Beverley and Brandilyn tag team Ty & Zane as they review Abigail Roux’s latest in the Cut & Run series, Ball & Chain.
Title: Ball & Chain (Cut & Run #8)
Author: Abigail Roux
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Brandilyn’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Beverley’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars
From the Publisher:
Home from their unexpected deployment, the former members of Marine Force Recon team Sidewinder rejoin their loved ones and try to pick up the pieces of the lives they were forced to leave behind. Ty Grady comes home to Zane Garrett, only to find that everything around him has changed—even the men he went to war with. He barely has time to adjust before his brother, Deuce, asks Ty to be his best man. But that isn’t all Deuce asks Ty to do, and Ty must call for backup to deal with the business issues of Deuce’s future father-in-law.
Nick O’Flaherty and Kelly Abbott join Ty and Zane at the wedding on an island in Scotland, thinking they’re there to assuage Deuce’s paranoia. But when bodies start dropping and boats start sinking, the four men get more involved with the festivities than they’d ever planned to.
With the clock ticking and the killer just as stuck on the isolated island as they are, Ty and Zane must navigate a veritable minefield of family, friends, and foes to stop the whole island from being destroyed.
I was so giddy with this ARC hit my in-box, that I couldn’t sleep (and it hit my in-box about 12:30am).
There comes a point in every series that just opening it a book, even a new one, is like coming home. You are invested in the characters, not just the main characters, but the side characters as well. Ball & Chain is a perfect example of such a book. We have spent 7 books falling further and further in love with Ty Grady and Zane Garrett. No matter who you have in your head when you think of those two, if you are a fan of the Cut & Run series, you are ready to see them again.
Cut & Run is not a series you can pick up in the middle and understand what is going on. You have to be invested from the beginning, but the time is oh so worth it. In Ball & Chain you see all your old favorites as they meet in Scotland for Livi and Deuce’s wedding. This book also has a lot of a new favorite couple, Nick & Kelly (from Sidewinder fame). I loved seeing both couples. I loved seeing the reunion between Ty & Zane. After the tears and fears in Touch & Geaux, Ball & Chain is very much a thank you to the fans for sticking with these guys. You see their relationship grow and mature. You see them stick up for each other. You see things change.
There is, of course, a mystery that must be solved, and Ty & Zane bring their own unique skills to the investigation They have Nick & Kelly along for the ride, this time, and much hi-jinx ensues. The mystery, however, is just the backdrop for the personal relationships to evolve. Relationships that are both between the couples and between the best friends. In the end, there is just enough left undone to whet your appetite for both Cross & Crown (Sidewinder #2) and the, as yet unnamed, Cut & Run Book 9.
So why the 4* rating? Well, this was far from the best of the series. First of all there wasn’t enough Ty & Zane. Too much focus was put on the rest of the cast of characters. Also, I felt from VERY early on that this book was simply a stop on the way to the next books (both Cut & Run #9 and Sidewinder #2). In past Cut & Run novels, I was able to fully immerse in the story and enjoy my time with Ty & Zane. This just didn’t feel the same. It almost felt as if Ty & Zane, the two people we were there to see, were relegated to secondary characters. Also, there were times that I thought, “I have read this before”, which never bodes well for a story. Will I continue the story? Yes. Will I re-read Ball & Chain before book 9 is released? Most definitely. Has it taken over the top spot in my favorite Cut & Run stories? Nope.
Like Brandilyn, I felt like I was coming home when I started to read Ball & Chain, Ty and Zane are as close to the perfect alpha male, heroes as you can get. I have always waited impatiently for the next in the Cut & Run series, as soon as I’d finished the last one, and the arrival of this ‘episode’ was no different. Brandilyn has outlined the story and the characters you will meet in this novel perfectly, so I shall not repeat them. Ball & Chain felt quite like a wrapping up story for Ty and Zane, and maybe because I love these two so much that fact heavily overshadowed the story for me. Nick and Kelly are a wonderful couple with many issues and adventures coming to them I’m sure, but this novel felt like them taking over from Ty and Zane. The story is fun, but reminiscent of many stories I have read before and this was disappointing. There are many explanations for the title, which I really liked, but I don’t want to drop any spoilers into this review, as Abi Roux’s many readers would not thank me. So I will just say that there were certain scenes that made me laugh, some that had me ‘prompting’ a character what to say, and of course one scene I sniffed at, between Ty and Nick. All of these things make this a great read. However, there were characterisation inaccuracies with both Ty and Nick that grated. In addition there were many repetitions of language, which also irked and I expected better editing from Riptide Publishing. I lost count how many times people ‘spat’, smirked, licked lips and chuckled. I enjoyed this novel but it was possibly the weakest of the series. There was a part that I said out loud ‘good grief that could be Brandi!’, which could mean, having read all of these books, we are starting to channel Ty and Zane or Abi Roux! I love this author’s dry humour, and there were examples to be found,
‘Quit being a dick’, Kelly grunted. He pushed himself to his feet. ‘I’m going to get some Advil for the dick.’
There were a few structural parts of the text I had problems with, where the next paragraph would suddenly switch to another time and location, and I found this ruined the flow of the text. I have always given 5* for Abi’s books because I genuinely love them. This time I couldn’t, in addition to the points above I always find ‘wrapping up’ books slightly unsatisfying and here it feels the author is tired of her characters.
This novel did however, make me want to go back to the beginning and start Ty and Zane’s journey all over again and remember how great it was.
I would like to thank Riptide Publishing for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
Note from PBA: If you read this review when it was first published, you will notice a few changes in the days since Beverley and I first published our reviews. Sometimes when you read a book, forces outside your control can cloud your view — excitement over the book, the love of familiar characters, the hype surrounding the book, your mood. Sometimes the only way to get an accurate feel for a story is to let it sit and “percolate” for a bit. After that percolation period, Beverley and I were both in agreement that we needed to make a few updates to our reviews.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
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