shock & aweRating: 5 stars
Buy Links: 
 Amazon | All Romance
Length: Novella

After Kelly Abbott is shot during a firefight in New Orleans, his good friend and Sidewinder teammate Nick O’Flaherty follows him home to help Kelly recuperate.  The men have been like brothers for years, part of an elite military unit that has remained tight even as they all have gone their separate ways after duty.  Last year, Nick shocked them all by revealing that he is both bisexual and had been harboring a crush on their fellow team member Ty.  And now that Kelly and Nick have some time alone together, Kelly finds himself  unexpectedly curious about Nick’s interest in men.

When Kelly asks Nick to kiss him, Nick first assumes it is the pain killers talking.  He is sure that his straight friend isn’t really interested in him. But when Kelly presses, Nick gives in and the guys find that they are scorching hot together.  The kiss leads to even more, and Kelly begins to realize that what he really wants is Nick. The guys are as close as two men can be. They know all each other’s secrets, strengths, and weaknesses.  And now that the attraction is clearly there between them, it all seems just perfect to go forward into a relationship.  But despite Kelly’s sudden confidence that they are perfect for each other, Nick remains wary.  Kelly just barely survived the shooting, is recently divorced, and is hopped up on pain killers. This isn’t the best time to be making any major decisions. And the men are so close, Nick fears what would happen if things don’t work out between them.  But the chemistry between the men is incredibly strong and they must decide if they can take a leap of faith and a chance on a future of happiness together.

Shock & Awe is the first book in the new Sidewinder series, and a spin off on Roux’s amazing Cut & Run series.  Along with Ty from Cut & Run, Nick and Kelly are two of the members of the Sidewinder group.  This story drops us in just around the end of Touch & Geaux, the most recent Cut & Run series book, and starts us off with Kelly’s recovery.  Many readers sensed the chemistry between these two characters in the original series, myself included, so I am really excited about this new spin off and the possibilities for focusing on the other members of this fascinating military unit.

This story hit everything I was looking for here.  First off, it is incredibly hot and Nick and Kelly are so sexy and just scorching together.  Kelly is exploring his interest in men for the first time, so he is both tentative and enthusiastic at once. And Nick is aggressive and growly and so hot as he leads Kelly along.  At the same time, these guys are a perfect fit for one another.  Kelly is the risk taker, the one who looks before he leaps.  And Nick is the nurturer of the group, the one who makes sure everyone is ok and taken care of. I love how we see those personality traits carry through in this story.  Nick is so doting and sweet with Kelly, making sure his every need is met, caring for him so lovingly, and at the same time able to turn on the heat and the intensity when these guys are intimate together.  And their personalities play out in their reactions to getting together, Kelly being ready to jump right in and Nick being more cautious.  Roux really does a nice job in a fairly short story of conveying so much about these men and helping us really get to know them.

So this story was just a perfect treat for me — sexy, romantic, a surprising twist, and overall a great introduction to a new series. I am really looking forward to seeing how Roux develops the Sidewinder books and can’t wait for more Nick and Kelly, and hopefully the rest of the team as well.  For Cut & Run fans, this is a story not to be missed. And if you are one of the few who hasn’t read that amazing series, this story will stand alone for you just fine. So just a fabulous book and one that I highly recommend.

P.S. This story ends at about the 80% mark of the file and is followed by a free short called Bait & Switch that is available only for those who purchase Shock & Awe.  It is another Sidewinder story so it focuses on Nick and Kelly, though Zane does make an appearance and we get some news about Ty as well.  The story picks up about three months after the end of Shock & Awe and continues Nick and Kelly’s story, almost like an extended epilogue.  It is sexy and romantic and ties things up in a nice HEA for the guys.  Just a wonderful addition and a great way to end the book. (Just be aware if you are following the Cut & Run series but haven’t read Touch & Geaux yet, this short has spoilers for the ending that book.)

Cover Review: I like this cover.  It is nothing super fancy but I like the way it ties together with the look of the Cut & Run series but still is unique. And the clover and the blood spatter is the perfect image for the shot up Kelly and Irish Nick.  Well done.

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