cross and crownRating: 5 stars
Buy Links: 
 Amazon | All Romance
Length: Novel

Detective Nick O’Flaherty is called to investigate a robbery and double homicide outside a used bookstore.  He is happy to hear there is a witness alive until he learns the man has amnesia, with no memory of who he is or what happened at the crime scene.  Nick has no idea whether the John Doe (who he dubs “JD”) is an innocent bystander, one of the good guys, or one of the criminals.  Either way, Nick has to keep a close eye on JD until they figure out who robbed the bookstore and why.

Nick’s boyfriend Kelly Abbott is in town for a visit and joins in the case as a special consultant.  Adding to the group is old friend and foe Julian Cross, who turns out to be connected to the case in a surprising way.  As the team begins to investigate the crimes, they learn about links to a theft during the Revolutionary War and a priceless treasure that the bad guys are seeking.  It becomes a race against time to find the treasure before the thieves catch up to them, never quite knowing who to trust and putting their lives on the line to solve the mystery.

Cross & Crown is the second book in Abigail Roux’s Sidewinder series, a spinoff of her fabulous Cut & Run series.  The story picks up in the timeline after Ball & Chain, the latest Cut & Run book, after Nick has recovered from surgery and is just heading back onto active field duty for the Boston P.D.  He and Kelly are still going strong, but living in two different cities their time together is limited.  I continue to really like this pair together.  Not only are they super hot, but I love the sense of friendship and camaraderie born of their years in the military together.  There is such a closeness to them, a bond that is so strong.  I just feel like I can completely believe in them as a couple.  The two are fun guys, with lots of banter and asserting dominance with each other. But at the same time, they are so sweet and loving, and as I said, super sexy together.  This story gives us a nice sense of them in the real world, unlike the more secluded bubble of the first book, and I think they are a great match.

I also enjoyed getting to know them more individually.  Kelly is still not quite as well developed, but we know Nick well from his friendship with Ty Grady in Cut & Run.  Here we really get a sense of Nick’s loyalty and his commitment to those he cares about.  We already knew that he puts others before himself; we have seen that in the way he protected his sisters from an abusive father, and most especially how he donated part of his liver to save the same man.  Here we see him interact with JD, a man who is just so lost. He has no memory of who he is and doesn’t even know if he is a good guy or a criminal.  Nick is very protective over JD, and even though he is cautious with the man until they know the full story, you can really see his determination to help JD and his compassion for him.

Roux is so fabulous at creating great mystery and suspense stories and this is no exception.  What starts out as a more traditional looking robbery/homicide ends up turning into a treasure hunt, with clues hidden among war relics and a race against the bad guys for who can solve the puzzle first.  It is so creative and exciting and just kept me frantically following along as they uncover clues.  This is where Roux really excels for me and I am continually impressed by how book after book she is able to write new and creative mysteries that keep me captivated.

I was also thrilled to see Julian Cross tossed into the mix as well.  I am a big fan of Julian’s from Warrior’s Cross (and especially from Armed & Dangerous) so I was so happy to see him back and interacting with our other characters.  I love that he comes across so cool and droll, with sarcastic quips and eye rolls, but lurking underneath is a killer super spy who can take out anyone.  I’m not sure if we will see him again in this series but his inclusion here really worked quite well.

As Roux winds down her Cut & Run series, I am so thrilled to see where Sidewinder is picking up.  The series continues to provide the great romance and fabulous mysteries we have grown to love about the main series. There seems to be so much potential here for where she can take the Sidewinder books, and so far I have been a big fan.  So another great installment and I am eagerly awaiting more.

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