Ball & Chain
Title : Ball & Chain
Series : Cut & Run, Book #8
Author : Abigail Roux
Publisher : Riptide Publishing (Buy Here)
Genre : M/M, Contemporary, Action, Romance
Length : 340 pages (e-book)
Published : March 17, 2014
Rating : ★★★★★
B L U R B :
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.
R E V I E W :
WE RECEIVED AN ARC FROM RIPTIDE IN RETURN FOR AN HONEST REVIEW. HONESTLY? THE BOOK IS WONDERFUL. PLEASE BEWARE THAT THERE ARE SOME MINOR SPOILERS IN THE REVIEW.
Sidewinder is finally home. Life can finally return to normal for Ty and Zane except it really can’t. The FBI is aware of their romantic involvement. In light of Zane’s recent promotion it’s not appropriate for him to be in a supervisory position over his boyfriend. Ty resigns instead of allowing a reassignment. Ty finds himself adrift and unable to learn anything about the mole in the FBI that is a direct threat to Zane. In addition to feeling useless Ty is dealing with an acute increase in symptoms from his PTSD. The most recent deployment was bad for the Sidewinder guys. Despite promotions they are leaving the Corps, en masse. Nick is even considering leaving police work. Nick is also having problems with his family. As a result of alcoholism his father will die if he doesn’t get a liver transplant. Nick is likely to be the most compatible donor. He is reluctant to help a man who subjected him and his siblings to years of abuse, but he is also reluctant to allow a man to die. When Ty’s brother Deuce invites Ty and Zane to his impromptu Christmas season wedding on a private island in Scotland he does so in addition to asking for help. His future in-laws have been threatened and his baby girl may be in danger of kidnapping. Ty invites Nick at Deuce’s request. Nick is able to bring a date and must bring a gun. Of course he brings Kelly, there is much confusion. Nick and Kelly have yet to disclose to anyone in Sidewinder their new romantic relationship.
Upon arriving at the small island with a big fancy house all four guys immediately feel they aren’t getting full information from Deuce’s fiancé’s family, the Stantons. Mr. Stanton doesn’t seem overly inclined to share anything and he’s completely confident his security team can handle anything. He simply wants some extra men their to protect his granddaughter. It’s not long after that they find the first body. Maybe it’s coincidental, but all the boats on the island were set adrift when a tree fell on the boathouse and dock and because of the bad weather none of the radios or cell phones work. Nick is roped into leading the investigation. During the interrogations Nick must conduct of everyone on the island Ty confesses he completely missed getting any information on what could be the only lead on the killers because he was proposing to Zane, again. Zane is the only one who is able to give Nick viable information. When Nick is being interrogated by Ty he confesses his relationship with Kelly. Ty is okay with it. Mostly. He knows he can’t tell Nick or Kelly how truly confused he is by it. More than anything he doesn’t want to know about anything sexual they’re doing. Ty is also aware there is more than his romance with Kelly that Nick is keeping from him. The relationship between Ty and Nick has steadily been changing for the worse. Men who were once best friends now feel like acquaintances. As there are more murders and more overt symptoms of PTSD from both Ty and Nick tempers get severely strained. As the investigation begins to look at long time Grady family friend Richard Burns, who is also in attendance at the wedding, things go from bad to worse and reach a breaking point. Ultimately, the crimes are solved in an Agatha Christie-like showdown with cosmetic removing face wipes.
This book was about best friends and fathers and how to live with both yourself and them after betrayal. The strain between Ty and Nick was heartbreaking. When juxtaposed with the relationship between Earl Grady and Richard Burns I found myself appreciating just how complex the characters of Burns and Earl really are. It’s been so easy to write them off as someone I hate. Knowing how intense the bond between best friends is and seeing one lost forever was terrifying. It was not terrifying to imagine the loss of Nick’s father. I had no trouble at all writing him off as someone I hate, but Nick couldn’t. Nick was again stuck with weighing his own choices, needs, and desires against the greater good. Whether or not his choice regarding his own liver was the right choice it was very consistent with the character of Nick.
If the goal of art is to hold a mirror up to society Americans will be disgusted by what they see reflected. Nick, the beloved best friend, savior of children, policeman trained to serve and protect, and boyfriend who makes pancakes with m&m’s is a trained and experienced torturer. Nick is the face of what Americans don’t want to think about and a harsh reminder that vets don’t always have PTSD because of the atrocities they witnessed but also because of the atrocities they committed. Ty was fully aware of Nick’s history and was only concerned as it pertained to Nick’s well being. Again, I had to think of Earl and Burns. How much of Burns’ dealings was Earl aware of and how much did he immediately forgive because it was destroying his best friend’s soul?
Thankfully, this book was more than depressing reminders of bad policy choices and tests of friendship and family. The sex was incredibly vulnerable and hopeful and Ty’s proposals were adorable. I appreciated Zane’s reason for turning them down. Ty has a lot of healing to go through and in spite of the fact these guys are a stable and long term couple, he needs to have a solid plan and can’t make huge life choices on a whim. Although there was one spur of the moment proposal of which I completely approve.
Rated 5 stars by Faye