Rating: 5 stars
“I’m sorry. The walls are closing in and I need to go. Love you.”
And with that note, Ty Grady was gone, leaving Zane Garrett to wake up alone after finally declaring his love for partner. Missing Ty, and with his frustration levels rising by the minute, Zane prowls the hallways of the Bureau in search of anything to occupy his time. When the Bureau Chief sends him as backup to an agent on a specialty mission, Zane is astonished to find out that the agent he is meeting is none other than his missing partner, Ty. Their mission? To retrieve and escort part-time CIA operative and assassin Julian Cross (Warrior’s Cross) to Washington, DC, to testify against his former employers, whether Cross wants to or not. In this case, it’s definitely not. Cross won’t go.
Julian retired after the events of Warriors Cross and has moved in with his love, Cameron Jacobs in Chicago. And nothing, including a couple of FBI agents, is going to take him away from that. Ty and Zane have orders that say otherwise and when the four come together, the explosions and gunfire reverberate from Chicago to Washington. Fighting not only each other but agents from other agencies as more and more people pursue them across state after state, Ty and Zane must also work on their newfound relationship as the present mission and Ty’s past threaten to come between them. Sometimes being Armed & Dangerous is just not enough to see them through the dangers ahead.
Armed & Dangerous is the 5th book in the Cut & Run series started originally by Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux in 2008, and in my opinion, is the most satisfying book of the series. This is a remarkable book, made even more so by the fact that Abigail Roux is now writing the series alone. To take nothing away from the terrific job Urban did together with Roux on the previous books, it is clear that Roux was right to carry on with Ty and Zane even without her. Years of coauthoring the books have given Roux decisive knowledge of both Ty and Zane (and their unique personalities) so that the writing is seamless between this book and Divide & Conquer, the previous novel. Only in the absence of Urban’s name on the cover does the difference between the books become apparent.
Roux is a master of location and she visits the cities where her characters reside and travel. She often posts pictures of her research travels on her website. Such thoroughness and authenticity is appreciated and apparent in the way she captures the flavor of the neighborhoods in Baltimore, as well as Chicago. As someone who lives in the DC area and has visited Chicago, I feel she has the cities spot on, including the Verizon Center and The Greene Turtle. I really applaud that extra effort in an author and think it contributes so much to the story that a realistically described locale can become a character all its own in a novel.
In addition to location, her descriptions of the fighting, explosions, and, in an hilarious scene, TSA search methods, are all so incredibly written that the story moves forward at a pace that keeps time with your heart, beating rapidly with anxiety and anticipation as the story builds to its conclusion. But its with the characters, and what characters they are, that Roux really shines.
Ty Grady and Zane Garrett are two of the most complicated (and charismatic) protagonists in a relationship that I can remember. Absolutely wonderful creations at the beginning, each has continued to evolve and strengthen as the series continues, the reader learning about them as they learn about each other, adjusting by small increments to the partnership the Bureau foisted upon them. This journey continues with Armed & Dangerous as Ty and Zane’s relationship reaches a new stage. The insecurities that have hounded both men and kept them from acknowledging their love are slowly let go, the men finally on the same page at the same time. To appreciate the struggles these men have gone through to get to this level, it is imperative that the books be read in the order they are written. Ty and Zane have faced down their own demons, including drugs and alcohol, as well as the Bureau’s use of their abilities and still gone forward in their relationship, to each other’s surprise. These men are beautifully written, each with their own unique personality and a dialog that reflects that individuality in each phrase they utter. It is no wonder that these men have rabid fans with Team Zane or Team Ty t-shirts of their own. I *cough* am a fan of both.
In each book, a layer of the past is pealed back, revealing more of one of the main characters background. Here it is Ty’s turn and some of the revelations are truly unexpected, including the real reason he joined the military. I really wasn’t expecting that one. And that is just another one of the many pleasures these books, and this one in particular, deliver. I never know what will happen next. Roux kept me guessing right up until the end and then some. I love that. Also it’s the tricks of the trade that Ty, Zane, and Julian employ to frustrate, roadblock, and totally disable those trying to apprehend them that amaze me as well. Wait until you get to the doorknob maneuver. Amazing.
But all the neat bells and whistles won’t help if you don’t have a great plot filled with tremendous characters. That Armed & Dangerous has in spades. Ty and Zane are joined here by Julian Cross, an enigmatic Irish assassin and his lover, Cameron, a waiter in an upscale restaurant. Yes, you read that correctly, that would be Cameron the waiter. Definitely not a person you would expect to find paired up with such a dangerous individual as Julian Cross. But Cameron is more than his unremarkable exterior and a lovely layered character in his own right. Julian is not your typical assassin either as he comes complete with his own driver, Preston, and a pair of wicked Maine Coon cats named Smith and Wesson. I have loved all of them since their introduction in Warrior’s Cross and was thrilled to see them brought into this story. To fully appreciate both characters, again I will direct you to read their backstory in the book I just mentioned. To read Armed & Dangerous without reading Warrior’s Cross or any of the other Cut & Run books, is only to skim the surface of the ocean, missing all the life, formations, and depth that make up the whole. If you are already a fan of these books, you know what I mean. If you are new to the series, stop reading this and head out to get Cut & Run. No reading from the back! I know who you are!
Abigail Roux is an amazing author. Armed & Dangerous is an fabulous example of her talent. I can’t wait for the next story in the Cut & Run series. I need to know what happens next to Ty and Zane. And to Julian, Cameron, and those darn cats. That’s what happens with great characters, they live beyond their pages and reside in our hearts. Ty and Zane do both.
Here is the series in the order they must be read to fully appreciate the characters and the growth of their relationship:
- Cut and Run
- Sticks and Stones
- Fish and Chips
- Divide & Conquer
- Warriors Cross ( Julian and Cameron’s story – side novel to Cut & Run series)
- Armed and Dangerous
Note: All books but Armed & Dangerous were written by both Madeline Urban and Abigail Roux together. Armed & Dangerous by Abigail Roux alone.
Cover: I love the covers on this series. Simple yet elegant. And yes, handcuffs appear often in this story so this is perfect. Love it.