Title ~ Part & Parcel (Sidewinder Book 3)
Author ~ Abigail Roux
Publisher ~ Riptide Publishing
Published ~ 19th December 2015
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
Nick O'Flaherty and Kelly Abbott had their happy ending in sight when a friend’s call for help almost ended with them losing it to the blade of a knife. Now, in the aftermath of near-disaster, both men are trying to heal and move on.
Moving on together, though, is harder than either of them realized it would be. Kelly struggles with simply being a lover instead of the Doc, while Nick is mired in his recovery. The distance between them inches along in stilted silence.
Desperately seeking solace, Nick finally gathers the courage to sort through the possessions his dear friend and fellow Sidewinder teammate Elias Sanchez left him when he died. Instead of comforting memories, Nick and Kelly find a stack of letters and strict instructions from Eli that prompt them to send out a call for assistance. With Eli’s letters in hand, Sidewinder sets out on one last mission together, seeking peace and absolution from beyond the grave—and from each other.
Abigail Roux has long been an important author to me. When I first got serious about reading contemporary gay fiction, she was the first author that caught my eye and I immediately became a fan. Her book “Cut and Run” (with Madeleine Urban) was a revelation to me. This was the story of powerful, physical men, straight in every way except for being gay. Culturally, personally, in background and attitude, these two men personified the U. S. Marines (Ty) and the FBI (Zane). Thrown together on an investigation, they hated each other on sight. And, of course, they ended up falling in love.
This stunning introduction led to a host of books spanning two different series. Eventually, Ms. Roux went solo on the Cut and Run series, and introduced a spin-off, the Sidewinder series. This new series also featured Ty and Zane, but added all of Ty’s buddies in his Marine Force Recon unit. These guys were re-activated by the military, from time to time, to go fight major bad guys around the world, because Sidewinder was still the best of the best. They did a lot of traveling, intelligence-gathering, killing and surviving (mostly), both abroad and in the United States. Often, the enemy was our own rogue intelligence agencies and private armies being assembled by ideological factions in the government.
Every one of those books was packed with action, the love between brothers-in-arms, even relationships between some of the Sidewinder team that went way beyond brotherhood. But brotherhood is what they were all about. They always had each other’s backs. They’d all die for each other.
One of their team did die for them, Eli Sanchez, who was killed in action ten years ago. He became the missing Sidewinder, brought back, as a ghost, in this final installment in the Sidewinder series. What Ms. Roux has done here is write a paean to the team. This is the book that wraps up the saga of Sidewinder, that addresses the surviving members’ return and adjustment to civilian life. It’s tough for all of them. They’ve had an awful time finding themselves within a different context, maintaining relationships and fighting off the regrets and depression over who they were, and are no longer.
Just a quick note: Ty and Zane continue on, apparently. Ms. Roux provides a preview of her next book, and these two original fighters and lovers are still very much involved in intelligence and law enforcement, but now on the down-low, leading ostensibly normal middle-class lives while they continue dipping their toes into the dangerous and dark affairs to which they’ve devoted most of their adult lives.
And though they appear in “Part & Parcel”, they are not the main characters. Kelly (Doc) and Nick are. These two men spent years together as partners. They only began to see each other as more than teammates a few years ago, and both bisexual men have come to realize that they are “it” for each other. Unfortunately that’s not enough. While cleaning out the sailing yacht he lives on, Nick comes across Sanchez’s personal effects, a box of the important things Eli left behind, when he died, and his mother gave to Nick for safekeeping.
It’s been ten years, yet Nick has not yet been able to bring himself to check its contents. He’s experiencing emotional problems. As much as he loves Kelly, he’s been depressed and becoming more distant than he’d like. He and Kelly have a number of issues to resolve between them, enough guilt, sadness and regrets to last a lifetime, all of which needs to be addressed if the two men are going to spend a life together.
From the grave, Eli Sanchez has arranged exactly that. Before he died, he wrote out a series of instructions for some kind of cross-country treasure hunt, each envelope to be opened upon arrival at their next destination. Nick needs to fulfill Sanchez’ last request. Maybe that’s what’s missing in his life with Kelly: closure.
So he rounds up all the other living Sidewinder team members and asks them to join him on this last journey with Sanchez. They all agree. What ensues is a week-long odyssey across the country in which they are given tasks, each of which illuminates some part of what they meant to each other, and what Sidewinder meant to them. It’s an emotional trip, one with apparently other-worldly accompaniment by their deceased brother.
In some ways, these travels and tasks are a welcome memorial to Eli. They’re also, at times, terribly difficult and daunting, requiring a brutally honest re-examination of who they were, who they are, and where they’re going. None so much as Nick and Doc, who dredge up a number of slights, fears and trust issues that stand as obstacles to the happiness they both deserve.
“Part & Parcel” is not like the other Sidewinder books, and that may disappoint some fans. Though Ms. Roux brings her top-flight writing to the book, it is more a eulogy for Sidewinder than a Sidewinder tale. There is no action, no danger, none of the propulsive energy Ms. Roux has brought to the previous books. It’s an introspective book. Though I don’t think this is the best book in the series, it will still be welcome to fans of the series as a final visit with this indomitable and somewhat crazy crew. Most of the loose strings are tied up, and the reader is left with hope for them all as they move on.
It was a great series. I’m sorry to see it go.
Sidewinder Series Reading Order
Book Two : Cross & Crown