Cut & Run series as well as the first book in the Sidewinder series.

The last time we saw m/m power couple, Ty and Zane, they were dealing with the backlash from their trip to New Orleans and the fact that they were going to be separated by Ty's surprise deployment.  Ball & Chain takes place after the guys return and are trying to acclimate to normal life again.  Ty's brother, Deuce, is getting married on a small island off the coast of Scotland with Ty, Zane, Nick, and Kelly coming along to provide family support and security.  Things take a turn for the worst when bodies start piling up and it is up to the Sidewinders and Zane to figure out the truth.

I love Ty and Zane so I am pretty much destined to enjoy every book that they are in, but I thought it was one of the weakest of the series, coming in a close second to Sticks & Stones.  The plot kept my attention through the beginning and the middle.  For me, the wheels started to come off as the body count rose and the wedding guests just started taking it as a given.  I understand shock, but I like to think I'd be freaking out a bit more than these people.  Also, while the whole story line eventually turned out to have an interesting connection to Zane's past, it seemed too convoluted and the "big reveal" felt melodramatic.  All that being said, it was interesting to how the guys work together and how the stress of the situation effected their already fragile psyches especially with Nick and Ty.

While Ty and Zane were still the main focus of the book, Abigail Roux also continues telling the story of Ty's best friend, Nick, and his doctor lover, Kelly.  They are prominent side characters throughout the Cut & Run series and took center stage in the first book in a spin-off series, Shock & Awe.  I really like Nick and Kelly and how different their relationship is from Ty and Zane.  I just wish Roux had spent more time on the main couple rather than this side couple that is part of their own series.

But, Ball & Chain is, first and foremost, a Ty and Zane book and it was a joy to read.  I love the place that these two are in right now with their relationship out in the open  with their families and their colleagues.  The comfort level is refreshing especially after so many books where one or the other had trust issues and internal drama.  My favorite parts were the scenes where Ty was trying to propose to Zane.  I have to admire his determination and his creativity.  That ending made me sigh with happiness and just hug both of them!

I know I sound really picky when mentioning the issues I had with this book, but I think that is because I have such high expectations for the series.  Ty and Zane are very close to my heart so I want to love every book they are involved in.  So it is slightly disappointing to me when my expectations aren't met though I am definitely not giving up on this series.  The ending seems to indicate that Ty and Zane are very close to their permanent HEA so I'm hoping they go out with a bang!


3.5 STARS

STEAM LEVEL
Fever -- Definitely graphic, but still emotional descriptions.

FAVORITE QUOTE
Zane hurried to catch up. “Wait, Ty, you want to do that with her with us?"
“She’s a year old. She won’t understand death and destruction for at least another year.”
“If we ever decide to adopt, you’re a mute in any interviews.”
“Understood."

BOOKS IN THE SERIES
Cut & Run series
1. Cut & Run
2. Sticks & Stones
3. Fish & Chips
4. Divide & Conquer
5. Armed & Dangerous
6. Stars & Stripes
7. Touch & Geaux
8. Ball & Chain

Sidewinder series
1. Shock & Awe
2. Cross & Crown (Coming June 2014)

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