Rating: 4.5 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
Ty Grady and Zane Garrett are back in Baltimore after some crazy time off in Texas. Things are starting to change for them at work, though, as all their time in the public spotlight has made continued undercover work next to impossible. But before much can happen job-wise, Ty gets an emergency call from a friend in New Orleans. Though Ty’s former undercover assignment there left him on such bad terms he knew he could never return to the city, Ty can not refuse a friend in need and he and Zane take off for New Orleans.
When the men arrive, both their pasts come to the forefront. And while there are lots of good memories for both men, there are also great threats from both their pasts. Threats that not only mean risks to their lives, but risks to their relationship as well.
This newest installment in the fabulous Cut & Run series is another great story with a very different tone than the preceding book, Stars & Stripes. Where that story was sweet and romantic with a bit of madcap mystery, this book is definitely deeper and more murky. After six books of getting little bits of Ty and Zane’s personal history, we finally get a lot of detail that fills in some missing pieces about what has shaped these guys. For Zane’s part we learn about his first trip to New Orleans with his wife years ago, and an experience there that forever changed him. We also learn more about his time in Miami and his undercover assignment there. With Ty we get even more details, learning about past loves while in the Marines, how he got recruited for his elite team, and what led them to be discharged. We also finally learn what Ty has been doing on all these special assignments for Richard Burns. Although things got a little bit flashback heavy for me in the first half of the book, I really liked these details that really flesh out both these guys in ways we haven’t seen before. We understand more about them and their relationship, what drives both men, and what they need from each other.
As I anticipated after the feel good Stars & Stripes, things aren’t as smooth sailing for Ty and Zane as they were in that book. It seemed inevitable that after all that happy they would run into some snags, and they definitely do here. There is a lot of the past that is brought out here, a lot of sharing about their lives that these guys have never done before. And with that sharing comes some new understanding, some of which isn’t welcome. So this one definitely tips way over on the angst meter, but I think it really works. For these guys to work in the long term they needed to get the past out in the open. Their conflict made sense to me, didn’t drag on indefinitely, and was resolved in a way that seemed realistic to both of these men.
So on the character development front, I think this story really excels. Where I struggled with it a little was in the plot. There is always a lot happening in these stories, but here I felt like there were so many elements, so many twists and turns and changes that I often had a hard time following what was going on. Between all the back stories, all the lying and false information from one of the characters, and all the various plots and plans, things just got very convoluted. At one point one of the characters jokes he needs a chart to keep track of their latest plan, and I thought, yes, I need a chart! It was not just complexity of the story, but so many different elements thrown in. At one point we have three, possibly four, distinct different bad guys after Ty and Zane, all of whom seem to be interconnected in ways that at times seemed so coincidental as to stretch belief (not to mention a coincidence in the men’s shared past that did make me roll my eyes a bit). At times this felt a little like everything but the kitchen sink. I see where the author is going here. This is a book that really digs up the past and forces Ty and Zane to finally deal with many issues they have been glossing over. And they need that in order to sort of purge the past and move on. But sometimes I felt there was just too much story here, too many bad guys, too many twists, too much happening to really keep a smooth flow to the book.
I also continue to be bothered by the POV switches. This has been an issue for me throughout the series, though it has improved greatly since the first book. In addition to Ty and Zane’s POV, we often get the POV of other side characters. It adds a layer of confusion when most of the book we are in Ty and Zane’s head, and then suddenly we jump characters with no warning. Here I found it especially confusing because the side POVs are so similar to Ty and Zane’s, it took me a while to figure out we were in someone else’s head and it felt jarring every time. I am just not sure this adds anything (particularly when we get a really minor character’s POV at one point in this book) and it really interrupts the flow of the book for me.
But issues aside, I really enjoyed this one and couldn’t put it down. It is amazing to look back over the series and see how far the author has taken these guys, how much their characters and their relationship have really grown and developed over the course of the books. But at the same time, these guys are still Ty and Zane, the men we have grown to love. As much as I don’t always love angsty books, I really think Roux makes a good choice here to finally delve into their pasts, to open up those secrets and force the men to deal with issues they have been dancing around for a while. It allows them to come back stronger and to have a relationship built on solid ground, not on secrets. Despite the fact that there is still a lot unresolved for these men, I feel like this story sets them up for a great future together. Another great installment and I am eagerly awaiting the next one in the series.
P.S. Another great cover. As always we get a key symbol from the stories, in this case the voodoo doll. Nicely done.
Note: Today is also the Touch & Geaux Web Hunt where you can win great prizes from collecting quotes from participating blogs. My post is up so be sure and check out my quote!