Title ~ Ball & Chain (Cut & Run #8)
Author ~ Abigail Roux
Publisher ~ Riptide Publishing
Genre ~ M/M Romance
Published ~ 17th March 2014
Rating ~ 3 Stars
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.
Reviewed by Mark, Tina & Macky
Mark: The boys are back girls - YEAH! We also get Nick and Kelly thrown in too, so two for the price of one! I've waited so long for this book after watching Ty going out the door to another undercover black ops with the Sidewinder team at the end of the last book almost broke my heart. But they're back and what a homecoming. I love these scenes of waiting for loved ones to return. Being ex-military I can so relate to the joy of being reunited with loved ones after being away for so long. It was great to see them all back safe and sound. And Ty has grown a beard! OK, the jury is out on that one for me at the moment. But I guess beards can look great if you have the right face, but in my personal image of Ty, not really sure. He has come back suffering from PTSD and is apparently a changed man, although I didn't really feel he was that changed, but I expected him to be a lot more broken than he was all things considered. However, what I did like was the fact that this time Abi takes her boys over to Scotland. A remote Scottish island to be more exact due to Ty and Zane being invited to his brother's wedding. So a completely new backdrop for our guys, taking them away from their familiar stomping grounds. This really appealed to me. But Deuce is expecting trouble and asks Ty to bring back up which he does with Nick and Kelly. So the scene is set for another romping M/M action-thriller Abi Roux style. Are you glad the boys are back Tina?
Tina: Yeah Mark, Ty and Zane are back! Ball & Chain is the penultimate book of the series and I was so excited to finally get to read how our guys are doing after all what they have been through in this book. Touch & Geaux was so emotionally charged it gave me sleepless nights and had me gasping. Considering the ending I couldn’t wait for the next book.
I agree Mark, the reunion scene at the dock was beautifully done, yes, but what we got after that I feel was rather disappointing. They were separated for six months and when Ty finally returns home they don’t get an intimate reunion scene or even talk about Ty’s retirement and about future plans? I was looking forward to those conversations and they simply didn’t happen. I craved this part from the ending of Touch & Geaux and it was kind of swept under the carpet.
After the amazing conversations they’ve had over the course of the series the lack of those made this book feel just a little hollow to me. How did Zane and Ty feel during those six months apart? What happened in those six months with Ty that he came back as a different person? I expected Ty to be more withdrawn considering he’d obviously been through something very traumatic on the last deployment. But did he really act that way? Not really. Somehow this part of the book was lacking any emotionally connection.
Macky: Yes guys, I also wanted to know more about what had happened in the six months they'd been away from each other. I thought there'd be a lot more soul searching and exploration of what had happened to Ty and how being away from each other for so long would take its toll on their relationship. Then there's Ty's PTSD? Obviously something traumatic occurred whilst they were all away but that in itself wasn't really addressed either. We're told Ty has come back a different person, but honestly? I didn't get that impression from him at all.
Mark: I know Macky, he didn’t give me the impression he was very traumatised at all and I was also dying to at least get a glimpse of what he’d been up to that had changed him so much. Anyway, I love Nick and Kelly too. It was great to read about them and the story with Nick’s father was seriously heart wrenching, what a b******! We now have the gayest Marine Recon team in history, and why not? – lol! These guys are obviously a close knit team and it was a joy watching them work together. However, I felt that considering it was a Ty and Zane book they had been sold out a little to Nick and Kelly. I seemed to get the impression that Nick and Kelly were always there first and Ty and Zane bringing up the rear (no pun intended – lol!), which considering it was supposed to be their book got the feeling that Nick and Kelly as much as I love them were constantly stealing their thunder.
Tina: I really love Kelly and Nick too Mark, but making them the main characters felt somewhat out of place. The new Sidewinder follow up is coming out in June, so why bring up so much Sidewinder stuff into Zane and Ty’s series? I just don't get it...Ty and Zane are on their path to their final book and then every major plot twist or break in the mystery comes from Nick and Kelly? Are they now the shinier, newer couple? Nick’s history with his dad touched me deeply… but again… what has this to do with Ty & Zane?
Macky: Have to agree with you both here. Nick seemed to take centre stage whilst Zane appeared to fade into the background at times. I have a soft spot for recurring characters making an appearance and I love Nick and Kelly as a couple but this did seem to have a lot of stuff that should have been dealt with in the next sidewinder novel and not in this book!
Mark: So effectively we had a Nick, Ty, Kelly and Zane book and possibly in that order too. However, I did love the fact that we do see them working altogether though. I really liked Nick always saying, “I’m going to die in Scotland.” Talking about Scotland I think the setting was great. It might have given the story a bit of an Agatha Christie feel, thinking about the book “And Then There Were None” but for me the old classic settings still work. Large scary mansions, secret tunnels, walls with eyes and ears, quirky locals, etc. I’m just a sucker for these kinds of settings. However, I think it then became all a little too disjointed as bodies started appearing all over the place and it wasn’t always easy trying to make the connections.
