Story Rating: 4.5 stars
Audio Rating: 4.5 stars
Narrator: Brock Thompson
Length: 3 hours, 59 minutes
After a near death experience, taking a bullet to protect his team, Kelly Abbott is back home at his cabin in Colorado, his teammate Nick O’Flaherty at his side. Being taken care of is not on Kelly’s list of favorites, but having Nick by his side is better than anyone else. The fact that Nick has recently come out—not only come out but declared his crush for Ty—helps. It helps because for years Kelly has had eyes on his best friend, not knowing what it meant. But with Nick’s confession, Kelly finds himself wondering if it’s more than keeping his eye on his best friend (and the women in his bed). High on pain killers, Kelly makes his move, asking Nick to kiss him, stunned and thrilled when he does.
Nick loves Kelly—he always has. They’ve been best friends for years and even though Nick’s focus has been on Ty, that doesn’t mean he didn’t notice Kelly—just not in a romantic way. Then Kelly asks for a kiss… and Nick gives it. Now he can only think of what a bad idea this is, but every touch, every kiss feels right.
Nick and Kelly settle into a new discovery of each other, finding romance in a deep-seated friendship. Kelly loves Nick and Nick loves Kelly. This is obvious. Then orders come, out of the blue, recalling Nick to active duty but not Kelly. It’s a rift that could tear them apart if Nick doesn’t tell the truth.
Shock & Awe is the first story in Roux’s Sidewinder series, and really, since this is a spin off series, it should be read in conjunction with the Cut & Run series, which puts Shock & Awe after Touch & Geaux in the timeline.
I loved this book the first time I read it and I loved it all over again listening this time. The beginning of Kelly and Nick is spectacular. It’s intense and emotional and heartfelt. I love the easy-but-not transition from friends who know each other deep down to lovers who know everything about each other. In a complete turn from the Cut & Run series’ action and mystery, I love that this story is full-on romance and relationship building. This is the book that begins a meant-to-be relationship. An ideal friend-to-lovers tale.
That’s not to say there isn’t drama. Poor Kelly is certain of what he wants, and what he wants is Nick. Nick isn’t so certain. Not that he doesn’t want or love Kelly, he just doesn’t want to ruin a longstanding friendship, and he’s not so sure Kelly’s lack of inhibition when it comes to this new exploration doesn’t have more to do with pain killers and proximity. I love the back and forth with these guys—how Nick’s head wars with his heart.
As for the narration, Brock Thompson is new to me and I liked him. A lot. His voices are good and his pacing perfect. The only reason I couldn’t give him a perfect rating was because every now and again, he would lose track of his voices—not often, mind you—but sometimes I would hear Kelly’s voice where Nick’s should have been or Nick’s in the place of Kelly’s. Still, his storytelling skill warrants an above average rating.
As a lover of all writings by Abigail Roux, this book remains one of my favorites, and now, with it, I’ve found a narrator to keep on my watch (and listen) list. I highly recommend Shock & Awe by Abigail Roux (both written word and spoken).
Bait & Switch
Bait & Switch is a short, tacked on to the ending of Shock & Awe. It begins with Zane’s POV (whom I am and have always been head over heels for). Nick is back on a 48-hour leave to drop off a message, a love note, to Zane from Ty. After retrieving his reply, Nick spends an evening at dinner with Zane and, thankfully, Kelly. Then some the alone time with Kelly.
Again, this prelude is full-on romance and absolutely, 100% Kelly and Nick—sweet, snarky, and damn sexy. I liked seeing the growth of their relationship and even the growing friendship between Nick and Zane.