Tina: Yes, agreed. The mystery was great even though there were times I felt like I was reading an Agatha Christie crime novel. I got a bit confused with all the side characters and interchangeable plots and sometimes it was difficult to keep track of who is who. The lines between good guys and bad guys were blurry, and in the end there were more questions than answers.
Macky: I feel what I actually got was a slightly convoluted, Cluedo (Clue –US) style murder mystery with so many characters thrown in that to be honest I got a bit confused about what was going on half the time. It had its entertaining moments, some excitement and a couple of shock revelations that I didn't see coming, but for me this lacked the impact and feel of the rest of the series. This is the first time I've rated lower than four stars and I feel quite sad about that because I really do love these guys!
Mark: Now, lets get to the wedding bit. I think we were all absolutely left on the edge of our seats at the end of the last book, wondering, hoping that there would be a wedding between Ty and Zane or at least a proposal. Well, I’m happy to say we got one – YEAH!! The thing for me was that we get two before though. The one on the boat between Deuce and Livi (which Nick presided over) then in the hospital Nick and Kelly practically give each other their wedding vows and then right at the end we get to Ty and Zane - once again Nick and Kelly upstaging the show. I just felt this should have been reserved only for Ty and Zane in this book. The title I know is a play on words, but we effectively get three weddings and not THE ONE everyone has been waiting for.
Tina: Yeah, Mark. Nothing really happened to Ty & Zane’s story until the very end, and despite what happened being really good, it wasn't enough for me. What we got was Ty’s proposal in a continuous loop. When Ty asks Zane the first time it was like he was dropping an emotional bomb and I thought ‘Yay, he’s just saving the whole book’. But after… how many times?… *sigh* it wasn’t cute anymore.
Macky: Ditto on both your thoughts guys. I admit to having an eye rolling moment at the wedding aboard the boat. I'm afraid that was a bit too cheesy for me and once again Nick was in the spotlight! What I did love were the moments when Ty and Zane were alone together. The first full on love scene in the castle was hot and sexy and emotionally charged and even though it seemed a little late in arriving it was still sigh worthy, also the hot spring scene was yummy. Just wish we'd had more T&Z time!
Mark: All in all I was thoroughly entertained by the book even if I felt the shift in character focus was a little off. Abi’s writing drew me in and I loved the way she writes about her characters even if they weren’t in exactly the order I would like to have had. I will still be reading the last book, if there is one to come and hope that this book was just a little hiccup in the Ty and Zane saga.
Tina: Overall, the book left me kind of divided. It was exciting, yes, and there were some great moments but it didn’t have the same impact as Touch & Geaux or any of the previous books. Unfortunately it didn’t quite manage to live up to my expectations, I just missed the general feel of the series. Ball & Chain did feel more of a Sidewinder novel than part of the Cut & Run series and even though I’m not a massive fan of the first Sidewinder novella I’m now considering to read the next follow up. Somehow, I feel myself forced to do so and I don’t like that feeling.
Of course I look forward to reading the last book of the Cut & Run series and I’m sure I will do it with mixed feelings. Mark and Macky, you both know how I feel about our guys, Ty & Zane will have a place in my heart forever.
Macky: Yep Tina, I felt the same about the first sidewinder novella, and yes, the next to last book in the Ty and Zane saga as you said Mark. For me Touch & Geaux was always going to be a hard act to follow. OMG, that book blew me away, sadly this one didn't achieve that but I think if you've followed them this far you should read it because as from what I gleaned from the end of Ball & Chain, I'm still looking forward to book 9. I just hope that next time we get what it says on the tin... Ty and Zane's endgame, with no unnecessary ingredients!
Rating ~ 3 Stars
Series Reading order
Book 1 ~ Cut & Run ~ http://amzn.to/1h9yz1a
Book 2 ~ Sticks & Stones ~ http://amzn.to/1ixqL8o
Book 3 ~ Fish & Chips ~ http://amzn.to/OwPPkV
Book 4 ~ Dived & Conquer ~ http://amzn.to/NpAnpE
Book 4.5 ~ Dine & Dash ~ FREE READ here on Abi’s Tumblr
Book 5 ~ Armed & Dangerous ~ http://amzn.to/1nzr9Id
Book 6 ~ Stars & Stripes ~ http://amzn.to/1p5TXUr
Book 7 ~ Touch & Geaux ~ http://amzn.to/1fDTiUB
Book 8 ~ Ball & Chain ~ http://amzn.to/1mbGLjz
About Abigail Roux
Abigail Roux was born and raised in North Carolina. A past volleyball star who specializes in sarcasm and painful historical accuracy, she currently spends her time coaching high school volleyball and investigating the mysteries of single motherhood. Any spare time is spent living and dying with every Atlanta Braves and Carolina Panthers game of the year. Abigail has a daughter, Little Roux, who is the light of her life, a boxer, four rescued cats who play an ongoing live-action variation of 'Call of Duty' throughout the house, a certifiable extended family down the road, and a cast of thousands in her head.
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Don’t forget to pop back on Friday when we have TY & ZANE in the house… OMG!!!